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Please Explain: Bon Jovi
2007-05-02 22:07
by Scott Long

With American Idol having a Bon Jovi night this week, I thought it was a good time to explore the band's career. I've always tried to not be an elitist about music here, as I realize that people have all kinds of genres that they want to listen to. If it was 1990, I wouldn't be using the band as a Please Explain topic, as Bon Jovi was the quintessential American pop metal band of the 1980's.


I know I will get slagged for this, but I like some of Bon Jovi's debut album, as Runaway and She Don't Me were better than almost anything new coming out on classic rock radio at the time.

Their sophomore release sucked, but their 3rd release, Slippery When Wet is the best pop metal album released by anyone not named Def Leppard. Livin' On a Prayer is good enough to be on a Springsteen album, while You Give Love a Bad Name and Wanted Dead or Alive were slamdunks right out of the box. Sure radio has killed the songs, but I give the group credit for this album. I grade on a curve and compared to the Poison's and Warrant's of the world, Bon Jovi was a big step-up.

Bon Jovi was able to follow-up this monster smash with another album loaded with hit singles, New Jersey. While it had nothing artistically on the level of Livin' On a Prayer, it was still solid arena rock. Guns and Roses had come out with Appetitie for Destruction by this time, which didn't hurt record sales for Bon Jovi, but exposed them to being pretty fluffy in comparison.

By 1992, when Bon Jovi was set to release their next record, grunge rock had taken over and all of sudden you were even seeing hair metal guys wearing flannel. It was the best time period for rock music, outside of the late 60's, and it made Winger, Slaughter, Europe, and their fellow aqua-net breathren seem really silly. While Bon Jovi was superior to these bands, it is remarkable to me that they were the only ones who have continued to ship millions of albums and play sell-out arenas. I mean outside of a couple decent singles, Bon Jovi has made a lot of crappy music since this point.

So what are the reasons that Bon Jovi have been able to thrive, while the rest of their fellow mousse-metal members have little to do, except play county fairs and appear on VH-1 retrospective programs?

  • I know some of it has to do with Bon Jovi having the largest amount of quality songs from this genre, but that still doesn't explain why they still can hit the top of the Billboard charts when they put out a new record.
  • Another reason for their continued success is that lead singer Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Ritchie Sambora are sex symbols, but it wasn't like guys in any band who stalked the Sunset Strip ever had had trouble cultivating a female following, as well.
  • Being from the East Coast gave them a regional advantage, as all the SoCal fluffy-follicle-fellows had to compete with each other. Bon Jovi always seemed more down to earth and more All-American. While these characteristics explain some of their continued success, it also creates a bigger mystery to why they are so huge in the rest of the world. They have sold a ton more albums in Europe than Springsteen ever has and actually have had better luck charting new singles on that continent that on their home shores, during the past decade. What this tells me is that just like McDonalds, Europeans like to consume shit just as much as we do.

So my question for this week is to Please Explain Bon Jovi, post 1990? How have they been able to flourish for so long, with a style of music that gets no radio play besides by them and some of the lame ass ballads that Aerosmith pumps out?


2007-05-03 00:59:07
1.   joejoejoe
Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora are sex symbols in a non-threatening way which makes them more media friendly. If you see the guys from Poison on VH1 they look like 40 year-old lechs that would be dating 17 year-old strippers. Bon Jovi is married to his high school sweetheart and Sambora was married to Heather Locklear, another famous figure who has maximized her career, for 13 years with little or no controversy. That is a big time appealing to the morning talk show circuit - the bad boy domesticated is a TV staple.

Throw in Bon Jovi's steady B-Movie acting career, his political activism, his music producing, his Arena football team, Heather Locklear's omnipresence, the Superbowl half-time shows - these guys are everywhere, getting positive press. I agree with your take on the music but few people are as good at the business part of show business as Jon Bon Jovi.

