Episode 396: Van Halen's '5150' [Discologist]

Episode 396: Van Halen's '5150' [Discologist]

Van Halen’s 5150 was a turning point for the legendary party rockers for more than one reason. The replacing of original front man David Lee Roth with rocker Sammy Hagar was what was driving headlines, but the real news was in the music. Revved up, radio-friendly, and raring to go, this “new” Van Halen supplemented often questionable machismo with synths, honest-to-god pop hooks, and, most radically: Feelings.

Washington Post Pop Critic Chris Richards and Broke Royals’ Philip Basnight are joining us as we reconsider one of the most divisive albums of Van Halen’s career, reveal it’s secrets, and more.

This, dear listener, is what dreams are made of.

Rocktober 2011 Day One!!! Van Halen- "5150"


From the album cover right down to the final spastic notes, Van Halen's (Van Hagar's?) 5150 is a master class on everything thing that it took to be trashy, cheezy and borderline awful in the 80's. It also somehow they managed to pull it all together despite itself record that, while itdemands your devil horns in the air despite it's assy shell.

For longtime fans of the band, this record was pretty much the end. David Lee Roth hit the road after 1984, and the news that the badn would carry on without him infuriated said fans, espesically when they found out who with. 

For folks like me though, who had barely experienced the Van Halen of old, this newer, sleeker Van Hagar was just what the doctor ordered. Sammy Hagar who was familiar to anyone who had MTV at the time thanks to his megahit "I Can't Drive 55" brought a sort of California sleaze to the band that was a sharp contrast to David Lee Roth's Vegas showmanship.

The band sounded greasier than it ever had before. Sure, the record had its future-classic-bombs like "Love Walks In" (which is apparently about aliens...not metaphorical aliens but ACTUAL aliens) and "Why Can't This Be Love". But it also gave the world some absolutely EPIC guitar workouts on songs like "Good Enough", "Best of Both Worlds" and "Get Up" and arguably, thanks to Eddie Van Halens newly invented Floyd Rose locking tremelo system, some of the most innovative work of the bands career.

So is it bad? Oh hell yes it's bad. But it's bad in the very best ways. An album like this takes you right back to that point in your life where music, good or bad, was just beginning to get awesome for you. All the clichés that you'd later pick out, all the horrible cringe worthy lyrics, they just didn't matter. All that mattered was that Van Halen was blasting out of you speakers, scaring the neighbors and turning you into a much cooler person, which is about all you could really ask for from rock and roll those days. All you could ask for, and all you needed.

or if you prefer to listen on Spotify

Van Halen – 5150