6 Best Van Halen Songs of the ’80s

The ’80s were a time of evolution for Van Halen. From lead vocalist changes to sonic ones, Van Halen went through a metamorphosis. Though they didn’t completely leave the sound that made their name in the ’70s, they strayed as far as they could. Despite the gamble, the ’80s grew Van Halen into the rock legends we know today.

Videos by American Songwriter

Revisit six of Van Halen’s best songs from the ’80s, below.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind “Runnin’ with the Devil” by Van Halen]

1. “And the Cradle Will Rock”

“And the Cradle Will Rock” is a showcase of what makes David Lee Roth so enticing as a vocalist. He wines about generational divides with powerful melodramatics. It scratches a certain itch that is only satisfied by Roth as the frontman of Van Halen.

2. “Finish What Ya Started”

Van Halen leaves their power chord crutch at home in “Finish What Ya Started.” In its place, Eddie Van Halen adds in some intricate fingerpicking and tight harmonies.

Whenever a band strays from what made their name, fans are inevitably fussy. Taking “Finish What Ya Started” at face value, the song is a meritable departure for the band.

3. “Good Enough”

With the ’80s came a changing of the guard, so to speak, in Van Halen. Frontman Roth was replaced by Sammy Hagar. Hagar was ousted from the band in 1996, but not before he delivered a few bangers.

“Good Enough” kicks off 5150 with a mighty punch. “Good Enough” is strong enough to stand up against even the most vehement Hagar deniers.

4. “Dreams”

Very few artists got out of the ’80s unscathed. Meaning most of them were influenced by the sincere, schmaltzy sounds of the era. In “Dreams,” Eddie Van Halen upped the ante on his power ballad game by adopting that sound. He infused pop elements into the group’s rockier tones.

It proved to be a controversial move among some fans. Still, it resulted in a sweeping ballad that remains one of their strongest efforts in that department.

5. “Best of Both Worlds”

If listening to Van Halen is good for anything, it’s feeling a communal spirit. The band’s choruses are anthemic in the purest sense of the word. Even when listening to them in the comfort of your home, the atmosphere of a roaring crowd sneaks in.

One of their most rousing choruses appears in “Best of Both Worlds.” This 1986 banger brings the arena.

6. “Hot for Teacher”

“Hot for Teacher” is the epitome of Van Halen’s sexed-up musicality. In many ways, the band seems like roguish schoolboys, looking for something illicit to do. They lean hard into that caricature in this track. It’s inappropriate crushing at its finest. Exactly the type of hedonism you want from your favorite rockers.

(Photo by Gus Stewart/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Travis Tritt Announces Solo Acoustic Tour Dates for 2024