Friday, April 04, 2008

Why I Don't Like Bon Jovi: The Official Statement

Last weekend at an East Village dive bar, "Living on a Prayer" came on full blast and everyone started belting at the top of their lungs. I sat, politely sulking and sipping my too-sweet fruity concoction and thought why, God, why?

I find myself in this situation all too often. I love fun. I love freedom. I love music. Hell, I even love some conspicuously bad music. But when I tell people I don't like Bon Jovi, they react like I've confessed to being an Osama Bin Laden groupie or something.

Just take a good look at Jon Bon. Some people see An American Icon. I see lame agony.

I fully acknowledge that it's really cliche to use the online space of a blog to rumble about disliking a pop culture phenomena, but bear with me. I'm not merely being a contrarian, I'm just confused about what everyone sees in him that I don't (see also "Titanic," Coke, Scarlet Johansson).

It's not his life, he's not living on a prayer and I'm totally going to pull the Oregon card here and say that he's NOT a cowboy, let alone one riding on a steel horse. And you know, he wasn't wanted dead or alive, now or in 1984. The only thing about Bon Jovi that is timeless is the moral that people will eat up crappy pop music, even if it's from a poser.

But that's the thing. I like pop music and the 80s gave us great jams from U2, Madonna, Tina Turner and Michael effin Jackson - just to name a few. They sold records and became icons, and although we can giggle at their crimped hair and neon-influenced music videos, no one can deny that in addition to being easy on the ears, they were ridiculously talented artists and promoters. What they were singing about resonated with people at a certain time and place.

Let's say that Bon Jovi is a competent musician/performer/songwriter. His whole career still hinges on cheap ploys to capitalize on densely populated, bored America - the stereotypical Jersey trash comes to mind. This is smart on BJ's part because they have money and feel disenfranchised from hip hop and country, but yearn for ballads to drive their Datsun pickups to. Bon Jovi tries to make the Jersey Turnpike feel like a country road. It's not a country road, it's the Jersey Turnpike. He should take a lesson from John Malkovich and embrace it. And then there's that whole issue of his changing his name and denying his Italian roots, but I'm not going to even go there.

And he has a ton of kitch value in the tri-state area, which shocks me. It's not cool to be into Bon Jovi on the West Coast, regardless of the reason. But in the northeast, it's retro to like him because he's sooo 80s. Yeah, I get it frat boy, but thinking that Bon Jovi is "retro" is like claiming that Lynn Spears is sane.

Free speech is great and for that reason, let Bon Jovi crank out his ballads. He gives to charities and probably isn't a bad person on an individual level. But after years of being the minority when it comes to his music, I thought it was past time to make my official Bon Jovi stance clear. I mean, it's an election year after all.

And the next time you're at a bar shouting about how you just wanna live forevah, think of the person in the corner looking bored...and quietly judging you.