Bon Jovi releases flavorless “2020”

Genuine but lacking innovation, Bon Jovi recounts a tragic year.

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Courtesy of Consequence of Sound

Emily Coffey, Staff Writer

Bon Jovi released “2020” on Oct. 2, the rock band’s first album since 2018’s “This House is Not For Sale.” The lyrics, at best, are simple and to the point, and the musicality has been stripped of most of the classic elements that made Bon Jovi so popular in the ‘80s. 

THE SAME SOUND

“2020” lacks the dynamic, synth-packed and appetitive approach that made “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” so great during their time. Instead of keeping their original approach, Bon Jovi is toning down their unique sound to blend in, instead of revolutionizing the industry. 

The first track on the album is a prime example of this. The guitar is clean and simple, the beat square. The vocals are disappointingly spotless—missing the original brazen approach. It misses the “oomph” they so excellently applied at the beginning of their career. 

Equally disheartening is “Do What You Can” with Jennifer Nettles. Though it provides commentary on the current circumstances and features some country elements, a banjo and fiddle, it fails to distinguish itself from most country hits, landing it on a country station somewhere in Kentucky, probably. The chorus is surprisingly catchy, but lacks depth and addresses current difficulties without a varying or valuable perspective. 

In some ways, nothing about Bon Jovi’s approach has changed. They have always been storytellers, focused on a current sound and addressing their audiences with an endearing straightforwardness. The most recent release objectively displays this, using safe production techniques rather than the edge Bon Jovi originally wielded. 

LESS THAN LIVELY LYRICS

Story of Love” is a surprisingly tender story about fatherhood and childhood, leaving the audience with a good view of what it means for the members of Bon Jovi to find themselves in parenthood. An emotional guitar riff supplemented by an overused orchestral interlude finds itself in a long section in the middle of the song. 

This melancholy, emotional temperature keeps throughout the lyrics, reckoning, as all audiences are, with the disaster of “2020.” An actual lyric in “Do What You Can” is: 

“Although I’ll keep my social distance/ What this world needs is a hug.” 

It is either an American anthem or a cliché attempt at fitting in. The album’s savior lies in “Brothers In Arms,” which draws from the blues scenes and then surfaces at the climax of the song. The lyrics hardly reach poetry, but at least question reality, instead of simply recounting it.  

There’s no 7th day in a world without pity/ There’s no ball and chain but the change didn’t come/ Where’s my better days? Where’s my Jesus saves?” Jon Bon Jovi sings in the third verse. 

The remaining message gives account to the tragedy America has seen during this year. They sing of the service of Veterans, the COVID-19 crisis and fatherhood. Even if it lacks depth or skill, the lyrics shine with genuine quality.

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