Thursday, January 24, 2019

"Why Can't This Be Love?" by Van Halen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2658
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  52
Peak:  3
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  For Van Halen, 1985 was a rough year. After they experienced the biggest album of their career, 1984, tensions within the band eventually led to the departure of lead singer David Lee Roth. The remaining three members were left trying to figure out the best way to proceed. They thought about having a series of temporary lead singers front the band and even extended an invitation to Patty Smyth of Scandal to join the band (she declined). Their record company wanted them to scrap most everything and start fresh with a new name. Nothing was working or making sense. Then the guy who worked on Eddie Van Halen's Ferrari suggested that they might was to take a look at one of his other clients, Sammy Hagar. Eddie thought it was a good idea and reached out to Hagar. Everything seemed to click with Hagar so the band hired him on and the quartet set out to begin the next chapter in the Van Halen saga. They recorded a new album titled 5150 and kicked off the Hagar era of the band with this first single. It was heartily greeted by Rock radio and the song instantly shot to #1. Pop support wasn't far behind and soon it became the band's second Top 10 hit. It certainly sparked interest in the album and once released it went to #1 - a first for Van Halen. While it wouldn't get close to the 10x platinum status of 1984, it would end up doing quite well selling over 6 million copies.

ReduxReview:  I remember all the hubbub about this song and Hagar joining Van Halen. Of course immediately people began referring to the band as Van Hagar (and apparently their record company though the band should take on that name). Many derided the choice and chose to live in the Roth glory days, but others were curious and wanted to see how this all would play out. The new era of the band started out with a bang thanks to this first single. There were elements of the old VH at play while expanded keyboards and Hagar's voice added something new. The sound was a bit thicker with Donn Landee taking over production duties from Ted Templeman, who had produced all of VH's previous albums. I liked the song and thought it was a good transitional piece. Yeah, Hagar was not the showman that Roth was and the sound was a bit different, but I wasn't mad about the selection or changes. For the most part it ended up working out quite well.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The name of the album, 5150, came from the name of Eddie Van Halen's studio. The numbers don't refer to an address, but to a California welfare code. Section 5150 basically refers to the involuntary psychiatric hold of a person who because of a mental illness poses a threat to themselves or others. Police and/or health officials can detain a person for at least 72 hours at a facility if the need arises. The numbers then became associated with (or a slang term for) someone who is mentally ill and on the loose.


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