The sixth studio album from Van Halen kicked up the charts, cemented their status in the 1980s hard rock category: MCMLXXXIV or 1984 by Van Halen.
With this album, Eddie Van Halen wanted to create a new sound for the band and built a studio he called 5150 in his backyard
Van Halen played around with keyboards to enhance the typically heavy rock sound the band favoured.
With producer Ted Templeton and band members David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony, the band worked on the album in the backyard studio, with Eddie Van Halen and Roth collaborating on the first single Jump.
Eddie Van Halen had written the song a few years previously but the sound had not captured the band until Roth wrote the lyrics. Although the entire band is credited with songwriting credits, in consequent years fans have learned the album was mainly written by Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth.
The album cover was created by Margo Nahas, based on a young family friend, featuring a cherub who is smoking. The cover art was censored in the UK, with the hand and cigarettes covered by stickers.
Released in January 1984 by Warner Bros, 1984 came a few weeks after the single Jump was released in December 1983. Consequent singles included I’ll Wait, Panama and Hot for Teacher.
Critics were positive about the album, rating it high even with occasional disparaging comments for the use of more synthesizers with the guitars and drums.
Climbing the Billboard charts, 1984 reached number two, behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller (which featured Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on Beat It) and stayed there for five weeks.
After Jump, the fourth single Hot for Teacher was a hit for MTV with its salacious video featuring four young versions of the band members cheering a teacher who transforms from straightlaced to sexy vixen in the classroom.
Jump hit the top of the charts on the Billboard Hot 100, and 1984 became the band’s second album to be certified gold and eventually certified Diamond status with 10 million in sales.
Along with their first album Van Halen, 1984 has become the band’s best selling album to date, continually selling well into the 21st century. And it became the turning point for the band, with the departure of David Lee Roth in 1985.