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Rock Hall Anniversary: Van Halen’s 1984 (aka MCMLXXXIV)

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By 1984, Van Halen were one of the most popular bands in rock, with five albums already to their name. But that year, they would release an album that would make them an MTV sensation, as well as forecast a change in the lineup.

In January of that year, Van Halen released their sixth studio album, amply titled 1984. Produced by Ted Templetan (who produced the last five albums), the album was filled with the band’s usual signature sound, which included the virtuosic guitar sound of Eddie Van Halen, as well as the blunt and raunchy lyrics of David Lee Roth. But a new element was about to be added, and in the song “Jump”, it was the synthesizer. Although the use of it was initially discouraged (as synthesizers were normally not associated with hard rock), it would make “Jump” Van Halen’s biggest hit, taking it to number one on the charts. Other hits that yielded from 1984 were “I’ll Wait” “Panama” (both of which hit the top twenty), and “Hot for Teacher” (which like “Jump” featured a now iconic video).

The cover on 1984 featured the title written in Roman numerals (MCMLXXXIV), as well as the iconic but controversial cover of the smoking cherub (which was eventually censored in the UK). With songs including “Jump” and “Hot for Teacher” dominating MTV, 1984 would go on sell over twelve million in the US alone, and spend five weeks at number two behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Reviews of the albums were mostly favorable upon release, and retrospectively it was ranked as one of the greatest albums of the 1980s. It would also be the last to have the original lineup, as well as David Lee Roth until 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth.

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