Bon Jovi / Life in the old dog yet
5 October 2020
New Jersey’s pop/rock titans see in this decade with a more socially conscious album.
Bon Jovi – 2020 (Virgin EMI)
Release Date: 2 October 2020
Words: Robert Adams
Things have not been as rosy as they once were on planet Bon Jovi.
A series of lacklustre albums has seen their chart dominance and album sales drop faster than a hooker’s underwear.
So, the big question is – will ‘2020’ reverse that slide? The simple answer is – not really.
Granted, this album is nowhere near as awful as their previous two releases – 2016’s ‘This House Is Not For Sale’ and 2013’s ‘What About Now’ (I’m disregarding 2015’s contract obligation album ‘Burning Bridges’), but it’s still a long way off their commercial heyday.
Bon Jovi really were a band designed for the glory days of M.T.V. with their film star handsome lead singer and his rocking partner in crime on guitar.
It really was a match made in heaven. You do not need me to remind you of the hit albums, singles and sold out tours the band had from the mid 80’s to the late 90’s.
Then the wheels seemed to wobble on the Bon Jovi gravy train.
‘Limitless’ kicks off proceedings with a chiming guitar and a chorus to die for. This is exactly what Bon Jovi do best.
Richie Sambora’s replacement, Phil X, is reigned in for pretty much the whole of this album, only slipping his leash on a few occasions to show us why he was chosen in the first place.
It’s a real shame as Phil is an excellent guitarist and deserves to be heard.
‘Do What You Can’ is Jon’s take on lockdown and features some proper cheesy lyrics – “Although i’ll keep my social distance, what this world needs is a hug”.
At least he has the sense to say “I’ll never know what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes” when referring to the George Floyd killing on ‘American Reckoning’.
You have to remember, Jon Bon Jovi ISN’T a social commentator, he is an entertainer.
He said “It was far more important for me to write a record that had something to say, rather than rewrite ‘Bad Name’ 36 years later.
“I would have no interest in writing that song now, but God knows we wanted to write it then.”
That not only sums up Jon Bon Jovi in 2020, but also the ‘2020’ album. If you buy this expecting ‘Runaway’ or ‘Living On A Prayer’, then you will be sorely disappointed.
If, however, you want a Bon Jovi album that deals with real issues (however hackneyed they are portrayed) and choruses you can sing along to, then this is the album for you.
It would not be a proper Bon Jovi album without a ballad or two.
Fear not and get your insulin pen ready for the syrupy sweetness of ‘Beautiful Drug’, ‘Story Of Love’ and ‘Blood In The Water’ sounds like ‘Always’ with more socially aware lyrics.
Here’s the rub – Bon Jovi ARE formulaic. It works for them, so why chastise them for it.
While their recent albums may not be their best, they certainly know how to put on one of the most entertaining live shows you will ever see. There is still life in the old dog yet.