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Bon Jovi - Because We Can (Single Review)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013 Written by Simon Ramsay
Bon Jovi - Because We Can (Single Review)

The first single to be taken from the mega-selling New Jersey veterans forthcoming album won't change anyone's opinion of the band. Seasoned haters will undoubtedly loathe it, but how will their long term fans react? Aside from blindly devoted sycophants, the response to Bon Jovi's post millennial output has been mixed, with many bemoaning a lack of swaggering, guitar driven rock & roll tracks in favour of country infused ditties and U2 influenced anthemics. In contrast, others love the way they've welded their endless optimism to a more contemporary sound, refusing to be a one trick nostalgia act. 'Because We Can' will only intensify that divide as it's easily the most commercial piece of pop candy Bon Jovi have ever written, with it's chirpy chorus and minimal guitar work a world away from the blue collar raunch of 'Bad Medicine'.

ImageWith over 130 million albums sold JBJ and the guys are definitely a musical anomaly. Whilst their contemporaries from the 'Slippery When Wet' days were wiped out as a commercial force by the early nineties Grunge revolution, the Jovi boys battled on. Then, in the face of prevailing trends, the stars aligned and 1994's hugely popular power ballad – 'Always' - sent their popularity stratospheric. Since then they've made sold out stadiums their second home, releasing a steady stream of new material in the process. And so their 12th studio album - 'What About Now' - arrives on March 25th and marks the band's fourth collaboration with producer John Shanks. 'Because We Can' is the first taste of that new record and it's nothing if not an ambivalent listen.

Those hoping for an old school slab of commercially charged rock will be left scratching their heads at best and waving their fists at worst, for this is the purest pop the guys have ever released. Shanks' production sparkles as the tune pivots around a delightfully catchy chorus that's well written and tailor made for concert goers to sing along to when the guys hit the road later this year. It's also hard not to commend them for trying to be the voice of positivity in these cynical, troubled times. Few bands do uplifting feelgood music for the masses like Bon Jovi.

On the flip side, the vivacity of old is badly lacking and the most talented singer and musician in the band – Richie Sambora – continues to recede into the background. Aside from a melodic refrain and a strangely clunky lead lick, the powerhouse behind their best songs is still MIA. Over the last decade there have only been a few tracks per album where Jon lets him off the leash, like he's worried too many guitars will alienate the ballad loving housewives who joined the Jovi bandwagon post 'Always'. But continually underusing his considerable talents is frustrating. After all, you wouldn't go into a war zone in a tank and shoot at the enemy with a water pistol would you? If you have big guns – bloody well use them!

That's not to say they should deliver a ceaseless onslaught of guitar based numbers, as one of their best albums was 1995's 'These Days', a record low on trademark rock aesthetics but full to the brim with musical invention and genuine soul. Therein lies the problem with 'Because We Can; it just feels like Bon Jovi by numbers. It's the sound of a band who have have a formula and are running on auto pilot. The delivery has changed, but the song remains the same. Only this time devoid of tangible passion. Even verses like 'Our love can move a mountain' are cringeworthy without the heart and commitment given to similar efforts like 'Livin' On A Prayer'. What happened to the lyrical growth witnessed on 'These Days'? What happened to those Springsteen like storytelling aspirations? Thematically speaking, they've done this song many times before. Only much better.

Overall, 'Because We Can' feels like a solid album track rather than a knockout lead single from a forthcoming record. It doesn't whet the appetite like 'You Give Love A Bad Name', 'Keep The Faith, 'It's My Life' and 'Have A Nice Day' did, and if it's the best example of their new material it doesn't bode well for the rest of 'What About Now'. As far as pop songs go it's a decent listen, not bad not brilliant. But the band are capable of so much better. It's just a shame they don't want to leave their successful musical comfort zone to really knuckle down and create something fresh and exciting.

'Because We Can' is available now. Bon Jovi return to the UK this summer for a stadium tour.

Bon Jovi UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 8th 2013 - Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Sun June 9th 2013 - Villa Park, Birmingham
Wed June 12th 2013 - Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Thu June 13th 2013 - Stadium Of Light, Sunderland
Sat June 15th 2013 - Slane Castle, Slane
Wed July 3rd 2013 - Hampden Park, Glasgow

Click Here to Compare & Buy Bon Jovi Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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