I also think Bon Jovi was probably the last new music that a lot of baby boomers really enjoyed and that's a huge commercial wave to surf. The 40 year-old woman that had the hots for the 25 year-old Jon Bon Jovi in 1987 is now a 60 year-old woman that has the hots for the 45 year-old Jon Bon Jovi in 2007. Apart from whatever talents and professionalism Bon Jovi possesses - the band is in a demographic sweet spot.

2007-05-03 03:07:29
2.   chris in illinois
I think joejoejoe nailed some of the reasons above, I'll contribute a few data points:

I'm no fan of their music, but It seems like they genuinely were/are in the business because they love what they do and they are primarily interested in the music. This stands in stark contrast to the other bands of the era who were chasing women and Mr. Brownstone more than they were a decent tune.

Bon Jovi also puts on a great show (providing you like their music). In my role as husband, I have been to a couple Bon Jovi shows and I actually didn't hate it. They are actually very good musicians who (IMO) just don't have the material to make it very interesting for me for long periods of time----but fans of their music are rarely disappointed.

I guess my bottom line answer is that Bon Jovi is


That's a pretty solid combination of characteristics to have in the music biz.

2007-05-03 06:12:08
3.   Vishal
great choice of "please explain". i've always wondered, myself. but then i've always wondered about ALL hair metal. why oh why?

(ps. i love the blog scott, but please, ixnay on the pluralizing with apostrophes. it's a pet peeve of mine.)

2007-05-03 06:20:39
4.   Penarol1916
I honestly had no idea that any of Bon Jovi's records were hits after that song from Young Guns 2. This is a complete shock to me. I think that Bon Jovi was always the softest and least hair metal of the hair metal bands, and that is probably one of the reasons why they did well after 1990. My guess is also that out of every genre you will get one or two of the giants that continue along for a while. Who were the giants of this era that could have had longer careers? Bon Jovi, Guns 'n Roses, Motley Crue, and maybe Poison. GnR imploded, and I think Motley Crue and Poison were too associated with the excesses of the era that grunge was the reaction against. Bon Jovi, by virtue of their softness, was able to transcend being put into the hair metal hole.
2007-05-03 06:35:47
5.   D4P
Bon Jovi cut his hair. I also don't think he has any tattoos, at least not visible. He has a presentable image.

BTW: I'm hoping there's a "Please Explain: Rosie O'Donnell" in the queue

2007-05-03 07:32:38
6.   Voxter
Shot through the heart
and you're to blame
Baby you give love a bad name

It's all about getting a techno act to sample you on a hit song.

2007-05-03 07:33:48
7.   Shaun P
Not everyone liked grunge (me, for example). I hung on to 80s-style rock bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard while grunge had its run. Eventually alternative rock took over and influenced the remaining 80s rock bands. I know grunge was really popular, but not everyone liked it.

Nostalgia carries things from there. So many people who grew up in the 80s, liked Bon Jovi a lot, then forgot about them due to grunge/alt rock/rap/whatever . . . and then all of a sudden its 2000 and Bon Jovi has a new album and a new song, and it kinda sounds like their great 80s stuff . . . I know many people who 'rediscovered' Bon Jovi then and found they still liked it, sorta, not in the least because it reminded them of "the good old days".

2007-05-03 07:44:05
8.   Knuckles
Never underestimate the outsized impact Jersey people have on this country. The state's so damn crowded that our biggest export is prob'ly loud people, who, whenever a Bon Jovi song comes on in a bar, will immediately cheer maniacally, sing even louder, and shout to anyone nearby that "this song always reminds of that summer, down the shore, when me and 15 of my friends rented that shthole in Belmar!"

All the similar, original local fans of Whitesnake/GnR/Motley Crue are probably still in West Hollywood, trying to get a job in "the industry."

2007-05-03 07:51:47
9.   AbbyNormal821
This is my first post outside of Bronx Banter! I'm actually a little nervous!
Slippery When Wet is the best pop metal album released by anyone not named Def Leppard.
While this is about Bon Jovi, I'm glad you've recognized Def Leppard, another victim of the grunge era, who have somehow managed to sift their way out of the ashes and while they may not have the multi-million copy success of their past efforts, they still rock on. They've been one of my favorite bands for as long as I can remember!

