Van Halen's 1984 Turns 30 Today -- How Does It Hold Up?

Categories: Van Halen

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Today marks the 30th anniversary of Van Halen's 1984. Let's put that in perspective: Twice as much time has passed between today and the release of 1984 than between 1984's release and the moon landing (the 20th century's other crowning achievement). It was Van Halen's most commercially successful album and one of the biggest rock albums of all time, but does it hold up?

See also: Live: Van Halen Attracts The Naked, Sweaty Eyeballs To Cafe Wha?

Does Diamond Dave's swagger translate in the age of Twitter, YouTube, Jelly, Path, Uber, Seamlessweb, HopStop, Yahoo News Digest, Smarm, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Tinder, and Facebook? Does Eddie Van Halen's guitar still blast ear drums the way it did in the age of Reagan and crack cocaine?

Those are the questions, these are the answers -- track by YEAH! WHEEEEE ZEE BOP track:

1. "1984":

This synth intro ushers in the future but takes a quick detour through our hearts. It makes you feel like you are flying in space. Not the soundless and empty void of actual space, but a better, more incredible cosmic arena dreamt up by Ted Templeman, 1984's producer. The track is a little over a minute but seems to encapsulate the entire universe -- and then some. What is that "some"? If any anthologized poets want to hop into the comments section and take a crack at that question, be my guest. Good luck.

Does it hold up?
You bet your ass it does. It's essentially all of Yeezus, minus the croissants.

2. "Jump"

As the album's most famous song, "Jump" is sometimes accused of being corny or gimmicky. I say "accused" because all charges were dropped: This song rules and is still a total treat. The synth from the intro track is back, but it brought a couple friends (guitars and drums and other musical instruments. Those are the friends). Instead of arguing the merits of "Jump," I'm going to throw in a link to a YouTube video that teaches you how to play it on the keyboard because learning "Jump" on the synth is a far more valuable use of your time than whining.

It's a better use of your time than almost anything.

Does it hold up?
Here's an experiment: Next time you're at a bar, put "Jump" on the jukebox. If the place doesn't immediately turn into a sweaty cauldron of dance and cheer, then it means you aren't at a bar, you're at a funeral. (Which is a good thing, because this jam can wake the dead.)

Yes, it holds up.

3. "Panama"

In the video for "Panama" above, Michael Anthony's bass is painted to look like a bottle of Jack Daniel's. This is like the 350th coolest thing about this song. That's how cool "Panama" is.

Quick aside: You know how sometimes on your iPod one song is louder than the others? For years, "Panama" was that song for me. When this happened for non-"Panama" songs, I'd grab my iPod and turn it down as quick as possible. For "Panama," I would turn it up.

I would turn it up.

I would turn it up.

I. WOULD. TURN. IT. UP.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs.

Does it hold up?
Embarrassing question. Yes, it holds up. It might be holding this entire goddamned country up.

4. "Drop Dead Legs"

I don't think people in 1984 knew how lucky they were to have the opportunity to listen to David Lee Roth sing about a nice pair of legs. Then again, did the clergy who watched as Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel realize how fortunate they were?

We're in the meat of 1984 now, and I hope you're not a vegan. This is USDA Prime and if you can't handle it then I suggest you put your weak-ass ears in a toilet and never stop flushing.

Does it hold up?
Yes.

5. "Hot for Teacher"

I know that in today's America the P.C. Police would get their panties all in a bunch over a song about wanting to have rockin' consensual sex with your teacher. Good news is, "Hot For Teacher" didn't come out in today's America. Even better: It's timeless. It will always be. It's hope and love and beauty and all the other true things in the world.

Also, the scene in the video where Eddie and Little Eddie crank the guitar solo on the study hall desk is better than anything the French New Wave produced.

Does it Hold Up?
Re-read the part about it being timeless. Actually, screw that, we got more 1984 to listen to.

Next page... Whooooo, zeeeee bop zeeee boop!


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65 comments
atighechi
atighechi

1984 turned me into a life long VH fan. I remember I was glued to MTV hoping for one of their videos to come on. Van Halen should go on tour and do a special '1984' tour & play the album in its entirely.

Yvonne Bridges
Yvonne Bridges

Still one of my faves! Drop Dead Legs, one of the best rock songs ever! Panama, Top Jimmy. so much good on here! Love 1984 and always will!

Andy Carlo
Andy Carlo

Read this and posted the article a few days ago...author actually knows what he's talking about and gives the album major thumbs up...good deal all around.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

its better than the crap we got today !!! trust me on that

Irina Hynes
Irina Hynes

I agree, does not hold up, and I saw their 1984 concert.

pjg321
pjg321

@villagevoice ~ their first album will always be my favorite; was freshman year in high-school & I bought some ridiculously loud speakers.

Linda Quinn Hanley
Linda Quinn Hanley

It still rocks solid...boo to the naysayers for not even saying why they think it does not hold up...

jdwolf
jdwolf

@SFConcierge I wrestle d’fine line of being a resp. friend, parent & pro vs the same 20-sumtin’ that took a bath in the FS bar waiting for U

RN ZN
RN ZN

An incredible classic: Top Jimmy, Panama, Drop Dead Legs, Hot For Teacher, hard to top that! Everytime i play this album a smile comes to my face.

jdwolf
jdwolf

@SFConcierge Ancient but still like twenty something... Hard to explain. I can’t mature!

hansen_cm
hansen_cm

@CdnSpeechwriter Ironically, big single off that record (Jump) sounds most dated. Panama still sounds fine to me. *runs fingers thru mullet*

mitchvortex
mitchvortex

a few good ditties, but the synth sounds cheesy as hell, like it was screaming "Van Hagar!  Van Hagar!  Calling Van Hagar!"

VH1, W&CF, Fair Warning......all better in my opinion

Dan Grossman
Dan Grossman

I hated it 30 years ago and I still hate it. So I think that means it held up.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

better than the shit we got now, I can tell you that

blrrrrg
blrrrrg

The song is called Girl Gone Bad. Not "Good" Girl Gone Bad.

john_e_catfish
john_e_catfish

@gmshoward This album changed my life (and I don't say that lightly), thanks in large part to you my friend! Happy 13th birthday to me :-)

yizzy2109
yizzy2109

Still love this album just like I did when I bought it at the mall in January 1984 (8th grade) after seeing David Lee doing those insane split jumps on MTV.  My naive 13 yr. old eyes and ears were witnessing the coolest rock stuff imaginable and I had to have it.


Fun rock music died after this album.  I liked "Appetite for Destruction" just like everyone else but "1984" was the last truly great hedonistic party rock album in music history (please dont say Def Leppard's Hysteria was, either).  It was all doom and gloom, crap and rap after this beast ruled the scene.

Ed MacDaniel
Ed MacDaniel

A friend was the baby in the album cover.

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