TOP 10: “Jump” Songs

January 17, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

Have you ever stopped to think about how many songs have the word “jump” in their title? And of them, how many are absolute bangers? The folks at the Great Pop Culture Debate sure have, and we’re sharing our Top 10 list of songs involving the word “jump.” Did we miss your favorite? Drop it in the comments and we’ll add it to the “Jump” Playlist below!

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Honorable Mention: “One Jump Ahead” from Aladdin

For this list we’re focusing on popular music, but “One Jump” from Disney’s Aladdin — never released as a single — is a terrific movie song with some great voice acting (“Still I think he’s rather tasty”) and a wonderful, building final bridge. It’s exhilarating and a great set up for the King of Thieves.

Honorable Mention: “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte

Probably best known as the closing song from Beetlejuice, in which Lydia is allowed to party with the spirits of a recently deceased football team (I knew Lydia was my type of girl), it’s a rollicking party number from singer, actor, and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. The word “infectious” may have been invented to describe this song.

Honorable Mention: “Jump Jive an’ Wail” by Brian Setzer Orchestra

It’s important for Gen Z and Alphas to know that, for reasons nobody can explain, around the turn of the 21st Century, there was a period in which everyone was absolutely obsessed with swing music and dancing. It was very much a Moment, there were whole movies based around it and the Gap did a whole ad campaign. A big component of this throwback to the 30s and 40s was the Brian Setzer Orchestra, which had several hits, the biggest of them “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.” You can’t knock the musicality or the energy, even its widespread cultural appreciation is mystifying from a 2020s perspective.

10. “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind

Here’s a jaunty ditty about suicide, or at least, mental health crises. Mixing disturbing lyrics with upbeat jangly guitar licks was very much the aesthetic for post-grunge group Third Eye Blind, which had all of America inadvertently singing about heroin withdrawal with “Semi-Charmed Life” just a year earlier. But “Jumper” is a terrific song, and the message is, ultimately, just as relevant now as it was then: be nicer to people who are going through a tough time. Also, does anyone else remember an episode of Real World or Road Rules where the cast had to make mental-health PSAs set to this song? Am I just inventing that?

9. “Jump To It” by Aretha Franklin

That funky bass line. That sumptuous groove. The chorus of “yeah yeah yeah yeah.” The spoken-word intro. *chef’s kiss* One of Aretha’s lesser-known bops, “Jump To It” got some cultural cred thanks to a memorable lipsynch on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4. It’s a great pop/r’n’b number that showcases Aretha’s signature vocals and soul, as she sings about needing to get off the phone because she’s expecting a ring from her hot boyfriend. The only downside is that the premise of the song is rendered moot by call waiting.

8. “Jump” by Kriss Kross

The 90s were WILD. No other decade could you have a pair of pre-teen children topping the charts by rapping, while wearing their clothes backward (YES, children, their clothes were on BACKWARDS)! Chris Smith and Chris Kelly were just 12 and 13 when their debut album was released in 1992, and listening to this song now, it’s honestly super impressive. These boys were firing off rapid-fire raps with surprising confidence at an age when most of their peers were struggling to properly microwave Elio’s pizza (source: the author’s personal experience). Kriss Kross were ultimately written off as a novelty act, but 30-plus years later “Jump” remains a legitimately good song, and I’m far more impressed with their rapping skills than I am by most of the generic mumblecore nonsense currently trending.

7. “Jumpin’ Jumpin'” by Destiny’s Child

Warning: watching that video may be nauseating, as the shaky cam + constant cuts may cause motion sickness. Doing the most for a narrative that does the least! But the song is solid, an earlier track from Destiny’s Child, back when the group was a quartet, before Michelle Williams was brought into the fold — but Beyonce was very much still the center of the show. The verses are not great. They scrape the bottom of Beyonce’s register. But the chorus is crazy catchy and it all builds to a great climax. So let’s make it hot hot!

6. “Jump” by Madonna

A secondary single from Madonna’s terrific “Confessions on a Dance Floor” album, “Jump” starts right in the groovy pocket and takes off from there. The backing tracks are almost hypnotic, and Madonna’s voice lays upon all of it perfectly. An uncomplicated, joyful track that lacks any pretense. It’s just good pop-dance music that takes you higher.

5. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by Rolling Stones

We really don’t have anything like the Stones in 2020s music. The potent masculinity, the slightly ragged musicianship (at least from their early days), that organ line — their 1960s catalogue remains thrilling to listen to even 60 years later. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is not their best song, but it is catchy and memorable. Memorable enough that it became the title for a 1980s caper film starring Whoopi Goldberg!

4. “The Jump Off” by Lil Kim

(For reasons I can’t explain, the official video link will not allow itself to be embedded. Racism!) Lil Kim was SO GOOD, you guys. We so rarely talk about Kim and her contributions to hip-hop, but she gave us some exceptional tracks, chief among them “The Jump Off.” Great, sex-positive lyrics delivered expertly by Kim, with catchy-as-hell backing samples from Timbaland, this is excellent early 2000s rap and Lil Kim deserves more respect on her name.

3. “Jump Around” by House of Pain

Songs you know within four notes. House of Pain’s “Jump Around” may be polarizing — it IS grating — but it deserves a Top 3 berth for being so unmistakable. If you were alive in the 1990s, you KNEW this song. Even if you didn’t like this song, you KNEW this song. It was a VIBE.

2. “Jump (For My Love)” by Pointer Sisters

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore the Pointer Sisters, and while it would be VERY hard to name a favorite Pointer Sisters song, “Jump” would have to be at least in the conversation. What the Pointers brought to every song, possibly better than anyone else in the game, was energy, a sense of urgency. There is something about their songs that lock onto you and pull you in, and that is absolutely the case with “Jump.” The song itself is not particularly inventive. The lyrics are repetitive. The backing instrumentation isn’t doing anything new. But the Pointers’ harmonies and soaring runs are almost alchemical. Once you get to that key change in the bridge, it is over. You want to taste those kisses in the night. We are all jumping with them!

1. “Jump” by Van Halen

I don’t know what was in the air in the mid-1980s (cocaine — it was cocaine), but the fact that acts like Van Halen were able to create music like this is, 40 years later, still astonishing. There was NOTHING that sounded like Van Halen’s “Jump” prior to this. Sure, in the 60s you started getting the Wall of Sound, in the 70s you started getting prog-rock, but this was a relentless, enveloping, euphoric musical barrage that was breathtaking then, and it remains so now. David Lee Roth’s whiskey-soaked vocals, Eddie Van Halen’s searing guitar solos, those keyboard lines — EPIC! We as a culture need to be way more impressed by the musicianship of the 80s hair bands, because this was truly virtuosic and deserves so much more credit.

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