The Van Halen Song Eddie Van Halen Never Liked

By the mid-1980s through the middle of the ’90s, Van Halen was on a hit-making streak following the passing of the torch to second vocalist Sammy Hagar, who replaced David Lee Roth in 1985. The band released four multi-platinum albums with Hagar, beginning with 5150 in 1986, and followed by OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), and Balance in 1995. Van Halen’s string of hits with Hagar include “Dreams,” “Love Walks In,” Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Finish What Ya Started,” and “When It’s Love,” among others.

Videos by American Songwriter

The third album with second singer Sammy Hagar, Unlawful Carnal Knowledge debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and earned the band its first Grammy Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album with hits “Poundcake” and “Right Now,” and the song that almost didn’t make the cut: “Top of the World.”

“This album, without really planning it, ended up much more hard rock and roll,” said late guitarist Eddie Van Halen in 1991 of the band’s ninth album. “I guess [that’s] what we are really about, which also transfer to live (performance) much better. … I think it’s our best work to date.”

[RELATED: The ‘1984’ Rift Between David Lee Roth and Van Halen]

Even though Eddie liked Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, there was one song on the release he wished had been cut. Closing the album, “Top of the World” reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and was the only track on the album to break the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 27. It was a song Eddie Van Halen voted to cut from the final track list.

“I don’t even like everything I do,” said Van Halen in a 2009 interview. “Sometimes I’ll write something, for instance, a song called ‘Top Of The World.’ Everyone else liked it; I didn’t. I got outvoted, and I wrote the damn song. It ended up on the record. I didn’t like the song, everyone else did. I got outvoted. It’s personal preference, that’s all music is.”

Written by Eddie, “Top of the World” is also credited to Hagar, Alex Van Halen, and Michael Anthony. It features backing vocals by Toto’s Steve Lukather, who appeared with Eddie years earlier on Michael Jackson’s iconic 1983 hit “Beat It.”

Photo: Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

The Clash’s Joe Strummer Gets 71st Birthday Tribute at Punk Rock Museum