Today (March 2) is Jon Bon Jovi's 60th birthday! The Jersey-born rocker has been offering us some killer hits since the 1980s, and his important legacy in rock 'n' roll history cannot be disputed.
An apparent blood relative of Frank Sinatra, Jon Bon Jovi was born in Perth Amboy, NJ in 1962. After being a part of several musical groups in his teens and writing radio jingles, Jon teamed up with David Bryan, Alec John Such, Tico Torres, and Richie Sambora to form the band Bon Jovi in March 1983.
They released their first two albums in 1984 and 1985, and Jon's own song "Runaway" managed to crack the Top 40. In 1986, the band finally achieved widespread success and global recognition with their third album, Slippery When Wet. The rest is history!
We hope you'll "hold on to what we've got" below and see our Top 10 ranking of Bon Jovi songs! Without further ado, here are our picks.
10. "Have a Nice Day"
This song proved Bon Jovi could adapt to the musical trends of the early 2000s with flying colors. We feel "Have a Nice Day" is a song in Bon Jovi's catalogue that's often forgotten about...which is odd, considering it's got a phenomenal guitar riff, a great vocal performance from Jon, and a really catchy chorus.
It's last on our list because the chorus isn't quite as catchy as another early 2000s Bon Jovi bop, nor does this track capture the sweet, messy 80s sound that made Bon Jovi so popular. But if you lived in 2008, you definitely have memories of this cool number blasting on the radio or playing during your favorite TV show. And for purely nostalgic purposes, we have to give credit where credit is due.
9. "In and Out of Love"
No other rock song makes you want to go on a wild beach trip with the boys more than this one. The heated "In and Out of Love" comes off Bon Jovi's second album 7800° Fahrenheit. From its echoey, chanting opening to the whirling guitar melody, this song is a rockin' good time for anyone who dares to listen. It's young Bon Jovi: rowdy, ambitious, and a little girl crazy.
For those who live in New Jersey (particularly in Central or South Jersey), "In and Out of Love" probably holds an extra special place in your heart. This is because Bon Jovi chose to shoot the music video for the song in Seaside Heights. Y'know, that same Boardwalk where Jersey Shore takes place?
In the video, Bon Jovi performs and interacts with people on the beach, outside the restaurant Steaks Unlimited, near the clothing store Sand Tropez, and by the arcade Lucky Leos. All of those locations - including the stage where Bon Jovi performs the song in front of a wild crowd - are still standing today!
8. "I'll Be There For You"
Co-written and co-sung by Bon Jovi and Sambora, this gorgeous power ballad from New Jersey quickly became a smash hit due to the public's love for hard rock at the time.
“I’ll Be There for You” managed to top the Billboard Hot 100 - their last song to do so. It also offered fans a taste of the band's future musical direction. With some added glam metal elements and that beautiful opening guitar riff, this romantic-yet-gritty song will always be a trademark of Bon Jovi's. It also proves Bon Jovi can nail the slow songs just as well as the fast ones.
The song that started it all for Jon Bon Jovi's career. Jon wrote the track way before he started the band Bon Jovi, but the track was re-recorded and properly released in 1984 for the band's self-titled debut.
"Runaway" was produced by Lance Quinn & Tony Bongiovi, and is about a lonely girl looking for something more in life. "Runaway" became the band’s first-ever single and their first song to ever hit the Top 40 in the U.S. Though Bon Jovi rarely play material from their first album now, this is one of the few songs that has stood the test of time and continues to be included in their current live sets. We believe it will always be a fan favorite.
6. "It's My Life"
This ain't a song for the broken-hearted! The iconic music video for this song recently joined the Billion Views Club on YouTube in June 2021. It's also Bon Jovi's most-viewed YouTube video.
There's so much to love about "It's My Life." The tough and cathartic chorus. The opening vocoded vocals and memorable keyboard riff. Even Jon's soaring vocals that make catchy lyrics even catchier. "It's My Life" is a live show staple for a reason: it manages to pump up any crowd.
Despite only peaking at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100, this lead single from Crush reached the top 10 in several markets, topping the charts in eight European countries. It also popularized the phrase “it’s my life”, as Jon Bon Jovi would later state, "I thought I was writing very self-indulgently about my own life and where I was in it. I didn’t realize that the phrase ‘It’s My Life’ would be taken as being about everyone – by teenagers, by older guys, mechanics, whatever. ‘It’s my life, and I’m taking control.’ Everyone kind of feels that way from time to time."