By the way - I recommend Leppard's 1996 release "Slang" if you want to hear a 'non-Leppard' sounding Leppard album! Very dark, but it's cool!

I may be one of the few out there who would dare to say that were it not for DL albums like Pyromania, and Hysteria (still in my top 10 favorites of all time!), half the bands that came out of the 'decade of decadence' would not have made it as big as they did. These are two of the most influential rock albums of that era (technical masterpieces!).

While I wasn't so much a fan of Bon Jovi, I appreciated them more, along with Leppard than the other crap wanna-be bandsbecause I felt that they truly love making music first and the chicks and all the other excesses were side affects of their succes. I think this is why these bands are still out there. Leppard may not have the commercial success as much as Bon Jovi these days, but I'll tell ya - I saw them live last summer and they STILL rocked it!

Whew! OK, I'm done!

2007-05-03 07:58:54
10.   buttons82179
I am a true Jovi fan. Have been since I was 11 years old and I'm 28 now. I loved the music then as much as I do now. Jon and Richie make a great song writing team. They know how to tell a story and many people relate to the music. For some it is nostalgia, but for most it's just a continuation of great music that they have always loved. The "just older" crowd fell in love with Bon Jovi in the 80's and the younger crowd is following suit. You can't write off a huge, nearly sold out tour in '05 and '06 as just people reliving memories. The new album in '05 was a big hit for them and sold more copies in it's first week than any of their previous albums. "Have A Nice Day" rocked. Plain and simple. There are always going to people that discredit the band because they started in the 80's. But the fact that they started back then isn't what makes them great, it's the fact that they are still around that does. Add in the fact that the band does alot for charity, is very community minded, have good lives and are not always in the news for DUIs and drugs and the lead singer is brilliant in business, and you should be able to see the reason they are still loved around the world.

And yes, Jon does have tatoos. One on each shoulder. Superman symbol on the left and and a cow skull with feathers on the right.
Richie has some, too.

If it were just the older crowd that loved them, it might be different. But I know alot of kids, including my own that love them, too.

I still listen to Poison, Metallica, Motley Crue, Def Leopard and all the 80's stuff because it was my favorite era, but I'd probably not waste my time to go see them in concert because if I want to hear the same ole stuff, I can do that from home. Bon Jovi has been consistent in producing new stuff. Even during the grunge era, which is one reason they are so popular in Europe and love playing there. Europe still had a high demand for them when America had forgotten them.

Oh, yeah. Look for the new album :Lost Highway" on June 19th. :)

2007-05-03 08:20:50
11.   Josh Wilker
I don't know much about Bon Jovi (when they first came out I had such a vague conception of them--by then I was immersed in a Bob Marley-tinged cloud of pot smoke--that I confused them with Aldo Nova, who I had earlier confused with Yngwie Malmsteen), but I do recall that one of the slight bumps in the road for the guy whose looks are responsible for the girl-used comparative phrase "Bon Jovi hot" (as in, "wow, that guy's pretty hot--not Bon Jovi hot, but pretty hot nonetheless") was when he went on tour and played a bunch of his hits in new, unorthodox ways. Am I remembering this right? His fans didn't like it, by and large. When you go to Burger King, you want the Whopper to taste like a fricken Whopper. Bon Jovi, except for that one misstep, is good at churning out the Whoppers, I guess.
2007-05-03 08:41:02
12.   Sandus
2007-05-03 08:48:30
13.   AbbyNormal821
12 CLASSIC! I've seen that sketch before (the entire DVD actually) and my eyes start watering from laughing so much!
2007-05-03 08:52:36
14.   buttons82179
I LOVE that video!
2007-05-03 08:54:47
15.   Ravenscar
Perhaps you should re-title this one as follows:

Please Explain: New Jersey

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Please tip your waitress and enjoy the PATH train.

