Saturday, May 18, 2024

Living Proof brings back the talkbox: Bon Jovi's new single out now!

Screenshot from Bon Jovi's Living Proof lyric video.

 "Living Proof", the second single from Bon Jovi's upcoming album Forever, dropped on Friday.

My verdict? This song is pure flipping joy and I will be taking no questions at this time. (Just kidding. Questions are always welcome, as are comments and messages, even if you disagree with me.)

Here's the official lyric video:

The talkbox sounds sooooo damn good and it's nice to hear Phil X actually getting to do something interesting. It doesn't happen nearly enough, and that's probably my biggest gripe with "new Bon Jovi" -- because I do still rate Jon as a songwriter, but Phil's talents have been seriously wasted over the last decade. Especially in the studio. John Shanks, for whatever reason, has a massive hold and influence on Jon (and I acknowledge he co-wrote "Living Proof") but the dude is already producing everything... so he can take a back seat on the guitar and let Phil cut loose like the rock star we know he can be. Just sayin'.

Sound-wise, "Living Proof" is reminiscent of parts of the Have a Nice Day and Bounce albums, plus "This Is Love, This Is Life" (which deserved a little more than being a throwaway track on the deluxe edition of the Greatest Hits). 

"Living Proof" doesn't break any new ground but I don't need it to, nor do I think anyone has ever considered Bon Jovi the world's most original band. I just dig the song. It pumps me up, it makes me happy.

What do you think of "Living Proof"? Good, bad, meh? Let me know!

PS. Richie stans, I haven't forgotten about his new songs. I'm just super busy with work, plus I wanted to talk about all four together since the cover art and press release suggested they're meant to be part of a set. I'll post after I'm finished with a conference this week.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Sunday, May 5, 2024

Thank You, Goodnight: a Bon Jovi fan's reflections

Promotional picture for Thank You Goodnight: The Bon Jovi story.

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story
dropped a little over a week ago -- it was waiting for me on Disney+ in Australia when I got home on a Friday night. 

Now, I didn't try to rush out and be the first to write about it because:

a) "breaking news" isn't my vision for the blog -- and there are plenty of other fans, podcasters, etc. covering that ground;

b) I didn't want to just binge all four episodes right away at the expense of being able to process what I was watching;

c) I do have other things in my life, including needing to be awake and alert for Saturday morning commitments, instead of being tired and distracted by thoughts of Bon Jovi.

So I watched it over a few days, chatted to some people about it, and then came back here.

What do I think?

Honestly, I love it. Is it perfect? No, but it was enough for me. Is it very Jon-centric? Sure, but the elephant of the decade (Jon's voice) was a key factor in Bon Jovi's success during their prime, and is integral to any future they may have.

At times it was quite heartbreaking to see his struggles with his voice laid bare. I mean, we've all heard it. I've blogged about it. Other fans have talked about it. News articles were written about it on that rough 2022 tour. But we also saw him being aware of it and trying to do something. We saw the other guys on stage trying to pull him through and support him.

As for Richie Sambora... well, I'm really glad he's in the documentary. I think he still has a massive chip on his shoulder, but I also completely understand him feeling pushed aside by John Shanks during the What About Now sessions. An album which, given what transpired afterwards, I don't think I've listened to since 2013.

Speaking of which, Shanks comes across kind of badly in his interview -- his little smirk and chuckle about being the guy between Jon and Richie made me uncomfortable. It could've just been nervous laughter, of course. I giggle when I'm nervous, and since I don't know Shanks at all, I can't possibly say he had any malicious intent. But yeah, it just didn't look that great.

There are plenty of fans who simp for Jon or Richie, think the other is the devil, and had already made up their minds long before this documentary aired. Nothing about it would've changed their thinking. But most of the criticisms levelled at one man could easily apply to the other. They both have rock star egos, they both twist or embellish details to make themselves look better, they're both stubborn AF. Like seriously, bros, you were both in your goddamn 50s when all this went down... be better!

But I'd love to see Richie back in the band, Phil X as the "other guitarist" and Shanks just... not? I don't hate the guy. I mean, he came on board to produce Have a Nice Day, an album that probably saved my life when I was a teenager. But it seems weird for him to have had this much influence over the band -- and particularly Jon -- for such a long period of time.

Speaking of guitarists, Bobby Bandiera should've been interviewed. He was around for almost a decade, from the Have a Nice Day tour until the end of Because We Can tour... and I think he'd have had some interesting things to say about that time, if he was willing to share.

Before anyone else brings it up, long-time manager Paul Korzilius wrongly claimed the 1995 "Live in London" shows were the last shows at Wembley Stadium, but I'm very confident he just misremembered, and there was no deliberate lie there. (Probs could've been fact-checked in post-production though.)

