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Jump by Van Halen

Album: 1984Released: 1984Charted:
1
7
  • David Lee Roth has given various accounts of the meaning behind the lyrics, but he usually says they are about a TV news story he saw where a man was about to kill himself by jumping off a building (Roth thought, "Might as well jump"). He's also said the song is about a stripper.
  • This was Van Halen's first #1 hit, and their only #1 with David Lee Roth as lead singer.
  • Eddie Van Halen played this on an Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer (Oberheim was a large synth manufacturer during the '80s). He was classically trained on piano growing up, and didn't start playing guitar until he was a teenager. (thanks, William - Brentwood, TN)
  • The synthesizer was a point of contention in the band. Eddie wanted to use it, but Roth thought it would look like they were selling out to get more radio play. Using a synthesizer instead of a guitar as the lead instrument was a huge departure for Van Halen, but most of their fans didn't hold it against them.
  • As early as 1981, Eddie Van Halen had written the keyboard part that would eventually become this song. David Lee Roth didn't like the idea of Eddie playing keyboards, and it wasn't until Eddie had built his own recording studio (5150) that he recorded the song with Ted Templeman during a late night recording session. When hearing the song, the band decided to include it on the 1984 album - something that is rumored to have contributed to Roth's departure a year later. (thanks, Eric - Atlanta, GA)
  • The album was released on January 9, 1984, ending (by nine days) Van Halen's streak of releasing one album every year since 1978.
  • The video was low-budget but highly successful. Directed by Pete Angelus and the band, it was simply 8-millimeter film footage of Van Halen performing, highlighted by Roth's slow motion spread-eagle jump (first seen on MTV in Def Leppard's "Photograph" video).

    While it looks kind of ridiculous today, the video was groundbreaking and set the standard for cheap performance videos that hapless directors still try to emulate. To produce such a video, the band is recorded performing the song several times from beginning to end. Then, the band members are shot doing random stage moves without the pretense of actually playing the song (note that Eddie is seen playing the guitar at times when no guitar can be heard). Some candid footage is shot with the band goofing around, and it's off to the edit room where the footage is chopped up into a video.

    While most bands lack the charisma to pull off moves like the "bass player duck under the lead singer's leg" and "point guitar directly into the camera," they try lame versions of it anyway, using such tactics as "run to the camera and stop" and "blow a kiss." In an age when anyone can make a video but most bands lack the money and talent to make a good one, these videos have proliferated, and none has lived up to the standard set by Van Halen with "Jump." For a good example of a low budget performance video gone horribly wrong, check out this clip from The Forgotten Rebels.
  • The video won Best Stage Performance Video at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. MTV quickly discontinued the category as music videos became more creative and relied less on footage of bands performing the song.
  • The B-side of the US single is "House Of Pain." In 1991, a group called House Of Pain had a hit with a song called "Jump Around."
  • 1984 was David Lee Roth's last album with Van Halen, and the video for "Jump" conflated the tensions that led to his departure. The video was produced by Robert Lombard, who wanted to show the personal side of the band on stage. Roth, however, wanted the performance intercut with footage of him in various hedonistic pursuits, so they shot him doing things like riding a motorcycle and getting arrested while wearing nothing but a towel. Lombard edited the video and used none of the extra Roth footage, taking it to Eddie and Alex for approval. Two days later, the band's manager fired him for bypassing Roth; Lombard says he never received the award the video won from MTV.

    Even the performance scenes were delicate. Lombard said in the book I Want My MTV: "I didn't shoot them together until the end of the day. I was trying to keep the peace, because I felt tension amongst them. David thought he was bigger than the rest of them."

    Some of the David Lee Roth specialty footage ended up in their video for "Panama." Roth was replaced in the band by Sammy Hagar in 1986.
  • This was the first album recorded at Eddie Van Halen's 5150 studio. In California, 5150 is police code for a mental case.
  • Eddie used the outro guitar solo at the very end of this song to come up with the idea for the intro guitar riff to Van Halen's later hit, "Standing On Top (Of The World)." (thanks, Dave - Marieta, GA)
  • Aztec Camera recorded a mellow, acoustic cover in 1984.
