Listen to the Sammy Hagar-approved synthwave cover of Van Halen's Dreams

Arena's Joey Arena
(Image credit: Ingrooves)

Here at Louder we might not be terribly au fait with synthwave (described by Wikipedia as "an electronic music microgenre that is based predominately on the music associated with action, science-fiction, and horror film soundtracks of the 1980s"), but when Sammy Hagar starts talking about it, well, we listen.  

So what's the connection between Red Rocker and this new-fangled brand of old-fashioned pop music? Well, synthwave act Arena have covered Van Halen's 1986 smash Dreams, and Hagar loves it.

"Arena's cover of Dreams could be my favourite cover anyone has done of any of my songs," says Hagar. "I'll give it five stars and a must-hear."

"If I could find the soundtrack to my childhood, no song would compete with Dreams," says Arena's Joey Arena. "I recall hearing it for my first time on the radio in 93’ but never got the name, and at the end of The Power Rangers Movie (1995). The song popped up and brought me full circle. 

"When I received word from my team that Sammy had wrapped ears around the track, I was beyond grateful for his time but then we received both written and visual endorsements, I became speechless and choked up. I grew up being a huge Sammy fan and to have this legend take a moment and acknowledge me, I remembered what it felt like to be a fan and no longer a musician."

Arena continues, "I have experienced some great achievements as a musician but this personally surpasses all of that. I cannot thank him and his team enough for making a dream come true. When I hear Dreams, it brings me to a younger, more free and imaginative self. What more could we really want from nostalgia?"

What more, indeed? And while Arena's cover of Dreams might bring the synthesisers to the forefront, the guitar hasn't been entirely neglected, with Ice Nine Kills axeman Justin "JD" deBlieck adding some suitably sophisticated shredding to the track. 

"When Arena brought the idea of a synth wave project to me I was so thrilled," says deBlieck. "We both grew up wishing we were teens in the 80s. Soon after he mentioned he’d like to re-imagine a Van Halen song, it was almost immediately that we knew Dreams was going to be the one. As huge fans of the Hagar era it was a no brainer. 

"With the tragic passing of the legendary Eddie Van Halen we wanted to make the song more of a tribute to his legacy."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.