This is fantastic.
Our favorite musical mechanic, Rick Beato, has gone under the hood once more to reveal a close-up look at the lean, mean engine of classic Van Halen. This time around he decided to dissect the many parts that make up the band’s classic hit single “Jump”.
Beato is a musician/producer who has a long-running popular podcast series called “What Makes This Song So Great?” where he breaks down the greatest songs in rock history by isolating facets of a musical gem fans may have never noticed before. Last year he released an episode all about Van Halen’s 1978 classic “Running With The Devil”. Now, in a new episode, he dissected the greatness of another Van Halen song – the number one single “Jump” from the band’s ‘1984’ album.
Beato introduced the episode by explaining the complexity of the iconic synthesizer intro written and performed by Edward Van Halen. Beato mentioned that he had previously included Edward’s intro in an episode about the greatest rock keyboard sounds of all time. After isolating the keyboard opening, Beato then isolated the drums, bass and vocals which followed the keyboard intro.
“Then we have this really incredible scream that’s double tracked,” said Beato of David Lee Roth’s opening high note. “I love that squeal that David Lee Roth was always able to get out of his voice. On the first record none of us really knew what that was. We always thought, ‘Is that a guitar? That can’t be a vocal.’ He had that whistle scream that he could still do back then. It really was a signature part of Dave’s vocal sound and a signature part of Van Halen.”
Beato then followed his comments on Roth by praising the skills of Alex Van Halen on drums.
“Another signature part of Van Halen is Alex’s drum sound, specifically the snare,” said Beato. “Throughout the first few records his snare sound developed into almost like a tom [tom drum]. It doesn’t have a lot of snare on it and the way it’s pitched it sounds like a tom but it’s really incredibly recognizable. He hits rim shots every time and his feel is great.”
Beato then played Alex’s isolated opening drum beat to “Jump” before further admiring his skills.
“When [Alex] starts laying into the groove that snare is just unmistakably Van Halen and that, to me, gives it such a ‘cool’ factor,” said Beato. “If the keyboards may sound a little [too soft], once those drums come thundering in you know. It just gives a toughness to it.”
The next phase of Beato’s breakdown focused on Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. Before playing Anthony’s isolated thumping bass line from “Jump,” he addressed Anthony’s critics.
“I wanna talk about Michael Anthony’s bass part, too,” said Beato. “Michael Anthony, like I always say, gets the raw end of the deal. He was a great bass player even if he played really simplistic parts.”
By combining the drum and bass track together, Beato highlighted the strength of the Van Halen rhythm section.
“C’mon! That is so tight, right?” Beato said while grooving to the bass and drum track blasting through his studio speakers. “It’s like a machine! But it’s not a machine, it’s real!”
Eventually Beato worked his way to what he said is his favorite part of “Jump” – the pre-chorus section which comes in at just over 57 seconds into the original track.
“This is actually what makes the song great. This is the strongest part and my favorite part of the song,” Beato said, before going on to explain that the chords Edward plays on the synthesizer and guitar juxtapose with Alex’s drum patterns brilliantly in that pre-chorus section.
Along with breaking down the brilliance of Edward’s guitar and synthesizer solos on “Jump,” he also illustrated another important weapon in his musical arsenal. It’s one that often goes unnoticed by fans but never unnoticed by fellow musicians.
“Any great player knows that Eddie Van Halen is one of the best rhythm guitarist of all time,” said Beato. “He’s also one of the best keyboard rhythm guitarists ‘cuz this [part of the song before the guitar solo] is so in the pocket.”
Beato ended the episode by highlighting Roth’s vocals once more, this time playing the vocal track that ends the song.
“I think people don’t realize what a great singer David Lee Roth really was,” said Beato. “He was a KILLER singer. He had a great pitch and just had incredible attitude in his vocals.”
Watch What Makes This Song So Great? Episode 61 Van Halen’s “Jump” below:
You can find more on Rick Beato at his website, rickbeato.com.
And Rick, we’d LOVE to have you dissect another Van Halen song!
Check out the new 1984 tees at Van Halen Store!