Previously one of the most reliably feel-good acts in mainstream rock, New Jersey’s second finest have begun to take themselves a little more seriously since 2003’s Bounce, offering everything from reflections on 9/11 to protests against the Iranian elections whilst also abandoning the big dumb sing-along stadium anthems in favour of MOR country (Lost Highway) and strangely pensive U2-esque rock (The Circle). Bon Jovi‘s 12th studio album, What About Now, continues on a similar social commentary path, and although its intentions are undoubtedly honorable, it’s still hard to swallow talk of economic hardship from someone who only two years ago nearly bought a $150 million stake in the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s a look at five blatant examples where good old JBJ tries to play the everyman.
Harking back to their less-than-authentic recent Nashville-tinged period, “I’m With You attempts” to convince listeners that we’re all in this financial crisis together. Walking up and down the boarded-up small businesses on Main Street, JBJ’s dispiriting conclusion that hope of a recovery is rapidly fading away may ring depressingly true. But although his real-life charitable endeavours prove that he can put his money where his mouth is, the newly-unemployed are unlikely to take much solace in his ‘united we stand’ spiel: [LISTEN]
Look at this world
It’s filled with worn out places
Forgotten faces and nothing changes
Whatever happened to that new day rising
We’re just surviving and living is dying
A fervent supporter of Obama’s re-election campaign, JBJ appears to be staking his claim as a future political heavyweight himself with this cliché-ridden call-to-arms that’s disguised as a rousing Springsteen-esque slice of heartland rock. Imploring the more impoverished section of society to stand up and be counted, his heart might be in the right place but with such a vague and ultimately meaningless array of platitudes, he’d struggle to convince even a fraction of those 100m Bon Jovi fans who apparently can’t be wrong: [LISTEN]
Who´ll stand for the restless?
And the lonely? For the desperate? And the hungry?
Down for the count, I’m hearing you now
For the faithful, the believer
For the faceless and the teacher
Stand up and be proud… What about now?
Perhaps a fantasy version of how he introduced the world to his talents, JBJ ignores his Star Wars Christmas Special beginnings and instead adopts the role of a former punk-rock drummer-turned-war hero who is forced to sell his beloved kit to make ends meet. Harping on about how things were better back in the day, the Tommy Ramone wannabe then tries to rally the teachers and farmers who are in a similar position, but soon drifts into parody by echoing the ‘dey turk err jurbs’ sentiment of a certain Trey Stone and Matt Parker animation: [LISTEN]
They called us dirty Harry, we’re a punk rock band
When it’s sold off CBGB’s I don’t understand
All that’s left now are the t-shirts and the comp’ for a good plan
I sold my drums to make ends meet
The band broke up, we had to eat
On a record pre-occupied with reflecting the voices of the underprivileged, it was perhaps inevitable that the whole ‘life is a battlefield’ cliché would be wheeled out at some point. Yet again placing himself inside the armour of a never-say-die soldier, JBJ talks rather joylessly of a world without fun. But then ironically goes onto deliver a hugely enjoyable, if admittedly brainless, cock-rock anthem which could have been lifted from Slippery When Wet: [LISTEN]
I’ve got a voice
It’s all on me
A beating heart inside of me
I’m an army of one
I’m a soldier
It’s unlikely that Mr Bon Jovi has spent the night in anything other than five-star presidential suite-style luxury since the days when his frizzy mullet was the height of fashion. So it’s difficult to believe he can even remember an era when his home sweet home would have been the kind of ramshackle property an estate agent would describe as ‘ideal for a DIY enthusiast.’ Likewise when he had to get out of bed at an ungodly hour for a dead-end job rather than for an appearance on Good Morning America: [LISTEN]
Every day it’s the same when they say that it might be the end
In the end when it ends I don’t listen to them
You wake up go to work go to sleep then you do it, you do it
If you’re lucky then you do it again
Yeah we walk through a world that we don’t understand