5. "Bed of Roses"
From 1993's Keep the Faith, "Bed of Roses" takes the middle of our list. More intimate than some of the band’s other work, this hit climbed to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not bad for a slower song from the band.
This bittersweet song produced by Bob Rock is about a rockstar character who's plagued by vodka, music business, and other false pleasures. He's longing to go back to his one true love and lay her down on a "bed of roses," for he sleeps on a "bed of nails." Written while Jon Bon Jovi was pushing through a hangover, this power ballad has a dreamy melody that’s easy to get lost in. We also love its lengthy guitar riffs, soft piano additions, and Jon's smooth-as-butter vocals.
4. "Bad Medicine"
An undisputed classic! "Bad Medicine" is Bon Jovi during the peak of their music career. Sure, perhaps the song's concept is a bit cliché (our favorite modern equivalents are Britney Spears' "Toxic" and BROCKHAMPTON's "Poison"), but it's Bon Jovi's electric delivery of the lyrics that makes this track a rock standard.
Another hit from 1988's New Jersey, "Bad Medicine" managed to claim the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s fast-paced, driven by David Bryan’s keyboards, and embellished with Sambora’s rockin’ guitar. Add in Bon Jovi’s tough vocals, and you've got a fun song that's just what we need.
3. "You Give Love a Bad Name"
The band’s first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper! "You Give Love a Bad Name" is a breakup song with a twist. Instead of being mushy and regretful, it's got an added rock edge that gives the tune a pleasant sharpness.
Songwriter Desmond Child had written the song “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” for Bonnie Tyler, but was unsatisfied with its chart performance. He made the decision to bring his music to Bon Jovi and they rewrote the song as “You Give Love A Bad Name.” It was released as the first single from Slippery When Wet and became a Top 30 hit in several countries overseas. VH1 also named “You Give Love A Bad Name” the 20th greatest hard rock song of all time back in 2009.
2. "Wanted Dead or Alive"
This song has such a unique personality, yet still manages to have that classic Bon Jovi hard rock sound. Because of that, we knew we had to rank it high on our list.
A western and rock 'n' roll crossover, "Wanted Dead or Alive" paints Jon Bon Jovi as a bad cowboy riding a steel horse. It's a metaphor for the wild rockstar lifestyle. According to Genius, Bon Jovi stated it was extremely easy to write the lyrics because every one of them is based upon their actual experiences as a band. The song's title was also considered for the album's name. It led to a photo that, instead of the record's cover, was used for the single's instead.
“Wanted Dead or Alive” is the third single off Slippery When Wet. Thanks to the song's gorgeous guitar riffs and Jon's unrestrained vocals, the song peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making the album the first glam metal project to have three singles on the Top 10 of the chart. The other two were “You Give Love a Bad Name” and our #1 pick...
1. "Livin' on a Prayer"
It's hard to find a Bon Jovi song more well-known or beloved as this one! "Livin' On a Prayer" is both a critical and commercial success, topping the Hot Mainstream Rock Charts in the mid-80s and becoming Bon Jovi’s second straight Billboard Hot 100 #1 on Slippery When Wet. It's their signature classic, and you can't play this song at a party or event without a bunch of people singing along to the chorus.
Thanks to its hard rock and glam metal sonic combination, trademark talk-box, and heartfelt lyrics about "Tommy and Gina’s" blue-collar love, “Livin’ on a Prayer” found a home on MTV, earned international success, and is now a triple platinum-certified song. It even unexpectedly made its way back to the charts in 2013 after a 2009 video of Boston Celtics basketball fan Jeremy Fry dancing to the rock anthem surfaced. With 11 million views, the video propelled the 1987 classic back onto the chart - proving its endurance as a classic!
We love "Livin' On a Prayer" because it's a poignant rock bop about not giving up when times seem tough. Jon Bon Jovi stated the song is, "working class and it’s real...I wanted to incorporate the movie element, and tell a story about people I knew. So instead of doing what I did on ‘Runaway’, where the girl didn’t have a name, I gave them names, which gave them an identity...Tommy and Gina aren’t two specific people; they represent a lifestyle."
Happy Birthday Jon Bon Jovi, and thanks for creating music that makes us never want to give up on our dreams! All we've got to do is hold on to what we've got.
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Article Image: Jon Bon Jovi - frontman of Bon Jovi - playing guitar and singing into a microphone during a 2015 concert. (ChinaImages via DepositPhotos.)