Bon Jovi ‘Bounces’ back again

By Ryan Mulloy
October 3, 2002

Paul Williams

Bon Jovi is releasing a new CD as a follow-up to the multi-platinum “Crush,” released in 2000. The new CD, “Bounce,” is being released on Oct. 8. Isn’t there a problem with a 1980s hair band like Bon Jovi releasing a CD in the 2000s? Absolutely not.

In the wake of Sept. 11, many musicians have stepped up on their soapbox in support of America. One of Jon Bon Jovi’s idols, Bruce Springsteen, recently released “The Rising,” a CD almost entirely dedicated to the tragedy of Sept. 11. Trying to not be like Springsteen, who Bon Jovi modeled himself after throughout his early career, the new Bon Jovi CD touches on the events of Sept. 11, but at times steers away from the issues to provide listeners will an all around good time.

The CD opens with a Sept. 11 inspired song, “Undivided.” The song is supposed to be patriotic and hits its mark. The chorus contains lyrics including “While we were once divided/Now we stand united/We stand as one/Undivided.” The song is a standard Bon Jovi opener that gets the listener into the CD as a whole and makes it hard to turn the CD player.

The first single, which has been played on the radio since late summer, is another fast track called “Everyday.” Like “Crush’s” “It’s My Life,” the song represents living your life according to your own plan. The song is somewhat short, however, and could stand to have another verse in it.

The CD keeps its hard edge with “The Distance,” a song that encourages listeners to go the distance, so to speak, by never giving up their fight. The overall theme of the song goes hand in hand with Sept. 11 in an attempt to tell people to keep fighting and finding the good in life. One of the memorable lyrics that illustrates the theme perfectly says, “Close your eyes/See my blue skies breaking through these dark clouds.”

The CD takes a break from the harder edge with “Joey,” a lighter song that seems sound like something Elton John would have done. The song is reminiscent of John’s “Levon,” which Jon covered in a tribute to John in the 90s. The song is easy to listen to, but comes off somewhat silly, talking about a character named Joey Keyes and what he goes through growing up.

The CD continues to die down with “Misunderstood,” a song that never really picks up the pace of the CD as a whole. When the “Everyday” single CD was released, there were six b-sides and any one of them could have easily taken the place of this weak track.

After years of being recognized for their ballads like “Always” and “I’ll Be There For You,” Bon Jovi fills up CD gaps with some strong ballads. “All About Loving You” seems to slow though, like it belongs on their less than successful 1996 release, “These Days.” The track does not really fit on the CD and would be better served as a b-side.

The album picks up the pace with “Hook Me Up,” a song based on the story of a boy caught in between the war between the Palestinians and Israelis, which Bon Jovi read in a newspaper. The guitar for this song is much harder and brings the rating for the CD up. For any fan of the band, the anticipation to hear it live is overwhelming.

While the next song has somewhat of a silly name, that is more or less commonplace for the band that released songs like “You Give Love A Bad Name” or “Born To Be My Baby.” The song, “Right Side of Wrong,” is about modern day cowboys, a man and a woman, robbing a bank and trying to make their way across the border. This power ballad is the real kind of ballad Bon Jovi is known for. The major victory in this song is the fact that they use “wrong side of right” and “right side of wrong” without sounding stupid.

Another quirky title that still works is “Love Me Back To Life.” It is no secret that this title is silly, but once you look past it and listen to the lyrics, it is not hard to determine that this song is a winner and should be released as a their power ballad single.

After such an amazing track, the CD slows down even more, with a ballad based on a line from “Jerry Maguire,” “You Had Me From Hello.” While the song is incredibly slow, it fits on this CD. The song serves as a balance for the harder sounds on previous track and its following track.

The title track, “Bounce,” is the party track of the CD that represents the thoughts that most angry Americans had on Sept. 11. “I play hard/I play to win/Call me out/Count me in/I’ll be bouncin’ back again” is just an example of the American attitude to come back better than ever.

The CD closes with a song Jon based on his work on the last season of “Ally McBeal.” Unlike “One Wild Night,” which closed “Crush,” this song works off of “Bounce” to finish the CD with a good note.

While Bon Jovi’s popularity is not where it was in the late 80s and early 90s, the CD is still a winner and deserves credit for its lyrics and music, coming off of the heels of the successful “Crush.”

Though the CD still has some weak tracks, they may grow on the listener over time, though some could have been avoided with the use of some of the b-sides or demos. The CD will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

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Ryan Mulloy

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