Bon Jovi: 50 Big Ones
by Justin Farrar | March 22, 2013
Tagging Bon Jovi "rock 'n' roll survivors" misses the point by a few million light years. REO Speedwagon playing the winery circuit in 2013 ... now that's survival. In other words, many moons ago, the latter were A-list hitmakers, but now they're an AOR oldies act playing musty radio faves to nostalgia-soaked fans. Bon Jovi, in stark contrast, have never fallen out of fashion, nor have they ever resorted to trading on past success.
Indeed, they're one of the most successful acts in the history of pop, one with an obscene number of hit singles and albums spanning four decades ('80s, '90s, '00s, '10s). Such consistency and longevity can be attributed to the band's uncanny ability to remain faithful to their core sound (big-time arena rock inspired equally by The Boss and Journey) while making slight tweaks every few years in order to keep up with ever-evolving tastes in pop and rock.
This all-too-rare skill first emerged in the early '90s. When grunge kicked hair metal to the curb, Bon Jovi -- whose Slippery When Wet is one of hair metal's foundations -- should've fallen by the wayside right along with Poison and Mötley Crüe. But lo and behold, with a few vital changes in both sound and image (i.e. less Aquanet, more earnest rocker vibes), they kept on trucking: Keep the Faith and These Days combined to sell in excess of 22 million copies. Plus, the hit singles were good and plenty, from "Always" and "This Ain't a Love Song" to "Keep the Faith" and "Something for the Pain."
In the 21st century, Bon Jovi haven't slowed down a bit. In fact, they kicked off the new era with one of their biggest and most beloved hits: "It's My Life," whose guitar crunch and sweeping, inspirational chorus fit snugly between all the post-grunge and U2 tunes (all that stuff from All That You Can't Leave Behind) then dominating the charts. After riding this stylistic shift through the albums Crush and the September 11-inspired Bounce (which achieved multiplatinum and platinum status, respectively), the group jumped on the Nashville train for Have a Nice Day and Lost Highway.
Ever since The Circle, released in 2009, Bon Jovi seem to be in "we can do anything" mode. This is particularly true of their brand new full-length, What About Now, which features a little of everything: pop metal, country, AOR, alternative rock, roots rock and so on. Fittingly, the lead single is "Because We Can," a title that totally captures the essence of Bon Jovi's success.