All Van Halen Albums Ranked Worst to Best

All Van Halen Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Van Halen

From the first moment Van Halen roared out of the speakers, the regarded band restored hard rock to the forefront of the music scene, storming the stages up as well as the charts with every album they released. But of course, there are always some other songs or albums that touches our heart more no matter how great the others also are. So, we ranked all Van Halen albums in order from worst to best, down below.

Formed in 1973, one of the most beloved rock bands in history Van Halen consisted of  Eddie Van Halen as the guitarist, Eddie’s brother Alex Van Halen as the drummer, Mark Stone as the bassist, and David Lee Roth as the singer. And later, although the band’s lineup had gone through some changes, it sure never stopped rocking the stages and touching every fans’ soul with their unique and high energy during 47 years. But unfortunately, like any good things have an ending, Van Halen disbanded after their journey filled with passion because of Eddie Van Halen‘s passing in 2020.

What is considered the best Van Halen album?

‘ Van Halen’ (1978) is the considered best Van Halen album. Throughout this long journey of Van Halen, the regarded band released 2 live albums, 2 compilation albums, 3 video albums, 12 studio albums, 56 singles, alongside many other efforts of theirs, selling over 75 million albums worldwide. So, let’s see those albums through while also remembering their worth, as well.

All Van Halen Albums Ranked

12- Van Halen III

A black-and-white photograph of a man being shot in the stomach with a cannonball

  • Released: March 17, 1998

Even though Van Halen peaked at high numbers as always, the eleventh album of the regarded band was actually the worst album that received mostly mixed to negative critical reception. Van Halen III was also the band’s only studio album to feature Extreme lead vocalist Gary Cherone, and the last to feature bassist Michael Anthony before he was replaced in the band by Eddie’s son Wolfgang in 2006. Besides all, Van Halen III was also the last album before the band went on a hiatus for 14 years until they returned and released their last studio album, A Different Kind of Truth.

11- Balance

A sepia photo of conjoined twin boys on a teeter totter

  • Released: January 24, 1995

Nobody on this planet can probably blame Van Halen for making a bad album, many of us already know that fact. What was wrong with this album wasn’t actually lack of quality, not at all. At the end of the day, the tenth studio album of the regarded band peaked at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 right away as it also reached Triple Platinum status on May 12, 2004, by selling more than 3 million copies in the U.S. But still, no matter how hard they tried to make a good album as much as their previous ones, and succeeded at some point, they just couldn’t hide there was something in the band that was getting rotten and rotten. As result, it became the last album that features Sammy Hagar and the final Van Halen album to feature bassist Michael Anthony in its entirety, as well.

10- For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

A photo of the "VH" flying-V logo embossed in metal on a leather surface

  • Release: June 17, 1991

As we can also understand from the dates of the albums we have mentioned so far respectively, the late 80s and the 90s didn’t show much kindness to Van Halen. But we can also say that this album is also the last one that will end our suffering, as well. The ninth studio album of Van Halen, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, received mostly negative reviews, even though it was also credited as a ‘come back’ of the legendary band. It might have not been a bad album, that’s for sure, but what many critics and fans who lashed the album had seen in that album was mostly seeing Van Halen coasting away rather than coming back, unfortunately.

9- A Different Kind of Truth

  • Released: February 7, 2012

The twelfth and final studio album of Van Halen sure made a great farewell for everyone, welcoming the band’s legendary frontman David Lee Roth one last time after almost 3 decades. So, A Different Kind of Truth sure did give all fans a passionate goodbye kiss while also filling everyone’s long for their legendary sound and soul they captured with David Lee Roth. Yet, the band must have exaggerated it a little as well, considering the length of the tracks’ that were mostly just filled.

8- OU812

Van Halen - OU812.jpg

  • Released: May 24, 1988

The eighth studio album of Van Halen was a success in almost any direction we can look. It was Sammy Hagar’s second album with the band that he was mostly credited for keeping up with the band pretty good and quickly as he showcased a great performance alongside Eddie’s machine-gun-like speed-metal-guitar arpeggios. So, the album sure collected and showcased a number of diverse and epic songs ever, but was still lack of something which was also nodded, too. Results? OU812 became one of the few albums of Van Halen faced with initially mixed reviews, at the end of the day.

