I’d be a liar if I tried passing myself off as a rabid Van Halen fan from day one. With the exception of Running With The Devil (a great song) off their self-titled debut album in 1978, I’m not sure I heard of any song off their first four LPs, and if I did I certainly didn’t know it well.
That sure as shit changed in 1984 when Van Halen put out their sixth album, appropriately titled 1984. I was instantly won over and loved everything about that record—most notably a few singles that went on regular rotation in my cassette collection, including Panama and Hot For Teacher.
However, Jump was my undisputed Van Halen favorite and 34 years that’s yet to change.
I didn’t know much about Van Halen before this album and frankly don’t know that much since, but I do know Eddie Van Halen was (rightfully) regarded as one of the premier guitar players in the world, and his riffs were what the band was best known for musically. So how ironic is it that a synthesizer—not Eddie’s guitar would put Van Halen over the top and into the heart of mainstream rock and roll in the 80s?
Previously Van Halen had earned their rep and formidable following on the combo of David Lee Roth’s dominant front man personality and Eddie’s guitar riffing heroics, so the distinction of a synthesizer as Jump’s lead-in instrumental discerned an unpredicted musical direction that had many of the band’s fans surprised. Fortunately for the band the fans didn’t jump shit—as their next four albums would all debut at number-one.
I freegin’ loved Jump. Though the band was around for years before Jump smashed the charts, it was the first time I got educated on Roth as a truly gifted vocalist and frontman. Sadly the creative differences between Roth and the band grew irreconcilable—and Roth was gone a year later and replaced with Sammy Hagar. Roth would come back briefly in 1996 and again from 2006-08.
Jump was their best song and only number-one hit. Rock on, dudes.
Chart Success: It reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the top for five weeks before finally being knocked off by Kenny Loggins’ Footloose. It’s five weeks at the top of the charts tied Prince (When Doves Cry) for most consecutive weeks at number-one in 1984. It finished sixth on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.
Great Lyrics: Accounts Roth has given about the lyrics of the song range from suicide to strippers.
“Hey you! Who said that?
Baby how you been?
You say you don’t know, you won’t know until we begin
Well can’t you see me standing here?
I’ve got my back against the record machine
I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen
Oh can’t you see what I mean?”
Fun Facts: I found this tidbit on Songfacts.com and found it interesting: “In an interview with Mix magazine, Daryl Hall said that the Hall & Oates song “Kiss On My List” was an influence on this one. Said Hall: “[Eddie] Van Halen told me that he copied the synth part from ‘Kiss on My List’ and used it in ‘Jump.’ I don’t have a problem with that at all.” In doing this countdown I’ve learned that several hits have “borrowed” from Hall & Oates sounds.