Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: 1997 (Meat Loaf); 2003 (Steinman)
Grammy Awards/Nominations: Meat Loaf 1/1; Steinman 1/4
Career Top 40 Hits: Meat Loaf 7; Steinman 1 as a performer, 14 as a songwriter
Essential Tracks: Bat Out of Hell (1977), Heaven Can Wait (1977), Paradise By the Dashboard Light (1978), Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (1978), Dead Ringer for Love (1981), I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) (1993), Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are (1993), I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth) (1995)
Essential Albums: Bat Out of Hell (1977), Dead Ringer (1981), Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993)
Singer Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman created some of the greatest rock songs ever, from “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” to “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That.)”
Though they didn’t always get along, and in fact ended up on separate sides of a lawsuit at one point, Meat and Jim were so closely aligned in people’s minds that they should be considered by the Rock Hall as a package duo.
True, Meat could belt out a ballad written by someone else, like the Diane Warren-penned “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth),” and Jim could write smash hits for other performers, like Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.”
But in order to reach their greatest heights, Meat Loaf needed Jim Steinman, and Jim Steinman needed Meat Loaf. Let’s consider whether this dysfunctional yet dynamic duo might someday earn induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman’s Rock Hall Credentials
The original Bat Out of Hell was a unlikely classic. Meat Loaf brought his theater background to the stage, creating live performances and music videos that felt like Broadway shows.
Of course, that’s easy to do when the songs themselves are written like plays. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” was an innovative track written in four distinct acts with a compelling storyline.
In part one, Meat Loaf and duet partner Ellen Foley reminisced about a childhood love. “We were barely 17, and we were barely dressed,” they sang. In part two, a baseball radio broadcast serves as a metaphor for their impending sexual escapades.
In part three, she yells, “Stop right there!” and demands that he commit to her long-term before continuing. He protests, but ultimately agrees to love her until the end of time. Part four fast forwards to the future, with both singing, “I’m praying for the end of time.”
It was a brilliant song, and it was one of many highlights on the album, along with the piano ballad “Heaven Can Wait” and pun-heavy “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth.” “Paradise” and “Words” both eked into the Top 40, peaking at #39, while “Two Out of Three” got to #11.
Though the singles weren’t smash hits, the album would go on to earn 14x Platinum certification, as astounding level of commercial success in the 1970s.
Steinman’s signature sound began to take shape. His tunes were often piano-based, with fierce guitar licks, operatic background vocals, dramatic bridges, and lyrics that often reminisce about young love. There’s no mistaking a Jim Steinman song.
Steinman recorded a Top 40 hit of his own with 1981’s “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,” from his solo album Bad for Good. Steinman wrote that album for Meat Loaf, but recorded it himself when he got impatient after Meat had a nervous breakdown and lost his voice.
Meat Loaf bounced back to issue a few albums in the ’80s, but they failed to achieve much commercial success. He was always an incredibly charasmatic live performer, and his live show is what slowly brought him back from obscurity in the late ’80s. As word of mouth spread and ticket sales rose, Meat knew the time was right to reunite with Steinman, and that led to Bat Out of Hell II in 1993.
The great thing about Bat II is that, while it featured all the elements of Steinman’s style, like ridiculously-long run times, bombastic song arrangements, male-female vocal interplay, and operatic backing vocals from Rory Dodd, the record wasn’t dated. This was a ’90s rock album through and through.
Against all industry expectations, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” shot to #1 and won a Grammy Award. The compelling power ballad “Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Close Than They Are” and his remake of “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” both became radio hits as well.
Meat Loaf nabbed a couple more hits after that, most notably with the Warren-penned “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth),” but that was essentially it for his hitmaking days in the U.S.
Steinman went on to produce Celine Dion’s smash hit “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” which helped him earn a Grammy when she won Album of the Year.
The Case Against Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman
Critics never loved Meat Loaf or Steinman, although most grudgingly came around to acknowledge that the original Bat was a masterpiece. Some felt Meat Loaf was more of an actor than a singer, and doesn’t meet the “musical excellence” criteria for induction. And some felt that Steinman’s songs were too melodramatic, and that the list of artists he worked with aside from Meat Loaf (Air Supply, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Barry Manilow) is mostly soft pop rather than rock & roll.
Meat Loaf’s later work definitely slipped in quality. Bat Out of Hell III, released in 2006, was a disaster, as Steinman didn’t participate due to a trademark dispute. I said everything I need to say about that unfortunate album years ago.
Meat and Jim finally joined forces again on 2016’s Braver Than We Are, but by that time, Meat’s voice was shot. As a Meat Loaf fan, I found that record depressing to hear, and its songs borderline unlistenable. Still, a couple of career duds shouldn’t overshadow all the great work these two did over the years.
The Verdict: Will Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman are another case like Journey, Foreigner, Styx, and the Steve Miller Band — a classic rock act that had great commercial success but wasn’t beloved by critics. That sort of band has had mixed results over the years when it comes to the Hall. Journey and Miller eventually got inducted, but Foreigner and Styx haven’t been inducted, and they may never get the call.
Given that they’ve never been in the Hall conversation before, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman seem more likely to land in that latter camp of good performers who just never get enough support from Hall voters to gain induction.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 3%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 10%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 35%
Do you think Meat Loaf and/or Jim Steinman will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!
Last Updated on February 19, 2024