7- Diver Down

The "diver down" flag: a white band sloping diagonally down on a red field. "VAN HALEN" in the top right corner, "DIVER DOWN" in the bottom left

  • Released: April 14, 1982

The fifth studio album of Van Halen sure featured great songs, both from the band itself and from various artists. But it is also another reason why even the band’s legendary guitarist Eddie was mad as he explained, “I’d rather have a bomb with one of my own songs than a hit with someone else’s.” So, this was obviously a not-very-eagerly-made album as the record company forced Van Halen to compose the album with songs that were already successful, even though it was a good commercial for the band as their album spent 65 weeks on the album chart and sold 4 million copies in the US.

6- 5150

  • Released: March 24, 1986

The seventh studio album of Van Halen, 5150, was also the first album of Sammy Hagar with the band after he replaced David Lee Roth. So, of course, there had been lots of discussions about this album which were caused by the loyal fans of Roth. But yet, no one couldn’t deny the album’s charms and its great songs as the band reshaped its sound to a whole different level along with incorporating Hagar into its lineup successfully. So, the album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, surpassing the band’s previous album, as it has also become one of the greatest rock albums and one of Van Halen’s most complete recordings.

5- Van Halen II

A graphic of the "VH" flying-V style logo

  • Released: March 23, 1979

It would have been so natural if a band’s album that has been made in rush was called sloppy. But with Van Halen? Yeah, we would also suggest not to hold breathe that much, if that would be the real case. Even though the legendary band had to record their second studio album in just three weeks, it wasn’t even a case for them at the time. So, the album might also seem like a lighter copy of the band’s debut, but it also sure is some of the greatest hard rock ever made, too. Peaking at number 6 on the Billboard 200, the album has also proven itself, and its blasted songs by also selling over 6 million copies in the US alone and receiving great reception, as well.

4- Women and Children First

  • Released: March 26, 1980

Women and Children First might be the third studio album of Van Halen as the band had already gained huge regard before they released it. But it is also considered the first album that the band has proven itself and its music completely by consisting of a tracklist filled with the band’s unique sound and lyrics all along, rather than featuring any cover songs like previous ones. So, the album peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200 along with reaching high places on other charts all around the world, as well, while it also garnered generally favorable reviews.

3- Fair Warning

A crude painting of a street scene with a man assaulting someone and onlookers passing by

  • Released: April 29, 1981

Credited as the darkest and nastiest album of Van Halen, Fair Warning might also be the least commercially successful release of the band had in the David Lee Roth era despite selling over 2 million copies. But again, this never meant that the album was also one of the least successful albums of the regarded band, neither to fans nor critics, as it could still manage to garner great reviews from everyone and become one of the best albums Van Halen ever released.

2- 1984

  • Released: January 9, 1984

The sixth studio album of Van Halen, 1984, was the breakthrough point of the band, which also turned them all into rock stars. The album’s tracks were all on fire in any way the members could have offered. Well, they sure provided one of the bests with 1984, as Eddie Van Halen made all fans just listen to his great keyboard skills in awe, while also David Lee Roth enchanted everyone as well with his strong voice also boasted with tons of energy, obviously. The album peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 behind Michael Jackson‘s ‘Thriller’, which also featured Eddie Van Halen playing a guitar solo on “Beat It.” So, we don’t even need the urge to mention its amazing reception and over 10 million sales.

1- Van Halen

The album's cover artwork

  • Released: February 10, 1978

Here we are ending this list where it all started. Well, this was actually the most and probably the only ending anyone could ever accept without hesitation, after all. The self-titled debut album of Van Halen had already heralded they were coming to become one of the greatest rock bands of all time, as they did so. To a band that just makes its debut, selling more than 10 million copies just in the US along with peaking at number 19 could have been only a dream, a dream Van Halen made true. Including the band’s most known songs such as Runnin’ with the Devil, Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love, Jamie’s Cryin’, Van Halen I is sure one of the richest albums ever produced. All the members of the band have been praised for their amazing performances, as also Eddie Van Halen showcased one of the greatest guitar solos of all time in Eruption, gaining everyone’s regard that also led him to be considered as the legendary guitarist as well.


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