I, Spoodles, am a Bon Jovi fan.
I know, I know. The shame! However, I remain a fan and this article is about them.
So suck on it long, buddy.
Bon Jovi is the most talented band in the history of the world. And I mean that, sincerely. They are the only band I have ever heard that can successfully, consistently feed the listener an emotion throughout each and every one of their songs. If they want you to jump up and down during a song (such as "It's My Life" or "Living on a Prayer") they can make you do it. If they want you to cry like a little girl (see "Always" or "Bed of Roses"), it's going to happen. Sure, other bands can do it occasionally, but Bon Jovi has it down to an art. The funny thing is, they are completely unsubtle about it in every way. Much like most of the bands that attained fame in a similar era (Aerosmith, for instance), the music beats you over the head until you fall in submission. This, however, is not the real reason they are the most talented band ever to grace the green and blue orb we orbit on.
The reason Bon Jovi has more talent than, say, The Beatles or U2, is because they can write the silliest, stupidest, crappiest, worst, most horrific lyrics in the history of the world, and they can still get away with it and be popular. Take, for instance, the aforementioned "Living on a Prayer." If a progressive rock band, such as Franz Ferdinand or The Killers, came onto the scene today with lyrics such as...
"We've gotta hold on to what we got. It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not..." and "Woah, we're halfway there. Woah, we're living on a prayer."
...They would most certainly not sell any reasonable amount of albums. Despite this fact, Bon Jovi has somehow managed to overcome the odds and release the most hideous lyrics known to man. In the midst of this, they somehow became famous and huge and you all know the story.
Now that their talent is undisputed, we can get into the matter at hand.
Another underrated album. While most people would claim that Bon Jovi is an overrated band, give me the benefit of the doubt in this article. Coming off of what many Bon Jovi fans consider a career high (the album Keep the Faith which included "Bed of Roses," "Keep the Faith," and "In These Arms"), Bon Jovi decided to take a complete U-turn with the direction of their music. Where Keep the Faith was an upbeat album about love and, obviously, faith, These Days, the follow-up to Faith, was an album about heartbreak and losing religion. The song "Something to Believe In," for instance, begins with the lyric "I lost all faith in my god, in my religion too." "These Days" deals with a heartbroken suicide attempt ("Don't you know that all my heroes died?"), and "Hearts Breaking Even" deals with self-mutilation ("When I cut you off, did I cut myself with the same damn knife?"). While this is obviously not enviable behavior, I like to hear vocalists show emotion, to actually bleed what they sing (see also my article on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). This album is full of that kind of stuff.
It's disappointing to me that every time I walk into a used CD store, ten or eleven copies of These Days sit along with one or two copies of assorted "best-of-Bon-Jovi"-type albums. With that said, it's not surprising that these songs didn't get any radio play (seeing as how they are the polar opposite of tripe like "It's My Life" and "Living on a Prayer"). Bon Jovi obviously turned their backs on this style of writing, because the inferior-in-every-way Crush, better known as "that album with "It's My Life" on it," was their next release. 'Tis a shame.
Interesting tidbit: if you've ever seen my "crappy poems and songs" section on my other site, you could probably tell that Bon Jovi was my lyrical influence. Take, for instance, this little marvel. Yep. I've long since stopped writing poetry. Haha.