2007-05-03 09:05:25
16.   Scott Long
I knew this wouldn't be as dynamic of a topic as some of the others I have taken on, but I'm happily surprised on how much good stuff is coming out here.

Joe to the 3rd power nails most of the reasons, though Bon Jovi charting even more in Europe is still a big mystery. (one of those Hasselhoff in Germany deals, I suppose that we will never understand.) Penarol and Shaun also hit other issues. Thanks for the enlightenment.

I've liked all the comments so far, but my 2 favs were Chris discussing his "role as husband" in seeing Bon Jovi and Josh using "Bon Jovi hot", which is now one of my favorite new phrases. You are very correct about the Burger King analogy, Josh. I have discussed this with people in the past, but never using the Whopper to sell my point. On the mention of Aldo Nova, 2 of my favorite hair metal songs were by him. Fantasy and Monkey on Your Back.

Vishal. I really appreciate your kind comments, as you are one of the best writers who contribute at the Toaster. Here is a sad confession. I hated grammar and basically just got by. For most people this isn't a big deal, but of course for someone who has their own blog, it is a bit problematic. WHen I was a journalism student in high school and college, I always had someone to edit my stuff when it was published. I've mentioned before, if someone wants to be my editor, I would love to have them help me. Having said this, I can understand why no one has taken me up on this, as I sure wouldn't want to do it. Hell, I don't even want to do it for myself, as my works proves. On that note, I seem to catch more errors when I post the piece, so the first 10 minutes its up, I often am fixing things. Behind the scenes stuff.

2007-05-03 09:11:35
17.   buttons82179
I love the "Bon Jovi hot" phrase! I've never heard that before! LOL
2007-05-03 09:15:13
18.   fordprefect
Bon Jovi?

I Can't Explain.
(Apologies to Pete Townshend & co.)


2007-05-03 09:16:35
19.   Johnson
10 I haven't given Bon Jovi a second look since "Slippery", but seriously, how does a song called "Have A Nice Day" make its way onto an arena rock album? What's the rest of the tracklist?

"Please and Thank You"
"Stay in School, Kids"
"21 Means 21"
"You Better Wash Your Hands If You Work Here"

2007-05-03 09:20:08
20.   buttons82179
Have a Nice Day isn't meant to be a nice song. Try listening to it. When it's played live in concert, Richie flips the bird during the line Have a Nice Day.
2007-05-03 09:31:45
21.   buttons82179
Have A Nice Day Video

2007-05-03 09:51:43
22.   Scott Long
Johnson gives out the funniest comment I've read here in awhile. I'm guessing Bon Jovi fans would love "you better wash your hands if you work here". Maybe they could do it to the tune of Lay your hands on me?

Buttons, Buttons, Buttons. I love that you are willing to share your adult passion for the boys from Jersey, but remember that whatever you post will be up for a long time. Oh that rascal Sambora, giving out the finger like a actress-bangin', multi-millionaire version of Johnny Cash. This is the dilemma that adult men doing teenage rock have to deal with.

2007-05-03 09:54:08
23.   Jen
I grew up in Jon's hometown and I still can't explain him.
2007-05-03 09:59:47
24.   Schteeve
They are smart businessmen who are riding one or two ridiculously catchy hooks for all they are worth.
2007-05-03 10:00:30
25.   Schteeve
Also, Have a Nice Day is the worst song ever recorded.
2007-05-03 10:02:55
26.   Schteeve
Further, Jon Bon Jovi hasn't lost his panty wetting good looks to the extent that Vince Niel and those dudes from Poison have.

Warrant was never in the same league as Bon Jovi, they were pretty second rate.

I'm just still heartbroken that Enuff Znuff and Faster Pussycat never got the respect they deserved. Those guys were.......wait for it..........


