Bold statement: Bon Jovi enjoys a unique position in the modern popular music landscape. They are a 1980s “hair metal” band that somehow has stayed in the conversation with fans young and old alike while virtually all their peers have either long since perished or lapsed into self parody. The band has a bit of that HBO-thing going on => It’s not music. It’s Bon Jovi.
Bon Jovi may be the single biggest anomaly in stadium rock.
They appeared at the precipice of the hard rock/power ballad vortex (mid-1980s ballpark) and haven’t looked back since. In their own way, they LOOKED like a hard rock band and they made some noisy noises. However, they were never as aggro as Guns N’ Roses nor as annoyingly glib as Poison (two other fellow hard rock outfits that showed up largely around the same time).
Aside: If they were positioned differently, could the Replacements have had Bon Jovi’s career? Think about it…
– More or less, the same vintage and essentially, both were pretty traditional rock bands that could easily veer between “aggressive” and “sensitive”
– Bon Jovi were from New Jersey and the Replacements were from Minnesota so culturally, it’s a wash
– The Replacements were also known for having really big hair
– Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson easily could’ve fuelled a spread or two in Bop
Getting back to Bon Jovi…
Bon Jovi were easily one of the Top 5 rock bands of the late 1980s. Their hair was (collectively) immense. And somehow, they were the one stadium rock band of that era (with the exception of U2) that stuck together and stemmed the tide of every kind of music trend of the past quarter century. The fact they survived grunge alone is a miracle. I mean… this. 😐
Newsflash: Bon Jovi are still here!!! And young people love them!!! One would think they should be playing casinos but they’re still filling hockey arenas and castles and Wembley Stadium.
Theory: Bon Jovi never really have wavered from what they were and what they eventually became. They were clearly the kind of outfit that would elicit “What are you looking at, pretty boy?!?” cat calls from skids in bad jean jackets circa 1987. But I doubt they cared then and they certainly don’t care now… one would hope.
Bon Jovi has always been a slightly loud bar band at heart and from what I gather, their fans appreciate the honesty of their approach. This same kind of praise is often heaped on fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. However, “The Boss” has rubbed certain people the wrong way offstage by being quite vocal about his politics (ironic since he mumbles) while in Bon Jovi’s case, their primary offstage goal is likely locating the craft services table.
Bon Jovi’s whole career is one of avoidance. This is meant as a backhanded compliment.
I recently spoke to Stacie and Lorena via Facebook chat. These are two 20-something Bon Jovi “super fans” who, well… they think Bon Jovi is just great and they have since they were small children.
It’s rare to see any band inspire this kind of longstanding fandom. I asked Staice and Lorena why they think Bon Jovi has been able to turn the trick.
Here is the “warts and all” transcript…
Cam (C): bon jovi members are in their 50s. you guys are not. whats up with THAT? do they inspire you?.
Stacie (S): i’ve liked them since i was a child. growing up having an older sister and a babysitter with siblings in their teens.
Lorena (L): i was exposed to the band. liked the music and it stuck. me, I discovered them in 7th or 8th grade, i think. it was for the crossroads albums. lots of slow dancing at house parties .
C: why did it stick and not whatever else you were listening to? no doubt, 98 degrees et all.
S+L: my love grew when i then went to their concerts – AMAZING.
C: what are your thoughts on the hair of bon jovi?.
S+L: hair – we love!! stacie wants to run her fingers through his hair.
C: is jon bon jovi (aka jon bon) the john stamos of rock and roll? your hair comment btw. that’s sexist.
S+L: not on the same level at all. bon jovi has the looks and the substance with the music.
C: john stamos is an underrated “song and dance” man but point taken. what song at the concert gets the biggest rise out of the crowd? assume “livin’ on a prayer”?… and who’s at the concert?.
S+L: lots – living on a prayer, you give love a bad name…then for slow song, always and bed of roses .
C: do they bust out the JBJ solo joint “bed of roses” from the major motion picture “young guns”? shoot, not “bed of roses”…. “blaze of glory”?
S+L: oh yeah..blaze of glory. big one too. there’s just so many cam.
C: the track “always” with the video featuring an artist. do you dream YOU were in that video?.
S+L: we are not that lame in that we dream about him every day. but if you are asking us if we would hook up with him, YES.
C: what does “hook up” mean?
C: also, are their senior citizens at the concert?.
S+L: screw you – no, it is a wide range in age yes, but not that bad.
C: ok, just a couple of more hard hitting questions..
