Dear Van Halen: Fuck Off

Why does it seem that bad music always manages to find its way to the top of the pile?

Normally I wouldn’t pay that much attention to Van Halen’s upcoming album, A Different Kind of Truth, set to be released next month. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Van Halen, although as a teen I did briefly dabble in the dark art of Halenism-rockin’ out while Running With the Devil bled ears in the background. When word got out a few years back that Van Halen was trying to glue itself together again with frontman David Lee Roth back in the lead singer saddle, I don’t know that the news even registered with me. Frankly, I could’ve cared less, I guess.

Now, however, Van Halen is back-sort of. Bassist Michael Anthony was cast aside an album ago in favour of Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, who is a competent bassman. The glaring hole left by Anthony is on the vocal side of things, and his backing vocals, often times one of the only interesting aspects of a lot of Van Halen songs (for me, anyway), are gone. What we have now is Roth looking eerily like he’s modelling for AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s Springtime Collection for Men, and Eddie still making that same cocky grin into the camera he’s been doing for the past thirty years. You know the one…cue up any Van Halen video (doesn’t matter who’s singing)-shot of Eddie’s fingers on the strings of his guitar, shot of Eddie looking bored, shot of Eddie tapping the fretboard, shot of Eddie looking pleased with himself, and so on and so on. It looks like Van Halen are following their hit making recipe book to the letter on their new track, Tattoo, a completely forgettable hard rock ditty that pales in comparison to what most folk would consider ‘classic’ Van Halen.

But here’s my point: Van Halen (or as I call them now, Nickelback South) are a one trick pony. I could care less about those that might argue that Van Halen are a great party band, or that Panama is awesome to listen to while you’re cruising the beach. The fact of the matter is Van Halen have basically been rehashing the same sound and formula for thirty years, and I’m sick of it. It’s boring, tired, and now more than a little annoying. There are a dozen better, lesser known bands out there that would kill to get the kind of publicity Van Halen are probably taking for granted right now, and that’s what really gets my goat in this situation. If nothing else, hopefully these groups will look at Van Halen as an example of what you never, ever want to become as a band.

About Jay Moon

Freelance writer guy. My ears love music. I'm a transplant recipient (October/2015), so I also give talks to the masses about that entire experience.

Posted on January 11, 2012, in Music and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Everyone at work said it sounded like crap. I have to agree, I wasn’t impressed.

    What shocks me is this:

    Every so often, I think Lefsetz has it right. Every so often…it’s just so wrong it hurts!

  2. I think we can both agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially when it comes to music. However, reading that review I think that someone might have the fanboy blinders on a little too tight. I think Tattoo will rank as one of the worst songs of 2012, and we’re barely even two weeks into the year.

  3. Sometimes I think this is why music, in general, is in the shitter.
    I blame Van Halen, and to a lesser degree Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and even Rush (OK, that hurt…). Here is why…
    Record labels are spending so much time, money and energy trying to make money with ‘known’ commodities. And that is why re-unions are so popular. They are *almost* guaranteed to make money. Same with album re-releases. I’ll admit, that I filled in some holes in my personal music collection with re-releases from Floyd and The Stones. And it has taken all of my will power not to pick up the Rush re-issues.
    So, maybe in those cases it isn’t the bands fault per se, but, I am sure they are still cashing the cheques.

    I really wish the labels would take the chance on new (newer?) bands, and promote them like they have been VH, Floyd, etc…
    Could you imagine what it would be like if some smaller band all of a sudden got some of this attention, instead of it going to a new Fleetwood Mac album (that is apparently on the horizon).

    By the way, according to Alan Cross, The Hip are the next band to get the big re-issue treatment. Well, there goes a few hundred bucks of my savings!

    Thanks for letting me rant!

  4. I have always considered them an older version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers……lots of talent but no taste………….it’s a shame that Van Halen really haven’t done anything for decades but people still buy their records, some artists with talent and taste can still produce great music and still can be current and then others really depend on that one hit wonder

  5. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Van Halen, but I think Eddie likes things done a certain way, and he’s stuck to the same basic formula since day one. When someone goes unchallenged like that it can make for some pretty nasty crap going unchecked through the poop filter, hence Tattoo.

  6. The record or music business really is in the shitter…………all the interesting creative artists, new and old have usually been dumped by major labels as they simply don’t make enough sales so the big labels will continue to re issue releases that have sold in the past and will sell again…………radio and media have changed over the years and have fractured the business into small niches which will always continue and the great artists have already realized this, the majors will be of no help getting your music out there…….you have to do it yourself. I think a whole new crop of great artists exists today but it is getting harder and harder to find them…..or should I say it is getting harder to find what medium to check out to find this new music. There will continue to be the Lady Gaga’s and groups of their ilk but I think most interesting creative artists realize that they will never be huge like a Michael Jackson but they can continue to do their craft, do it on their own terms with complete control and make a living at the same time………….I think the future of great music is here now, we just have to figure out how to find it without the huge marketing push of major record companies and the exposure of AM and FM radio, both which have become dinosaurs.

  7. By the way…
    I heard Tattoo on the radio tonight.
    It was nothing special.

  1. Pingback: It’s Too Bad There’s No Good Songs For Friday the Thirteenth. Oh, Wait… « thatsfunkyawesome

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