2007-05-03 10:03:49
27.   buttons82179
Well, I get alerts on all things online about Bon Jovi and it amazes me that people talk the way they do and most have never truely given them a chance since the 80s. If you mean it being posted online for a long about flipping the bird, I don't see how that is really a big deal seeing as our dear president doing it is all over the net. As for my being a fan of Bon Jovi being here for a long time.... well, my views of the band won't change so what difference does it make? And I don't see it as adult men doing teenage rock. I see it as a band that does what they love and what they are good at and there are alot of people that love to hear and see them do it.
When you critize them, is it because you don't like the music or only the fact that they started in the 80s?
Have you even been to one of their concerts since 2000?
2007-05-03 10:11:56
28.   AbbyNormal821
25 I beg to differ:
"Wild Boys" by Duran Duran is!
"Don't Pay the Ferryman" by Chris DeBurgh is!
"Rico Suave" by Gerardo is!
...and ANYTHING by Air Supply!!!
2007-05-03 10:14:07
29.   buttons82179
Can I just ask...... who are Enuff Znuff and Faster Pussycat?

And the worst song ever is Cottoneyed Joe! Ewww!

2007-05-03 10:15:44
30.   Scott Long
My comment was that Bon Jovi are very safe rockers, so I think the whole flippin' the bird deal is pretty ridiculous. You are not Kid Rock, Sambora, though you do share the same type of taste in women.

My question was the bigger one of why they have had such a long, successful career, despite producing a handful of decent songs the past 17 years. I think the posters here have answered the question for me.

I'm not trying to slag you personally, though I do recommend that you check out some music outside of the hair metal scene. Start with some early pearl jam and U2. It's the most palpable for 80's pop metal fans.

Enuff Znuff were really good. The hair metal Cheap Trick. Now Cheap Trick is the band that should be much bigger than Bon Jovi, but they've never been able to market themselves as well.

2007-05-03 10:21:09
31.   Scott Long
I have to agree with the bon jovi fan on number 28. Especially on Wild Boys. I believe someone could be "Duran Duran hot", as well.
2007-05-03 10:27:51
32.   buttons82179
LOL I like alot of other bands besides Bon Jovi. Nickleback and Hinder are 2 of my favorites. I only like one song by Pearl Jam and U2 is ok but just not "Palpable" for me. I like a lot of current and past artists from all genres. Bon Jovi is just my fav. I get that it's hard for some people to get it, but when I'm stressed or agnry or sad, music helps me relax. And Bon Jovi works the best. While Jon is good looking, I thought he was ugly when I first started listening to them in the early 90s. Different music means different thing to every person. It just baffles me that people feel the need to pick on Bon Jovi because they started in 80s, even though it's mostly because they don't care for the style of music they play. You don't see people bashing other bands from the era this way. In fact, you don't see them bashing any other artist this way. So, why Bon Jovi? Saying you don't like the music is one thing but putting down the band themselves is crap.

Anyway time for work....

2007-05-03 10:29:08
33.   AbbyNormal821
31 LOL!! Duran Duran was my first "crush". I wanted to marry the drummer, Roger Taylor (not to be mistaken with the Roger Taylor drummer from Queen!)
I think back then, with a band like them is was OK to refer to them as "hot" by their individual names ("Simon Le Bon Hot", "John Taylor Hot") Ah, memories!
30 I couldn't stand Pearl Jam when they first hit, but years later, I have to say now...Ten was a GREAT album! (but the video for "Jeremy" kind of freaked me out!)
2007-05-03 10:38:54
34.   JasonO
Bon Jovi was to the 80's as
Nirvana was to the 90's as
Fleetwood Mac was to the 70's as
the Beach Boys were to the 60's

Each band's music had some connection with the overall ethos of each decade.

2007-05-03 10:51:25
35.   Penarol1916
32. I find your enjoyment of Nickleback far more easy to pick on than your enjoyment of Bon Jovi.
2007-05-03 11:06:49
36.   Alvaro Espinoza
"By 1992, when Bon Jovi was set to release their next record, grunge rock had taken over and all of sudden you were even seeing hair metal guys wearing flannel. It was the best time period for rock music, outside of the late 60's,..."

