Survey Reveals People’s Least Favorite Van Halen Song

Van Halen has had a long and storied career. Emerging from the Southern California rock scene in the 1970s, the band’s core has always been brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen even as other members have come and gone and, in some cases, come and gone more than once. Further, they’ve produced some of the key albums in rock ‘n’ roll history, such as 1982’s “Diver Down” and “1984,” released in the eponymous year.

In the process, the band and its contemporaries like Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe forged a new style of music known as “arena rock,” a term used to describe music that lent itself to being sung by tens of thousands of lighter-holding fans in packed stadiums.

While Eddie Van Halen may have pushed the boundaries of how rock guitar is played, and the band produced a slew of radio-friendly hits, they were not above producing some duds.

Grunge asked 688 readers in the United States for their least favorite Van Halen song, and here are the “winners.”

Some fans would rather not run with the devil

For a while in the late 1970s and early-to-middle 1980s, some Christians in the United States were extremely concerned about the effects rock ‘n’ roll was having on America’s youth. In particular, moral crusaders were concerned about satanism and other elements of the occult creeping into the lives of America’s youth through the baleful influence of rock music.

For a song by an unabashed and unapologetic Southern California rock band to include the word “Devil” in a song’s title, and then repeat the phrase “runnin’ with the devil” in the chorus, it could almost seem like Van Halen was rubbing it in their faces.

According to the book, “Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music,” the lyrics in fact have nothing to do with Old Scratch. Rather, they’re simply about freedom and living in the moment.

Vulture writer Chuck Klosterman called the song the eighth-best Van Halen song, and our readers would tend to agree. “Runnin’ with the Devil” got the fewest votes, with only 12.5% of respondents saying it’s the worst Van Halen song.

Not everybody wants some

Musicians love to improvise, expand, and try new things, and one of Van Halen’s most experimental songs could very well be “Everybody Wants Some!!” (complete with two exclamation points) from the 1980 album “Women and Children First.” Much of the song is a straightforward rock anthem, while the tune also includes some experimental elements. For example, there’s David Lee Roth’s spoken-word element that Vulture writer Chuck Klosterman called a rap (“lascivious and fetishistic,” he described it).

Indeed, Klosterman considers the song a product of its time.

“I’m not sure how the tribal drumming and monkey screeches would translate in the modern landscape,” he wrote.

The song has also resonated with popular culture, providing the background music for an animated claymation sequence in the 1985 teen comedy “Better Off Dead,” as well as making an appearance in 2009’s “Zombieland.”

Grunge readers aren’t convinced the song is all that bad, with only 13.95% saying it’s the worst.

Unchained, Jump, and Panama also fail to get love from our readers

Of the remaining four Van Halen songs that our readers don’t like, three are from the same album. So, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll start with the outlier.

Van Halen’s 1981 album “Fair Warning” failed to produce any memorable hits, save for one: “Unchained.” Vulture writer Chuck Klosterman actually called it the band’s second-best song. Our readers, however, weren’t convinced, with 14.53% calling it their least-favorite song by the band.

From the 1984 album “1984” came three other songs that made the worst-of list, via our readers. The radio-friendly and synth-heavy “Jump” got 15.12% of the vote, and Klosterman can see why, noting that some hardcore Van Halen fans refuse to consider it legitimate rock.

From the same album is “Panama,” which, not unlike “Everybody Wants Some!!” contains a spoken-word bit by Roth. However, with 19.33% of Grunge readers calling it Van Halen’s worst song, it’s clear that the rock anthem has failed to resonate.

And finally, from the same album, is the Van Halen song our readers consider the worst of the worst.

Not everyone is hot for teacher these days

In the four or so decades since Van Halen released the song “Hot For Teacher,” along with its accompanying video, quite a bit has changed. For example, the video leans heavily into the idea of bullying a child for being a nerd, and while you could play that for laughs in the 1980s, in the 2020s, bullying and negative stereotypes are no longer considered a laughing matter.

Also no longer considered a laughing matter is the song and video’s subject matter: a high school student — presumably an underage high school student — having a crush on an adult, female teacher. Again, that’s a thing that didn’t raise an eyebrow decades ago; indeed, much of the history of rock ‘n’ roll is filled with lyrics referencing adults being attracted to children, and vice-versa (consider, for example, The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”). These days, however, a song hinting at a relationship between a child and an adult, however obliquely and however it’s played for laughs, just doesn’t fly.

Grunge readers would seem to agree. With nearly a quarter of the vote (24.56%), our poll respondents considered “Hot For Teacher” the worst Van Halen song.

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