  • Although "Jump" is fairly light-hearted for a rock single, in January 2010 a DJ who played it at an "inappropriate time" found himself in hot water. The song was requested by a driver stuck in traffic on the M60, and played by Steve Penk, who came underfire because the delay had been caused by police closing several lanes of the motorway while attempting to talk down a woman who was threatening to jump from a bridge. After nearly nine hours, she leapt, shortly after the song was played. Amazingly she survived, albeit with serious leg injuries. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England)
  • 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."
  • Music rights body PRS For Music held a vote among its members to find out the most popular sporting song in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics. "Jump" came top of the poll, with The Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" in second place and Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" in third.
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Comments: 54

I wrote the song Jump. I was the original Desmond Child and the Mutt in the Lange. Max Martin is the other that uses my material from my songs. I wrote Money For Nothing for Dire Straits and Jump for Van Halen. They were both from Warner Bros., and neither of them gave me credit nor a pseudonym. David Lee Roth said it was about a stripper because I pretended that the lady from Polygram was a stripper/hooker. I wrote the song way before either the lady or David Lee Roth visited the Sears package pickup/catalog/lounge area. I almost always come up with a hook before I write lyrics. It was kinda about a cool guy who made people/girls jump to his commands and because of his stature. I threw a little bit of lyrics about Fonzie in Happy Days into the song.Gino - Houston
Until this day,Jump was never a song i like from Van Halen,and DLR departed,never again listened to VH,I liked Sammy Haggar as a solo artist and with Montrose,but not with VH.Jorge - Bronx, Ny
Careful observers will note that neither of the guitars are plugged in throughout the entire video.Bob - Schenectady, Ny
the beginning of this tune is special when u r baked. i lived in a dorm at UW-W when this album came out. down the hall were these guys that lived with a kid named todd who was handicapped and got around in one of those motorized karts. 1 day they scored some great weed. i stopped by to try it out. i'll never forget hearing the synth on this tune while watching todd take his first hit off a bong!! he was drooling and his eyes were nearly shut he was so fried! todd where r u now?Phiilp - Beer Town, Wi
Do your research mate, it was a cover. Eddie Van Halen composed the song himself..Jump is by Van Halen..Slik - Land Of Awesomeness, Australia
ummm okay hate to burst the bubbles of all the legions of die-hard Van Halen fans who are gonna read this at some point or another in their lives, but this isn't even an original Van Halen song. i was in my grandpa's truck listening to this classical music station one time and a song came on. it had the exact same words as this song, not to mention the same overall melody too.
i didnt catch the name of the artist, but i recognized the lyrics and everything else.
Charlie - Las Vegas, Nv
The solo for this song is awesome!!! 5 stars for this song.Gary - Kailua, Hi
Eddie mate, you're a freak on the guitar I tell ya, an old school FREAK OF NATURE!Slik - Land Of Awesomeness, Australia
i am so going to sky dive with this playingChris - Cleveland, Tn
This song is played in the "Stade Vélodrome" of the French footballteam "Olympique de Marseille"Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Great song. One of my top favorite Van Halen tunes. Ediie and Dave, you guys are rule.Austin - Bristow, Va
Listened to this great song the day before giving birth to our second child...22nd January 2003.Montse - Verdú, Spain
Trivia: in the video, DLR screams about half way through the song that is not on the album!Mark - Madison, Wi
This song was electro-fied that it even made a dent on the Billboard R&B charts. It peaked at #88 during the 3 short weeks that it charted. I personally never really cared for the song.Eugene - Minneapolis, Mn
By far, this is one of the best "rock arena" songs ever! It works really great!!! The video is simple but efficient. One of my favorite songs ever! Alexandre Albertoni, Santos, Brazil.Alexandre - Santos, Brazil
