The name Bon Jovi tends to make you ponder a few opinions of the band. Hair metal at its best might be one, if you are into him, or just know enough of him to have a positive opinion of the music, even if you don't like it.
Hair metal at its queerest may be another response that pops into your head. Whether its the sound of his music, definitive at the time, or the whole 80's glam and leather look of his time, you might completely despise the band for that or more.
You could be in between.
Or you could be one of the few who realize the influence Bon Jovi had on the genre. This is not 'Tallica, Priest, or Zeppelin influence here one bit, but he defined the music and opened doors up for other bands of the kind, your opinion of the band being positive or not.
The founder of Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi, was born in New Jersey as John Francis Bongiovi. He started out on piano and guitar and played along with Elton John and the likes. After being a club band in his years as a sixteen year old, he entered a contest in 1980 with his song "Runaway", which he recorded with studio musicians, the guitarist later going on to Skid Row.
In 1983, Jon recruited Richie Sambora, Tico Torres, Alec John Such, and David Bryan, and started to play in clubs. They finally got the attention of a record executive who signed them to PolyGram. Under management of the famous Doc McGhee, they released their debut album, Bon Jovi, in 1984, and it went Gold in the U.S. and was released in the U.K.
Their second album, 7800 Degrees Fairenheight, had much negative feedback from everyone, fans, magazine reviewers, and even Jon Bon Jovi himself at later dates.
Slippery When Wet was released in late 1986 and launched the band to their worldwide stardom, and has sold over 12,000,000 copies worldwide since. The album from start to finish got praise from everyone, fans, reviewers, radio stations, etc. and not for no reason at all. Of course you would have to listen to the album. Here's an overview:
Let It Rock- In my opinion, not the best way to open an album. The beginning is all keyboards playing a tune unrelated to the song, and the very beginning contains some random noises. It becomes extremely drawn out even for that first minute, which usually makes me skip it (the only beginning that long should be Holy Diver), however it is a fairly good song. The keyboards in the actual song spice it up a little bit and the whole feel to the song is positive and makes you wanna get up and dance, (you know, in front of your mirror with your door cracked so you can see when someone comes). The lyrics, unfortunately are not the most original, but they are average, and the vocals are overall good.
The solo is the high point of the song.
You Give Love A Bad Name- This is one of the more enjoyable parts of the record. The whole song is original and fresh. The lyrics are well done and the whole arrangement of the music in sync with keyboards and drums are extremely catchy and at the same time heavy and sort of serious. The simplicity of the song is what allows the high points of the song, which are in my opinion the solo, drum line, and vocals, stand out. Even things as minor as the bridge are well done. Overall, this is a respectable song for anyone who likes even one song from this genre.
Livin' On A Prayer- This is what I consider to be the "unknown superstar track". I say this because more than half of the people you will talk to will know the song but not the band or the title. However, it will always go down as one of the most commercially successful songs of the genre and time. This track is definitely one of Bon Jovi's greatest accomplishments. The keyboards and guitar really stand out in this song, especially when it's being played with Richie Sambora doing whatever the hell he's doing with that little tube thing. The storyline is a Bon Jovi classic, being well written and also keeping two characters of his alive throughout his career, (Tommy and Gina, also mentioned in It's My Life, and I could have sworn there was another one).
Social Disease- The beginning to this song is a bit strange, if I may venture a clean thought about it. To venture an accurate and correct statement, the beginning sounds like a horny blond having an orgie with God knows what. The overly-sexual and excessive feeling of the beginning sets the tone for what the song is saying, which is pretty much summed up in the title...Love is A Social Disease. The lyrics themselves are pretty out there in my opinion in terms of being one thing and then another thing completely different, however the music itself is pretty average. A track that is nothing exactly different but one that shouldn't be off the album either. An iffy song, I guess you either like it or you don't.
Wanted Dead Or Alive- Whoever doesn't know this song, whether they like it or not, is musically impaired. This song will go down as one of the most commercially successful late 80's hair metal songs of all time. The whole song is very toned-down, and this is a good place in the record to place it. The entire song for the most part is based around the one opening guitar lick, kind of like "Enter Sandman", where almost no major changes occur in the flow of the song. The drums are not featured a whole lot and are very simple when they are, and the keyboard is non-existent, except for a piano line during the solo. The solo fits very well with the song and makes the whole song take it up a little bit towards the end, and makes the song go out well. The lyrics are about as cowboy rocker as you can get, which seems a bit strange from a Jersey resident.
