I recently got Van Halen’s 1984, which is an interesting album. It’s a transition. It’s the last album before David Lee Roth left the band. It has the band’s first (& only?) #1 hit.
There were four hits off this album: “Jump” (#1), “I’ll Wait” (#13), “Panama” (#13), and “Hot For Teacher” (#56). The first two were quite a change for the band, being synth-driven instead of guitar-driven. In fact, I saw concert footage of “Jump” in which Eddie even replaced the guitar solo with a keyboard solo. Looking at the albums and singles that followed, it seems clear that their synth-driven songs were more lucrative than their guitar-driven songs.
Which is kind of funny, because I remember a friend arguing that people wanted to hear Eddie play guitar and that they were going to make less money if he kept playing keyboards. To which I argued that I’d rather listen to music made by following the muse than that made by following the dollars. (Should that be called “lucric”—from “lucre”—instead of “music”?)
Anyway, this raises a couple of questions in my mind:
Were these songs more lucrative because they were synth-driven? Or is there some other difference between the songs Eddie wrote on keyboards and those he wrote on guitar?
To the extent that the instrumentation was a factor, was it a function of the times? i.e. Are keyboard-driven still songs more lucrative today?