Sunday, August 21, 2016

"Jump" by Van Halen

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1755
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  47
Peak:  1 (5 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Van Halen had their best charting album to-date when their fifth studio LP Diver Down reached #3. It featured their biggest Pop hit up to that point with the #12 remake of Roy Orbison's "(Oh) Pretty Woman." However, the album wasn't necessarily a smash with critics and tensions arose between Eddie Van Halen and lead singer David Lee Roth on the direction of the band. Roth and producer Ted Templeman were not very open to Eddie's ideas and forged ahead with what they wanted. Eddie caved and went along with it, but to help curtail the issue for the next album, Van Halen built a studio at his house and started recording his own material, which fleshed out his idea of adding more keyboards to the arrangements. Van Halen and Roth were still at odds, but the factions compromised and the band set out to finish their new LP titled 1984. This first single certainly highlighted a more pop-friendly Van Halen with an opening synth riff that heralded a new sound for the band. Listeners responded enthusiastically sending the song to #1 at both Pop and Rock. A now-classic MTV video would prove to be popular and set a standard for performance-style videos. The successful single would push the album to #2 where it would be stuck behind Michael Jackson's Thriller for five weeks. Eventually, it would become their biggest selling album receiving a diamond award (10 million). The single and album would be the band's peak commercial moment. The song would also garner the band a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, it took about 5 seconds of a synth line to make me go nuts for this tune. I kind of understand why the band didn't really want to tread into keyboard territory. With a patented guitar/drum sound and Eddie shredding it up, adding keys could have taken them to a place already occupied by more commercial-leaning bands like Journey. However, the way they introduced the keyboard with this song worked so well. I don't think they gave up an inch of their identity. In fact, I think they improved upon it. It was a brilliant move and it came along at the exact right time. Millions loved the new sound, but a few did not. I remember when I was DJ-ing at a roller skating rink and a teen came up to the booth and asked me to play some rock. I had this song handy and tossed it on. Soon after it started, the kid skated by the booth and yelled "I said play some rock, not organ music!" It totally cracked me up.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song began life as a keyboard riff that Eddie Van Halen wrote sometime in 1981. At the time, the band was not interested in pursuing the idea. Although the band had padded some of their songs with keyboards in the past, Eddie wanted to push the keys to the forefront. The band was reluctant thinking that the resulting sound would make their music too commercial and appear as if they were selling out. However, after hearing the demo that Eddie made at his own new studio, the band changed their minds. David Lee Roth wrote the lyrics and the song was completed.  2) Apparently, the inspiration for Roth's lyrics came from a news story. He heard a report about a man threatening to commit suicide by jumping off a building. Imagining the situation, Roth thought that someone in the crowd watching the scene might yell something like "go ahead and jump!" It seemed to fit Eddie's music, so Roth incorporated the thought into the lyrics about a guy picking up a woman.



  1. Synthesizers can come across as cold and sterile sometimes, but Eddie's playing on Jump is warm and full of feeling and beautiful, but powerful too. The song deserved all the attention it received.

    1. It's true. I think Eddie really liked playing the keys and he did it in a way that was all his own, just as he had with the guitar. It wasn't fake, programmed, sequenced, etc. He just played it his way and it worked out great.