Raise Your Hands- Underrated is the best way to describe this song. It will go down as one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs. The whole song has a positive vibe to it that just gives you this feeling of just going nuts about everything. Live, of course you have no choice but to raise your hands. The lyrics are a little unexpected, not in a bad way, but just not one of the first ideas many people would get to write a song with. The guitar riffs in this song are pretty much repetative but if the song was much more technical it would be a little overbearing. The vocal performance in this song also stands out for me in a nice way. The keyboards are not extremely audible but add that "feel" to the song.
Without Love- One of those love song-mushy power ballad-rock song fusions that make it unique and sometimes a little much. The keyboards are definitely featured more prominently than anything else. The guitars are pretty simple and the drum line is basic, however the vocals are done very well. The solo is also filled to the rim with simplicity and every part of it is followed by the keyboard, but it has a nice sound (wait, doesn't that make it a duet"). However, the lyrics are pretty average, and the whole song isn't the greatest in the Jovi arsenal.
I'd Die For You- A heavier song with a more serious sound to it, which is a little surprising considering this song is a love song. It features keyboards extremely prominently. The vocal performance and the lyrics are both over average and in my opinion are one of the better lyrical/vocal combos of the record. The guitar has a heavier sounding preset and the verses are filled with squeals and fills with the main riff which makes a nice sound. The solo, as we would expect from Richie, is well fitting and one of the better ones of the album. The drum line is again, pretty basic, but David Bryan gets a rare chance to shine on this track.
Never Say Goodbye- In my opinion, a better version of "Without Love", and has the slowest progression to it, aside from "Dead or Alive". The lyrics are pretty much a story about a relationship that would supposedly never die. It is basically like a succession of memories, almost like Nickelback's "Photograph", and it can get to be a bit much but the whole song is simple and pretty average, not great, but better than "Without Love".
Wild In The Streets- The album goes out in a good mood. The keyboards give an added "pep" to the song, especially in the intro. The verses are simple, as the drum line is a very basic four four with an extra bass beat every second count, and the guitar is kind of hard to pick out at times. The keyboard chimes in at times, but the chorus is the strongest point of the song, and the whole vocal, lyrical, and musical performance gives a nice tone to end with. The solo is a mixture between piano and old school, and I mean OLD SCHOOL rock 'n' roll, like almost "Johnny Be Good" sounding. However, it has an unexpected sweet flavor to add to the song. Again, a good choice to end with.
The band went on to record New Jersey quickly after their Slippery When Wet tour, to prove that they had more life in them, and that their defining point wasn't going to consist of only "Livin' On A Prayer". Although a busy recording schedule and life on the road threatened to tear the band apart, they released New Jersey, which consisted of hits like "Bad Medicine", "Born to Be My Baby", and "I'll Be There For You". The band took a break to recuperate from their busy life and made it through their hard time together. In the early 90's, Jon recorded the soundtrack to Young Guns II, which featured Elton John, and Jeff Beck, just to name a few. The hit on the album, however, turned out to be "Blaze of Glory", which won a Golden Globe and later appeared on the Bon Jovi album Crossroads. They also recorded Keep the Faith, and These Days, which both had a good tune or two, but they just couldn't match anything pre-New Jersey. Bon Jovi left music in the late 90's to act, and in '99, the band reunited to record the album Crush, which featured the mega-hit "It's My Life". Bon Jovi, with it's newfound popularity with a younger and older crowd, went on to tour once again and in '01, record the album Bounce. They were also the last to play Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia before it was demolished. They later released This Left Feels Right, a new twist to old songs, and in 2006, Have A Nice Day, with the title track as a commercially successful song off of the album. A few videos were made off of Have A Nice Day.
+Chances for each band member to shine at different points on different tracks.
+Commercially successful in multiple nations.
- Without Love.
- Sometimes drum/bass simplicities can be a little overbearing.
Bon Jovi, without "officially" replacing anyone in their close to 20 years of forming, has to be one of the more respectable and influencial bands of the genre, from their debut album, to Have A Nice Day, Bon Jovi has been able to provide music for fans for years, and have shown no signs of stopping.
OVERALL: SLIPPERY WHEN WET GETS ~9/10~