Bon Jovi has certainly shown some longevity, which is hard to do in the music industry. When Bon Jovi tours, the band plays to stadiums and arenas. They still release albums fairly frequently (for an older band). And now and again you’ll read about Jon Bon Jovi and his philanthropic endeavors. What you hear less and less about is their music.
Being an older artist in music is a lot like being a NFL quarterback. There have been growing pains. Chances to prove themselves. Growth over time. Unless there was no growth, then there’s an end to the career.
A failed NFL quarterback might go to the smaller Canadian Football or Arena Football Leagues. Had Bon Jovi never went multi-platinum, they might still be playing clubs with one version of the band or another.
So you have to give a TON of credit to Bon Jovi. They still sell tickets to shows. Attempts at new music may not be best sellers, but new songs are out there.
WAIT! New songs? Yes, Bon Jovi has recently released a new studio album – This House is Not for Sale. Oh, and a new live album – This House is Not for Sale – Live at the Palladium. The latter is pretty much a live version of the new album but with no surprises. It’s made exclusively for the diehards.
The previous album was the apparently cobbled together Burning Bridges. That’s a bunch of new, unreleased and unfinished songs. Pretty lazy effort (if you ask me).
The studio release before that was What About Now. A single called “This is Our House” was available in 2011. Notice the “house” theme. C’mon, Jon! You can do better.
Sandwiched in between was the pleasant surprise Inside Out, a compilation of live performances recorded at O2, MetLife Stadium and Madison Square Garden. Unlike a Kiss or Motley Crue live compilation, it integrates the better songs from both classic and current eras of the band. Bon Jovi sounds spirited – not just going through the numbers. Longtime guitarist Richie Sambora is in the Inside Out line-up, although soon after he would depart.
Very few songs on the last handful of studio Bon Jovi albums sound like they have any life. It’s all pleasant material. Just like a Volvo is a pleasant car. Safe, too. But that’s just it! It’s all just a bunch of safe, by-the-numbers rock songs with no bite. Adult Contemporary Bon Jovi. Easy listening tunes for the dentist’s office.
Whether in sports or music, a long career is hard to sustain. If Jon Bon Jovi is the quarterback (and he is), he lost his star receiver in Richie Sambora a few years ago. The truth is – it can’t last forever. Most rock bands slowly transform to greatest hits acts. Quite honestly, that’s what most fans care about when buying a concert ticket.
High quality new music is dying. In fact, for many older artists – it’s dead. Bruce Springsteen is one of the few musicians that come to mind that can release a collection of worthy new tracks. Or change up a live show to make it fresh.
What’s next for a band like Bon Jovi? Probably another string of stadium shows. Another compilation of hits or live tracks. Maybe even a new album in a few years.
Can an old music dog learn a few new tricks? Actually – yes. There are always options to work with other songwriters (which the band does with John Shanks). Maybe even a reunion with Sambora. But until Bon Jovi takes the next step – we’ll never know.