Super cool to hear a decent sounding recording of "Cadillac Man" from the archives. Here's a performance of this underrated song, from Osaka in 1991 -- how freaking good:

So yes... in summary, I enjoyed the documentary. Wouldn't have hurt to hear a little more from the rest of the band, past and present (though Alec John Such passed away before he could be interviewed). And it might have been a bit tighter with less previous footage woven in (e.g. from Access All Areas and When We Were Beautiful). But all in all, it was worth watching. For me, at least.

I know there are a lot of folks for whom Bon Jovi ended when Richie left, or when they "went country", or "got too commercial" or whatever.

There's an Australian band that I used to absolutely love, and a big part of that was their long-term lineup (which wasn't the original lineup, but the one I got to know on tour over about 10 years). Now that lineup is no more and I find myself just not being able to get excited about them, not going to their live shows anymore, etc. There were many times I thought that could be happening with me and Bon Jovi, but... no, not yet anyway. They're my band. They're still my band. Even as they are now, not quite where I want them to be. I guess that's the realisation I got from Thank You, Goodnight. The heart and dagger tattoo on my back is forever -- literally, but also figuratively.

Have you watched Thank You, Goodnight yet? What do you think?

PS. I have not forgotten about Richie's new music. It's cool that he (or his new marketing/PR person?) realised that there's a lot of renewed interest in him thanks to the documentary, and he should totally take advantage of it. I'll make a separate post for the new tunes.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Sunday, March 17, 2024

Unexpectedly emotional - Legendary and Thank You, Goodnight premieres

Bon Jovi dropped a new single, "Legendary" on March 14 and... it was unexpectedly emotional for me. The song isn't going to change the world, but I didn't know if we'd ever hear new Bon Jovi music again, given Jon's vocal situation and jadedness with everything. So seeing the joy on his face just made me smile. And I like the song, although a ripping guitar solo would've Phil'd the track out more. (See what I did there? Your girl's got dad jokes.)

Bon Jovi's new album, Forever, will be out on June 7. Hugh McDonald's wife Kelli posted a big tease back in January saying she'd heard the album and it was awesome so... fingers crossed. I mean, obviously she's not gonna say it's terrible, but she also didn't need to say anything at all.

The full official trailer for Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story has also been released. Interesting to hear Richie Sambora say he regrets the way he left the band, though not the actual leaving:

Thank You, Goodnight had its first screening at the SXSW in Austin on March 14. The rest of us will have to wait until April 26 when it drops on Hulu, Disney+ or Star+ (depending on where you are in the world)... but here are some of the SXSW red carpet interviews and the Q&A with the band members and filmmakers:

The video above features red carpet interviews with producer Alex Trudeau Viriato and director Gotham Chopra, as well as Jon Bon Jovi, Phil X, Everett Bradley, Hugh McDonald, Tico Torres (in order of appearance). The Q&A was moderated by Deepak Chopra and features the remaining founding members of Bon Jovi (Jon, Tico, and David Bryan) and Gotham Chopra.

I'm pretty keen for the documentary; it looks like it'll be gritty enough to be worth our while, but obviously I'll have to wait and see!

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Life begins at 40: the second coming of Bon Jovi?

Okay, that title sounds a bit dramatic -- but it is the 40th anniversary of Bon Jovi's self-titled debut album this year. And things are happening! 

Bon Jovi's self-titled debut album.

First up, Jon Bon Jovi was honoured as the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year. The benefit gala was a ticketed event that wasn't streamed, but credit to Brian Baumwoll who took some videos on his phone so we could catch a glimpse -- and a listen.

Here's Bon Jovi performing "Legendary" (the expected lead single from their upcoming album), before Bruce Springsteen joins them for "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and "The Promised Land" (the latter being from Bruce's Darkness on the Edge of Town album). Jon sounds decent in his first live performance in two years, and looks in good spirits -- and seeing him pull out the harmonica is such a vibe! 😀

Richie Sambora was rumoured to make an appearance at the MusiCares event, but he didn't show. (Orianthi did, performing with Sammy Hagar.) People Magazine reports that needing to care for his mother after a fall was the reason Richie didn't make an appearance, but given the apparent frostiness between him and Jon in the last decade, it's possible he wasn't planning to attend anyway. Then again, Richie keeps alluding to a possible reunion so who knows?

Jon also addressed his vocal issues during a Pollstar Live! Q&A with music executive Rob Light (who also happens to be the father of Jesse Bongiovi's fiancee, Jesse Light). Here's what Jon had to say about getting reconstructive surgery on his vocal cords:

More info is set to be revealed in the upcoming documentary series Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, which will premiere on Hulu in the US on April 26 and Disney+ internationally.

