Song 152: Van Halen, “Jump” (1984)

Van Halen - 1984 - Front

I’ll start with this: I know basically nothing about Van Halen. I know about David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, and I know about Eddie Van Halen’s tapping technique. I know about “Right Now” (which I used to play on the piano) and its relationship to Crystal Pepsi.

And, of course, I know “Jump.” This song may have the best use of synthesizer ever. I liken the synth in “Jump” to T-Pain’s and Kanye West’s use of auto-tune: if you’re going to use something so artificial sounding, why not use it as an obviously artificial tool? In the case of “Jump,” it makes the song, and the title action, sound superhuman.

The lyrics, of course, are… not great. But they don’t need to be, because we have the synth, Eddie Halen’s guitar, and David Lee Roth squawking out words like they’re just occurring to him. Even though the song’s idea was apparently inspired by Roth’s martial arts teacher (!), Roth reportedly hated the song because it signified a more commercial approach for the band, who split with Roth soon after the release of 1984. The fact that David Lee Roth was bitter about something being too commercial makes me question everything I’ve ever known about anything, but again, I know very little about Van Halen.

Hearing and reading the words to “Jump” always make me think of this Saturday Night Live sketch featuring David Hyde Pierce. This song makes an appearance at the end, and it always makes me giggle uncontrollably. You’re welcome.

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