Top 10 Van Halen Michael Anthony Songs
This list of the Top 10 Van Halen Michael Anthony songs shine a much-deserved light on the contributions his bass playing and singing have made to one of rock's biggest bands. Not only has our honoree been a bastion of rock and roll goodwill and down-to-earth camaraderie for all these years, he graciously accepted the inevitability that comes with playing bass behind one of the world’s greatest guitarists (being criminally underrated) while letting his incomparable backing vocals speak loudly and proudly on his behalf. So join us as we shout “Bottoms Up!” and celebrate both the four-string-plucking and singing contributions made by this beloved gentleman rocker to Van Halen’s distinctive sound, by way of this list of the Top 10 Michael Anthony Van Halen Songs.
As had already been the case on Van Halen’s landmark first album (See No. 1 on our list of the top Van Halen Michael Anthony Songs), it was Anthony's steady, sturdy bottom-end pulse that introduced fans to his band’s second guitar-revolutionizing long-player in as many years. Sure, this time, they may have done it with an eyebrow raising cover of a song most recently made famous by soft-rock queen, Linda Ronstadt, but still, it worked.
Twelve years and seven studio albums later, a great deal had changed in the Van Halen camp – what with Sammy Hagar’s commercially successful replacement of David Lee Roth and all of the sonic evolutions that came before and after. But, as the next song in our list of the Top 10 Van Halen Michael Anthony Songs shows, the bass player’s soaring backing vocals remained as integral to the band’s sound as ever.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, Anthony’s undervalued role in the grand scheme of Van Halen’s musical chemistry is often best showcased on deeper album cuts; cuts that rely even more than most on his bass-and-vocal double-threat to take them up a notch or three. ‘Women in Love’ is a perfect example of this, with its thunder-foot bass stomp and soaring counter-vocals making the commonplace exciting – have a listen.
And now for something different… In this emotional, piano-introduced ballad tucked away in the second half of 1995’s rather UN-balanced ‘Balance’ album, Anthony was given a rare opportunity to play fretless bass behind his band mates. And, if we do say so ourselves, he made the very best of it by providing fluid parts that seamlessly bind together the song’s wildly contrasting sections quite beautifully.
You’d be hard pressed to find a tune that encapsulates Van Halen’s broad dynamic range – all the way from acoustic restraint to electric bombast – as well as the next entry in our list of Top 10 Van Halen Michael Anthony Songs. On top of that, short of 'Diver Down's ‘Happy Trails’ there’s no better vehicle for the band's a cappella talents – and Anthony’s crucial place within it – than the aptly named 'In a Simple Rhyme.'
The only reason this song's outrageously funky bass line isn’t further up the totem pole is because some insiders suggest it was Edward, not Michael, who actually played it during the famously difficult ‘Fair Warning’ sessions (see also the telltale finger-tapping harmonics on ‘Dirty Movies’). Nevertheless, whether these rumors are true or false, we’d rather err on the side of caution than leave such a memorable bass track on the cutting room floor.
Call us crazy, but there’s just something about the way this song combines borderline hysterical screams and thrash-like bass guitar that makes us thank a higher power for the unifying superglue of Michael Anthony’s talents. Heck is it any wonder ‘Get Up’ probably stands the test of time with fans better than many of ‘5150’s much bigger hits? We don't think so: credit the quiet guy standing stage right and going about his musical business.
Of all the Van Halen songs capped with powerful chorused vocals, perhaps none allowed Michael Anthony to really belt it out on stage (virtually) every night quite like perennial fan favorite ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.’ Which is why we can say with no disrespect to the one and only DLR, that without Michael's vocal chords acting as a safety net to catch his falls, the Diamond One may well have been caught, on may occasions, with his pants down (and not in the way he LIKES).
Here’s another great showcase of Michael Anthony’s dual talents in support of a criminally overlooked late-LP nugget from ‘1984.' First there are those gloriously open-throated backing vox, but note, too, how Michael’s rhythmic punctuations perfectly mold themselves around Ed’s acrobatic guitar work throughout the song -- then swoop under his legs and almost steal the show with a frantic tattoo behind his solo circa 2:40.
There really was no clearer choice for our list of the Top 10 Van Halen Songs Michael Anthony than his all-time classic, which, as alluded to earlier on, prefaced the very first widespread sighting (or hearing, as it were) of the band – not with guitars – but with Anthony’s pulsing, earth-rumbling bass. All of which just lends further weight to our belief that Michael Anthony will always represent the deep, resounding and reliably beating heart of Van Halen.