Bon Jovi: Lost Highway
Bon Jovi - Lost Highway - [Island Records]


Bon Jovi, the band that survived every fashionable hair style in rock music, is releasing a new album. Unfortunately, it's suitable for 15-year old girls in love, or fans of their old stuff that just won't let go.

Bon Jovi were never really true to any musical genre, but more of a chameleon reflecting what is popular. Sure, they have their own style, and you will always know if it's Bon Jovi playing in the background, but still it is mostly guided by what's popular.
Back in the 80's, when the hair metal, or glam, was going strong they presented "Slippery When Wet" and became a prime example with the release. In the 90's, when it was time to be more mature & rock-oriented they released "These Days". When the new millennium came, they stood in a middle of a crossroad, as they couldn't fit in the Latin pop wave that was on, or the bubblegum pop and hip hop was hardly in their reach. So they released "Crush" and their position since was with no noticeable changes.

The reason I mentioned those album in particular is not just to run a history class; "Slippery When Wet" was one of the defining albums in Bon Jovi's career, and was a center pole in the 80's rock (did someone mentioned "Living on a prayer"?). "These Days" was their most 90's-album. While the music industry was crazed for the Seattle grunge, and guitar oriented bands sang about love, life and the world today in a dipper meaning, "These Days" was their angry self-tortured style answer with songs like "Hey god" and "While my guitar lies bleeding in my heart". For me, it's their best album yet. The problem is that since that album Bon Jovi haven't released anything actually worth mentioning.

The year 2000 was the breaking point. Ricky Martin and Britney Spears headlined the music news, so John and his friends found themselves not knowing how to fit in. None of them had boobs to show or the ability to jiggle their lower parts like Jennifer Lopez. This time the answer was "Crush". The catchiest, tackiest album they've released for that time being. You might give them "It's My Life" as a nice track and maybe it's because of the reference of "Tommy and Jenna" struggling through the hard times. Ever since that, the band released three albums, which were probably adored only by their die-hard fans, and the occasional naive 14-year old girl, who buys the album, but actually falls for John. "Lost highway" is the third album since "Crush" and doesn't change a thing, it's sad to say that Bon Jovi haven't released anything good since "These day".

"Lost highway" is the Bon Jovi trademark of this decade; Very kitsch, with American adult country pop (but not really), and melodies that try to balance plastic and true feel. Richie Sambora, who's a fine guitar player, finds his talent unfulfilled, again, as it was in their last 4 albums. All this adds up to 12 tracks of restrained guitar rock and a whole lot of ballades.

A reference I have the urge to make about Bon Jovi's rock ballades: As I see it, they make the perfect analogy for the cute guy in your class finally telling you he loves you. It's always sweet, but when he told it to 50 more girls, it kinda loses the sentiment.

Even so, there's no shortage in teenagers who haven't had the chance to live through the varied Bon Jovi eras. For them, the ballades on this album could still function as the perfect soundtrack for those romantic candle-light moments. They might even be the only audience that would agree eating the same feed Bon jovi has been feeding them for the last 7 years.

Roy Povarchik

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