Scott, I dig your post and enjoyed the read but this sentence was an ABSOLUTE WHOPPER!!! Not only did you over-value grunge, you completely discounted the greatest decade that rock has ever known. Please tell me that the "6" is supposed to be a "7". Otherwise, I'm sending Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Queen and Pink Floyd over to kick your ass immediately ;)

2007-05-03 11:23:13
37.   Scott Long
Nickelback and Hinder are awful groups. Not even worth doing a Please Explain on.
I really don't understand the appeal of Hinder, at all and really don't want to know. Hey Guns and Roses fans. If you miss them so much, don't go to crap like Hinder, start supporting a good band like Buckcherry.

Ok, Alvano, I should have been more specific. Let's go with 67-71. Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix all releasing their best stuff. No 5 year period comes close.

I'm not just talking grunge here, as this was the heyday of alternative rock, with other great bands hitting their stride. (90-94) It went way beyond the Seattle scene.

2007-05-03 13:13:58
38.   Begemotike
It amazes me how often I see this question; not 'why do you like Bon Jovi' or anything along those lines, but specifically 'why are they still popular in a large, mainstream way?'. Also, paraphrasable as 'why the hell are they still releasing hit albums and songs? Aren't they washed out rockers?'.

I guess I feel an obligation to answer questions like this because I'm an excellent example of why Bon Jovi has had such longevity. Well, and also because I'm weird enough to put the band name into google news and pull up things like this.

I'm a twenty six year old guy, and my musical tastes do not run into grunge, heavy metal, pop metal, or any kind of really 'hard' rock. I have pretty diverse tastes, however, and there is usually one or two artists out of each genre I might like, even if they aren't mainstream, but my point is, when I say I really enjoy Bon Jovi it's not because I'm also popping on some Def Leppard at the same time, or listening to Daughtry right now. My favorite music outside of Bon Jovi is all over the place, with people like Bill Morrissey, The Duhks, Dar Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earl, Rusted Root, Van Morrison, Ratatat, Faithless, and many many others all figuring pretty high.

So why, do I, a young twenty year old, enjoy a pop metal band from the 80's? The answer is... I don't. But first, a little bit of history.

As most people know, Bon Jovi made it big in the heyday of the 80's, and were one of the most prominent missionaries of huge, arena/stadium rock shows. Their first album sold well, but not spectacularly, their second was doing worst. It was close to becoming like many many other bands at the time who made it big with a catchy hit and then dive bombed back into obscurity.

Instead, of course, they came out of the gate with Slippery When Wet and knocked their sales clean out of the park. They went on tour and didn't quit. Shortly after that, they released New Jersey, farmed more huge hits out of that, and just kept on touring. These were two huge success basically back to back, and they never took a break in between, but kept touring like maniacs, not just in the US, but all over the world. They were the first rock band to perform in the USSR, they were all over europe, Japan, and South/Central America. On a global scale, they established their reputation not with just album tracks, but as a live act.

By this point, the constant pace had just about worn them to breaking point. Jons voice was just about shot permanently, people were feeling sour, and everyone was just exhausted, creatively and emotionally. The managers, riding flush with success, wanted more another album, and another tour. The band talked about splitting up, because they were sick of it.

Instead, Jon fired the managers and took over himself, which most wouldn't expect of a twenty something major rock store. He asked the bandmates to trust him, and everyone went on a five year sabbatical and pursued their own things. Music, sculpting, whatever.

Five years is a long, long time in the music business. The 80's vanished, the 90's appeared, hair metal was history, and most of the hair metal bands were history with it. Grunge, alt rock hit the scene. That was the atmosphere under which Bon Jovi reconvened.

