Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

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+