Here's the teaser trailer for Thank You, Goodnight:

The band minus Jon also talked about the docuseries on the MusiCares red carpet, with David Bryan doing most of the talking, plus a bit from Tico Torres. Apparently all past and present members of the band took part in the doco, so hopefully it will be an interesting watch.

Until then, Backstage with Bon Jovi is a virtual exhibition of various band-related artefacts from the past 40 years, available now to explore on their website.

You can also download or stream a deluxe anniversary edition of Bon Jovi, the album that started it all.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Christmas Isn't Christmas music video out now

Behind-the-scenes photo of the shooting of the Christmas Isn't Christmas video. Bon Jovi is sitting on a stool surrounded by bar patrons and Christmas decorations.
Behind the scenes shot of Christmas Isn't Christmas video.
Photo: Bon Jovi/Facebook.

 Bon Jovi's first original holiday song in three decades dropped last month, and now the official music video for "Christmas Isn't Christmas" has been released!

It's enough to warm even my Grinchy heart, lol. Check it out:

The video features everyone in the current lineup at a bar decked out in Christmas lights. (I think it's Santa's Pub in Nashville, someone correct me if I'm wrong.) There is a bit of a visual hierarchy in a place -- Jon singing on his own; the old-timers in David Bryan, Tico Torres and Hugh McDonald having a drink together; then the relative newbies, Phil X, playing guitar and having a laugh with Everett Bradley and John Shanks. 

Bon Jovi band posing at Santa's Pub with a man in a long grey/white beard.
Santa and the band at Santa's Pub.
Photo: Bon Jovi/Facebook.

Interspersed with all of that are various people singing karaoke, enjoying festivities with loved ones or drowning their sorrows alone. Pretty decent reflection of Christmas if I do say so myself -- it's a great time for some, and depressing AF for others. 

I really like the song and the video (though it's summer at Christmastime where I live). What do you think?

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Saturday, November 18, 2023

New Bon Jovi music! Christmas Isn't Christmas + other holiday gifts

I officially came out of hibernation on my socials this week to fangirl over the fact that Bon Jovi was releasing an original Christmas song for the first time since "I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas" back in 1992.

"Christmas Isn't Christmas" dropped this week (17 November) and I may or may not have snuck away from my work to listen to it for the first time. (It's only three-and-a-half minutes, calm down.)

Check out the lyric video: 

I'm not really the festive type, but I quite like this song and it feels right for Bon Jovi at this point in their career. Definitely beats Jon sanitising "Fairytale of New York" to stay on brand. 😉

Here's Jon talking about writing the song as a gift to his parents and kids when they couldn't all be together for the holidays:

What do you think of the track? You can download or stream "Christmas Isn't Christmas" right now. 😊

I'm also not really into board games or tabletop games, because I'm just no fun like that, lol. But if that's something you do with your family and friends, you can now add Bon Jovi's 40th anniversary Monopoly to your stack.

Here's Jon playing it with David Bryan, Phil X and John Shanks:

If you're keen, you can order your Bon Jovi Monopoly set from the online store.

In other news, Jon Bon Jovi was announced last month as the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year. He'll be honoured at a benefit gala during Grammys week, with proceeds going towards health and human services for music professionals.

Jon spoke about the honour:

And Sir Paul McCartney congratulated him, which is pretty rad because... well, it's Paul McCartney:

Anyway, I'm off to calm my inner Grinch and add "Christmas Isn't Christmas" to my holiday playlist -- along with with the original "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues, and of course, "How to Make Gravy" by Paul Kelly (because I'm Australian).

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Richie Sambora is Jack. Jacket Potato.

I've been known to enjoy a bit of The Masked Singer. Obviously the show is demonstrably bonkers. But I do tend to watch the Australian version of it when I'm not busy, and have caught the occasional snippet from the US series. 

I've never seen the British series though. But I'd seen enough "Richie is Jacket Potato!!" comments online in the last few weeks to know that there was a good chance I'd be watching at least some of it soon.

And so it was that old mate Richie Sambora was indeed revealed to be the person in the Jacket Potato costume on yesterday's episode of The Masked Singer UK.

Before being eliminated, he performed:

You can definitely hear his voice so I'm not surprised Richie and Bon Jovi fans were on it. 😉

You can watch Richie's full journey, including the judging panel's guesses, below:

After his unmasking, Richie talked about his experience on the show:

Also, I've been pretty quiet but I'm definitely still alive and kicking, just working on other things, y'know?

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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