What they did next, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most important keys to their success. They could have stuck with the exact same thing they had done before... they didn't. They could have tried to become Pearl Jam (ha ha!) and they didn't. Aware of how the times had changed, they subtly changed their own music while still staying definitely within the bounds of what sounds like Bon Jovi. Their songs changed a great deal more into social commentary, with tracks like Keep the Faith, Believe, Save a Prayer, the ten minute long Dry County, and Fear among others. The point is, they did what every truly enduring artist who is passionate about their work has ever done, they explored, and they evolved, while staying true to what they were as a group. You can argue that they still sucked, or that their 'social commentary' had the depth of a puddle, you can argue what you like, but the core fact of how they changed is true.

And Keep the Faith (1992) was a total success, and they engaged in another sold out tour. Shortly after that, they came back with These Days, a considerably darker album where the band evolved even further in the direction started with Keep the Faith. These Days is probably their closest thing to a flop in the United States, selling barely a million albums, but it was a runaway hit in europe, hitting number one in areas and eclipsing artists like Michael Jackson.
So Bon Jovi did another smart thing - they toured the hell out of the rest of the world. As David Bryan, the groups keyboardist said, they went everywhere where there was power, and in some places, they brought their own. And they continued to keep their name established as a premier live act.

Then they took another really long break, and when they came back, the music scene had changed again, and some might argue that it was very much for the worst... boy bands were on top of the charts. It was 2000, five years later (again) and Bon Jovi simply evolved further, and toured every bit as hard. Crush was a major success, and imprinted itself on an entirely new generation, including yours truly. It's also an excellent example of a band experimenting, as nearly every song on the album is experimenting with a different style and song type.
Since then, they've released two more albums, Bounce, which did okay, but they toured heavily with it as well, and Have a Nice Day, which has done very well and given them several singles, including a number one. Both those albums have very different sounds, as the band continues to change.

Is a trend appearing? First, the band changes with the times without losing their integrity as themselves. Gone are the wild guitar solos of the eighties. They are very much in the business to succeed, and they hire producers who are producing other major hit artists of the time. It's My Life, was produced by the same individual who produced Bye Bye Bye by, I think, N'sync. You can hear the similarities in the songs.
Similar? Yes. But also quite different? Definitely yes as well, from the lyrics that care a little bit less as to whether or not people like them ('like frankie said, I did it my way' is a reference to Frank Sinatra that most people discouraged Bon Jovi from writing since he was told no one cared about Frank Sinatra but him) to the fact that a five man band was playing it themselves, with all the passion and skill of seasoned musicians.

And that's the other important element. They have worked hard to establish themselves as a class live act. Each one of them is very very good at the instruments they play, and there isn't much room for argument on that. You may call Richie Sambora soft, but that he is a very talented lead guitarist is true. David Bryan, Tico Torress, Hugh McDonald, are all respected in the industry, and Bon Jovi has voice chops that many people would kill for. You put that together into a group that is charismatic and throws themselves into a concert wholeheartedly, with perfected showmanship, and you can easily create a fan out of someone who came to the concert out of little else to do. Which is precisely what they have done.

Because of this artistry, the band has versatility. They can play folk music, bluegrass music, reggea, jazz, blues, hard rock, alt rock, grunge rock, country, and oldies hits with equal ease, and the trick is, they do. They re-invent their own music and play versions would have never imagined they could (and if you want, I can provide some links to demonstrate) and they cover songs from a very diverse range of artists. And then they apply this versatility to each new album. They frequently upset some of their more hardcore fans with a lot of experimentation that they do, but just like Bruce Springsteen upset many of his fans with something like the Seeger Sessions, it's the willingness and more importantly, the compulsion to explore as musicians that keeps someone around.

Which is precisely it - Bon Jovi is still around. More than twenty years later. Does a band endure because the lead singer has good looks? Good looks help, to be sure, but there are enough good looking singers out there to drown a stadium. The rock is 'safe'? There is enough 'safe' music out there to numb the minds of billions. And those folks might make it big for a while. But do they stick around for the better part of two decades? To imply that that kind of longevity comes from some sort of marketable, quantifiable, and controllable factor is, frankly, absurd. If that were the case, artists with that kind of durability would be manufactured by lables in droves (and believe me, they try).