Regarding the dusty Oberheim synth, I can't say for sure but it may have been talcum powder or something similar. When I've played keyboards, I've found that if you are really working hard at it and sweating, your fingers can drag and slow you down from the moisture. I've occasionally used talcum powder when I'm playing a very rapid piece of music under these conditions. I've always tried to keep the talcum on my hands and not the keyboard, though. Maybe Eddie does the same thing but is just a little sloppier. This song is one of my all-time favorites. I was able to create the sounds for both the 1984 intro and Jump on a dual-oscillator Korg Trident Mark II (my first synth--pre MIDI).Gary - South Bend, In
A friend thought Roth sang "Maxwell Jump!"Susan - Toronto, Canada
Some '70s and '80s hard rock bands turned to pop out of desperation or just pure greed as the hair metal phenomenon kicked off. In the case of Van Halen, the stylistic turn seemed as organic as the splendid synthesizer riff that fuels this tune, or David Lee Roth's exuberant leap, or Eddie Van Halen's infectious grin. On this one occasion, the band wrote a nearly perfect pop song, and unfortunately they spent the remainder of their careers rolling downhill from this moment.Bertrand - Paris, France
EVH says this song's guitar solo is his favorite and probably the best he ever wrote.Scott - Boston, Ma
I'm puzzled that no one ever talks about the very unusual rhythm on the drums and bass during the mid-song guitar solo. How did they come up with that?Bob - Oakland, Ca
Someone on songfacts, I'm not quite sure who it was, said that Van Halen's song, "Jump" was partially inspired by the Hall & Oates song, "Kiss On My List". Is this true? Or is it just another rumor?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
i just got tickets for van halen. DLR EVH AVH and wolfgang van halenPat - Reading, Ma
Would have been a better video if they had worn their clothes backwards like Kriss Kross.Alan - Chesterfield, Mi
With all due respect to Loverboy, The Pointer Sisters & Kris Kross, this is undoubtedly the best "Jump" song there is, even though the Pointer Sisters had a good video with all kinds of sports clips included. The video for this song was great as well, and you just can't hear this tune without getting a little hyped up!Michael - San Diego, Ca
hey wasnt this song on the show "alan and the chipmunks" or something like that?Eric - Grosse Pointe Woods, Mi
Everybody had to try the synth back then. I don't hold it against any of them, but I wish it never happened. This is one of the better efforts IMO.Mark - Worcester, Mi
David lee Roth was the best sammy hagar sucksCody - Hagerstown, Md
does anyone know what model of "keytar" (a strap-on synth/keyboard in the shape of a guitar) eddie van halen helped popularize? this isnt trivia either i just really want to know.Sean - Kalamazoo, Mi
Paul Anka has recorded a bigband-version of "Jump" on his last album. It is worth listening to.Tim - Groningen, Netherlands
This song was also covered by Frankenbok. Very different to listen to!!!Lutan - Macedon Ranges, Australia
False, Chet. Eddie played the synth stab by hand during concerts. And, I believe it's an Oppenheimer synth, Duffy.Fred - New York, Ny
in my opinion chet is the worst van halen fan ever to live. Flat on the vocals? wow...who cares if they want to use different instuments? it shows that they have plenty of talent! --- LOVE VAN HALEN!!!Cole - Winona, Mn
Anybody like the synth solo in jump? I always thought it was neat.And that huge tone! Is that a casio keyboard?Duffy - Yakima, Al
Although this is Van Halen's biggest hit, no human being could ever say that this is Eddie's best work. Just because every pop fan in the world loves a song, doesn't mean that it's necessarily the best song by the band. Reserve those spots for Runnin', Ain't Talkin', Cradle, and Unchained. Even Hot for Teacher shows Eddie's virtuosity in a better light. But Jump still rocks.Kyle - Anna, Oh
While this is a great song it shows clearly that VH was being swept into that synth influenced style of the time periodWilliam - Toronto, Canada
In the video Roth's jump is done in reverse play.Greg - Wyandotte, Mi
At 14 i only got into Van Halen when my Dad played me some of their song's oneday, i've loved them from then on, "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love & Runnin with the Devil" are awesome song's aswell as Jump! The guitar riff at the start of "Ain't talkin' Bout Love" is probably one of the best start's to a song ever! AMAZING, TRULY MAGNIFICENT!Jade - London, England
I happen to be a huge Roth-era VH fan. I love the song "Jump" but am very embarassed to say it though. Corny as it may be, I have to admit it is one of the catchiest songs ever made even if it doesn't fit the profile of your typical VH song.Ricky - Cincinnati, Oh
Aztec Camera did a cool acoustic cover version of Jump. Just acoustic guitar, bass, drums and vocal. Neat contrast to the over the top keyboard and attitude of the VH original. I still prefer the Van Halen's version, of course.R - San Diego, Ca
