The Police vs. Van Halen – Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame, Round One
Two bands from entirely different backgrounds, who nonetheless found classic rock glory, square off in the first round of the 100 percent fan-voted Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame. In this battle you have the option of deciding whether the Police or Van Halen move on to the semifinals.
With their sped-up reggae rhythms, the Police were lumped in with the British punk and New Wave scenes when they released their debut album, ‘Outlandos d’Amour,’ in 1978. But all three members — Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland — had spent time in jazz and fusion bands, and their sparse, aggressive sound hid their musicianship in plain sight. As they grew, they mellowed out and began tackling heavier subjects in their lyrics before breaking up in 1984.
Contrary to the Police, there was no mistaking Van Halen’s motives when they hit the big time, also in 1978. Their self-titled debut introduced a new guitar hero to the world in Eddie Van Halen, while ringmaster / lead singer David Lee Roth made sure that the party would go all night. Roth departed for a solo career in 1985, but Sammy Hagar stepped in and brought his own happy-go-lucky personality to the band for another 10 years. In 2007, they reunited with Roth, which has resulted in several tours, 2012’s ‘A Different Kind of Truth‘ and a new album reportedly on the way.
If the Police and Van Halen have anything in common, it’s that their biggest commercial successes came after they incorporated synthesizers into their sound. The Police began working with synthesizers seriously on 1981’s ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ and built upon those textures two years later with their final album, ‘Synchronicity,’ which sold 8 million copies.
Van Halen, for their part, took a little longer to fully delve into keyboards after a few early attempts, but once they did it paid off handsomely. The electronic riff and solo from ‘1984’s’ ‘Jump’ helped propel it to the top of the charts, and all of their future keyboard-heavy albums in the Hagar era went to No. 1.
So which band shall it be? That’s entirely your call. You can vote once an hour between now and Aug. 17, 2014 at 11:59PM ET. The winner will be announced on Sept. 2. Don’t forget to read our official rules.