C: is “jon bon” a great guy? meaning, do you think he cares about his fans???????.
C: do you like Aerosmith?
S+L: i used to but they havent really done anything new.
C: Steven Tyler is no “jon bon”. he’s far from “easy on the eyes”.
C: final question: is there a lot of yelping and squealing at the concert? is it very shrill?… and are people throwing items on-stage? teddy bears, flowers, “underthings”, etc.
S+L: yes it’s loud and there is screming but not like at a bieber concert…it’s more of the crowd singing along. no one throws anything….it’s not that kind of show.
C: sorry, one more question. are people standing during the concert? or only during certain songs?.
S+L: standing the entire time…there is not sitting at all.
C: people throw things at neil diamond and (i think) barry manilow. just sayin’..
S+L: standing and singing for hours.
C: sounds tiring. ok. this was useful. thank you lorena. thank you stacie..
C: … and by “gross”, you mean “neat”.
C: bye. thanks again!
S+L: lasting thought…they have great music but one of the reasons they have fans stillis because of their shows and the fact that a large portion of the music they play is old stuff and they tour A LOT.
C: i just don’t get why they still play stadiums. they’re in a very small group of bands who do this.i think “jon bon” has aged well and he’s a great guy. that’s my assessment.do you find bono from U2 attractive?.
S+L: bono, not really. jon is HOT. he’s aged really well.
C: his skin looks supple. you know, he used to look a bit like a lion with that hair, right?.
S+L: i know. his best hair days, i think, were back in the always days.
C: i guess lions aren’t ugly per se. i like when they’d all line up and SHAKE their hair..
S+L: ha ha.
C: oh, one other thing why people like him… he smiles on-stage. it looks like he’s having fun up there..
S+L: and he KNOWS how to work the camera.
C: he flashes the ladies in the front row those “pearly whites” and they’re like putty in his hands.
S+L: he knows when he’s getting filmed for a close up for the big screen and works a smile and his eyes. also, he seems genuine and authentic.
C: he knows what angles work best for him. stamos is pretty cool too, no?.
S+L: not like he is trying to be younger or “cool”, he likes the music he does and isnt trying to be something he isnt. stamos is good looking yet, but i dont see him as a musician.
C: all their songs from 1995 onwards. i don’t like those really cheesy backing vocals. the ones that go “whooaw, whooaw… whooaw, whooaw”. it almost sounds auto-tune-y. stamos rocked the bongos for the beach boys… so there’s that.
S+L: dont get me wrong, i love uncle jesse, but not on the same level.
C: you “love” him but you’re not “in love” with him. who would win a fist fight…. jon bon or uncle jesse?.
S+L: im not 12 cam, im not in love with either of them although given the choice, i pick jon over stamos.
C: you just said you love uncle jesse. it’s documented. maybe you love him like a friend?
S+L: lol. you know what i mean! its not like a bieber fever thing.
C: in a way.
S+L: i love the bon jovi band, not just jon.
C: do you admire richie samborra for overcoming his substance abuse issues?
S+L: i want him to do well, yes.
C: he should keep his mouth shut and knock it off with those backing vocals. does jon bon jump around on stage? does he highkick a la david lee roth circa 1981?.
S+L: he moves on the stage and gets into it but not over the top no.
C: a lot of holding his arms out, i bet… like he’s gonna hug the crowd, right?.
S+L: i dont enjoy the mocking tone here cam.
C: hey, it’s a solid move. he knows what his audience wants and he delivers. i’m being dead serious. it’s refreshing to have somebody on-stage smiling..
S+L: have you ever seen jbj in concert? if you did, you would get why they are still around.
C: i haven’t but i did see the beach boys featuring john stamos at yankee stadium after a baseball game circa 1989. this was the steve sax era..
S+L: we have 7th row tickets, we’ll take pics and share them with you .
C: nice. ok, i think i’m convinced. the “not trying to be cool” part reasonates. this makes a bit more sense..
S+L: its authentic that is sooooo rare nowadays.
C: most musicians are pretty dull. agreed.they’re either dull or jerks or massive blowhards. jbj does seems like a legit nice guy. very stamos-esque and doesn’t have a big attitude problem..
S+L: he also does great charity work.
C: it’s like he said in the tune “I’ll be there for you”… “when you get drunk / i’ll be the wine”. actually, that doesn’t apply.
S+L: ha ha.
C: ok, i have to go. thanks for this. enjoy the show. bring projectiles. manilow it up!.
S+L: thanks. we will definitely send you a review.
C: please do. buh-bye!