Isn't it strange that the song "Jump" is presumably about an impending suicide, and that Roth is now studying to be a paramedic?! Was, still is, and always will be a great song. Thank you Van Halen. Now, Roth and the boys need to grow up, snap out of it, shake hands & make up- and start making the best music around...AGAIN!!Big Mike - Merrillville, In
just a funny thought...in spanish the letter "J" makes an "H" sound making the word "hump" listen to the lyrics and watch the video thinking "hump" in place of the word "jump" watch the movements david lee roth makes when he sais it... just a thought i had...Ben - Aguadilla, United States
Did you ever notice how dusty Eddie Van Halen's keyboards are in the video for "Jump"? And try and count the costume changes for the video!! "Jump" has got to be the best music video of all time. Simple, fun, and not pretentious.Big Mike - Merrillville, In
If David Lee Roth's enormous ego didn't clash with the other bandmember's equally-large egos, they just might have been playing at the Super Bowl's halftime show instead of Aerosmith!! You have to admit: almost all of the songs sound the same during the post-Roth era. What a huge waste of talent- maybe God is blind when He hands out blessings?! I shudder to think what could have been if they just got along... "Jump" would have been just one of a myriad of monster smash hits!!!Big Mike - Merrillville, In
well, first off I really don't know how or why you chould say that their first #1 hit was "The worst VH song ever recorded" chet. however what dan republic said is also true...What is the meaning behind the song??? but anyway i do think it is one of the best 80's rock songs ever recorded. I mean as hans and and tom trowbridge said it is a clasic. last off brian, yeah it is odd that he puts down the guitar and hits #1 anyway.dispite everything else Jump is one of the greatest songs recorded.Nick - Port Jefferson Station, Ny
By far the most complicated part of the song is the part that Eddie DOES play on guitar. If you listen closely to the song, there is an epic guitar solo. Eddie Van Halen is one of the top five greatest guitar players of all time.Danton - Saskatoon, Canada
Couple of tales I've heard about this song and video. First, that the largest expenditure while making the video was for beer (not surprising, is it?). Second, that this song and the contention surrounding it's release were a large part of the myriad of reasons that Roth left the band. As the tale goes, the band agreed to make all decisions as a group and thus each member had veto power. Dave hated the song, as cited above, and vetoed it for several years. When he finally gave in, voila!, they had their first #1 hit. Didn't help Dave's standing with the band, given that he'd already (always?) been evincing signs of (as Eddie says) LSD - Lead Singer's Disease - meaning Dave thought that the band couldn't survive without him. I must say that I didn't and don't care much for their output since Dave left. Musically they're as good as ever but I can't abide Sammy nor that geek from Extreme. That said, I must admit that the band, whatever my personal views, have done well by any measure.Shell - Riverdale, Ga
Well, Eddie does play guitar as well in this song but it does seem odd that his biggest hit is keyboard-based! And I totally agree with you Hans, how is this the worst VH song ever? It's an absolute gem, a song which I find impossible not to like; you just get sucked in as soon as that keyboard riff starts. Easily one of the best songs of the 80s.Tom - Trowbridge, England
Eddie was very angry with some of the negative feedback. Eddie Van Halen said "If I wanna play keyboards or if I wanna play tuba, I'll play it."Randell - Mounds, Ok
David Lee Roth is the bestJason - Dover, Pa
Does anyone else find it odd... That Eddie Van Halen one of the Greatest Guitar Players ever scores his biggest hit by basically putting the guitar down and playing a rather simplistic elementary keyboard riff...Brian - Grand Forks, Nd
a 5150 is not the code for an escaped mental patient, it is a california police code for the 24 hours police can hold a person (generally in a mental health care facility) for being a danger to self and/or others...Kristine - Loveland, Oh
Yeah, but what's the meaning behind this song?Dan - Republic, Wa
Oh Come on! Jump is a Van Halen classic and one of the best classic rock songs. David Lee Roth did some great work that never was really appreciatedHans - Oakdale, Ca
In my opinion this is the worst Van Halen song ever recorded. David Lee Roth's voice is so flat during the whole song and Eddie Van Halens Keyboard playing is reminescent of the days when MIDI was around....one key and it plays it all.Chet - Saratoga Springs, Ny