Thirty-three years ago this past Saturday, a song containing one of the greatest and most memorable synthesizer hooks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. That the band behind the song was using synthesizers and keyboards more prominently in their music was a bit of a surprise. It was not a band from the United Kingdom, many of which had taken over the airwaves on both radio and television during that time. It was a rock band featuring the last name of two of its members that would debut this song, and then watch it become their biggest hit ever.
That song? “Jump” by Van Halen. It is today’s ’80s Mania Monday song.
“Jump” was the starting point of a great 1984 for Van Halen. The album the song was taken from, 1984, proved to be a huge seller, and the band became superstars. Tensions were high within the group, however; lead singer David Lee Roth was upset with guitarist Eddie Van Halen over his performance on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” as well as the increased use of electronics. Van Halen was growing tired of Roth’s juvenile antics. By the next year, Roth was gone and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. Tension seemed to be a key word throughout the band’s existence; the classic lineup of Roth, Eddie Van Halen, his older brother Alex and Michael Anthony, shuffled through personnel changes throughout the last thirty years. The Van Halen brothers remained through it all, now back with Roth and Eddie’s song Wolfgang.
Prior to that big year, Van Halen had come to be known as one of the most popular rock bands on the planet. Thanks to Eddie Van Halen’s skills as a guitarist and Roth’s charismatic ways as the lead singer, the band grew in stature until it had become one of he pre-eminent rock bands in the U.S. All the while, their use of keyboards began to increase from album to album, until that mammoth, memorable synthesizer hook and those anthemic lyrics took them to the top of the pop charts.
Here’s another song from my senior year of high school. The video above was certainly cemented in my brain over the course of the early part of 1984. The song certainly was there too. Please enjoy Van Halen’s biggest hit, and as always, thank you for reading and listening.