No, at the end of the day, the artist that endures is one who is sincere and truly in love with the music they create. A lot of artists are that way and never make it big, many make it big and then fade out of view, but those who are sincere, and continue to write the kind of music that resonates with people, they maintain their superstar status. You need to have business savvy, you need to write music that people like, but if it doesn't come from the heart people are simply going to outgrow liking you.

And that, my friends, is why Bon Jovi is still around.

To me, a lot of their lyrics are simple, but they are written, played, and sung with a passion that most music is not. Jon having tears on his face during a concert might well be some good acting, then again, it might not.

A quick response, also, to the people who consistently find fault with Bon Jovi not being the 'bad boys' of rock, or something along those lines. People don't listen to Bon Jovi because they are safe - they often do like them, however, because they are nice people, and this shows in their music. Buckcherry may be very talented, but their music doesn't make my day better. Bon Jovi is rock that is much like the average human being. Trying to be nice to the world at large, a bit under siege by life, and trying to maintain a good attitude about it. When you hear someone perform a song like that with sincerity, with passion, and with skill, you don't need it to be the most groundbreaking lyrics or mind numbingly edgy music. It resonates with you, and it makes your day better.

2007-05-03 13:30:04
39.   AbbyNormal821!
Yeah, that pretty much says it all! Good stuff there!
2007-05-03 13:54:47
40.   Scott Long
To Mr. 38. First let me thank you for putting so much time and effort into your post. You gave me your own little Wikipedia on the subject and offered some new facts to me. Now....where you really went overboard was the paragraph where you discussed the bands artistry and versatility.
Artistry=Bon Jovi is a wrong answer in any math/music textbook. OK, they are versatile. Well, Donny Osmond could play 20 instruments, but it doesn't mean he is good at any of them. It scares me deeply to think there are reggae, jazz, or bluegrass versions of Bon Jovi.

Thanks again for your offerings. I would suggest to spend more time listening to Springsteen, Van Morrison, and Steve Earle and leave the bubblegum metal to the 40 year-old housewives, but that's just my opinion.

2007-05-03 16:15:13
41.   Begemotike

Thanks for your response. It's possible that in using the word artistry I set off the wrong responses, in that it would kind of be like me saying Bon Jovi engages in High Art, or even that they are the Best Rock Band Ever Ever! First, it's a very lofty claim to make, and secondly, it's very subjective.

What I meant by using that word is that they have a very high degree of skill at what they do. Whether it's writing catchy choruses, knowing how to turn a phrase, understanding the progression of a song, or whatever the way they craft their music isn't something just anyone can do. It takes a lot of skill and talent, and I use that last word with awareness, one may not like the talent, but it takes it to make it - it takes talent to compose a britney spears hit, it's just not Ms. Spears's talent, and it may not be the best use of it, but someone out there had to know a lot about what they were doing to do it.

Perhaps, then, a better, less contentious word would be to say they are craftsmen (and the argument about what is a craft and what is art can be a fun one). They know what they are doing, and they are experts at doing it, and there aren't that many others that can do it as well.

Hopefully, that made more sense.

Oh, and surely this isn't THAT scary:

Well, maybe it is... but it's good to be scared! Keeps the ol heartrate up....

2007-05-03 16:38:34
42.   Scott Long
Now who intro'd that song saying "to all the black people in the audience?" Did Don Imus join the group? It seems like Jon tries to cover it up by correcting saying Bob Marley fans. In America I would guess 95 percent of reggae sales are by Cracker-ass-Crackers.

You seem like a good dude, Begemotike. I appreciate your rationality on the group. Hey I have my less than artistic favorites, as well. Bon Jovi are craftsmen-like in their approach, but few craftsmen are world-wide stars. This is the amazing part of the group to me. Can it be completely explained? I'm sure even Jon Bon Jovi has to be surprised sometimes.

Added wikipedia note. Bon Jovi's mother is a former playmate and his father was a hairdresser. Now that explains a lot.

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