Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bon Jovi

  • Slippery When Wet [Mercury, 1986] B-
  • New Jersey [Mercury, 1988] C+
  • Have a Nice Day [Island, 2005] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Slippery When Wet [Mercury, 1986]
Sure seven million teenagers can be wrong, but their assent is not without a certain documentary satisfaction. Yes, it proves that youth rebellion is toothless enough to simulate and market. But who the hell thought youth was dangerous in the current vacuum? Would you have preferred the band market patriotism? And are you really immune to "Livin' on a Prayer"? B-

New Jersey [Mercury, 1988]
I see three ways to take the transparently pseudo Springsteenian sincerity of Jon's bid to improve his artistic reputation and his platinum multiple at the same time. You could lie back and enjoy its giant hooks, identifying with the masses all the while. You could cheer its de facto deconstruction of rock "authenticity." Or you could blow lunch. As someone who learned to love "Livin' on a Prayer" in heavy rotation at a swimming pool, I reserve the right to choose option one upon suitable stimulus from somebody else's radio. Now pass the bucket. C+

Have a Nice Day [Island, 2005]
Bon Jovi mean so little long or short term that it was only with this redolently entitled cheese bomb that I realized they hadn't actually broken up back in the fabled '90s. (Really--I took all their '00s albums for reunion one-shots, and couldn't figure out why the product kept coming in the three seconds I thought about it.) The commercial secret is as unchanging as Jon-Jon's mysteriously unwrinkled countenance--hard rock so inoffensive it's less Aerosmith than Air Supply. Not only is it impossible to tell whether the one called "Bells of Freedom" is pro- or anti-Bush, it's impossible to tell whether it's patriotic. A depressing argument for the existence of that intellectual fairy tale, the passive mass audience. C+