Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: Keep the Faith
Other Versions: None
Era: 90s "moody rock" period
Keep the Faith was Bon Jovi's first "I swear to freaking God we're not hair metal PLEASE don't dismiss us as fluff. Look, we even cut our hair! Well David and Richie didn't, and Tico's is still to his shoulders, but C'MON don't we look serious now?" album. I think most Bon Jovi fans tend to be a little blind to that idea - that the album's motivation wasn't simply to be good music for all to enjoy. As much as they like to pretend they weren't, Bon Jovi were really the forerunners of 80s cheesy pop metal..."hair metal", "poodle rock", whatever. Anyone who looks at the lavender spandex, the three-foot hair, who listens to the high-pitched metal screams and say with a straight face and full conviction that "they were never cheesy hair metal", they're pretty delusional.
This isn't a knock on the band, I just think they tend to assume that if they admit to being that cheesy fun pop metal they get accused of being, people will immediately ignore the substance they had. The only real difference between Bon Jovi and Poison is that Bon Jovi knew when the 90s hit and grunge came around they better get moody fast. Not that I doubt the artistic integrity of Keep the Faith and These Days - I'm not trying to imply they didn't in any way feel what they were writing. They were getting older, their lives were changing, they were coming off a four-year break and lives developing independently of each other. I just refuse to believe it's entirely coincidental that when grunge came, their mood and what they wanted to look like just happened to match with the shift in society.
I sound like I'm bashing them, I know. I'm not - I don't think it's a bad thing they recognize the times and can change with them without losing their essential "Bon Jovi-ness". It's just one of those things I feel needs to be said that doesn't get said (right up there with "a synthesizer does not mean the music is bad, please stop knocking your first two albums"). If Bon Jovi didn't know how to shift without losing their essence, I wouldn't be listening to them right now because, being born in 87 as I was, I would have missed them entirely, so I really can't be that bothered that they do that. I also think people might take this as me accusing them of "selling out", which I don't. I actually use this song as an example of them not "selling out" when others accuse this of being a "we just want to make money and not be has-beens" album.
Rambling aside (I promise I won't do that everytime a KTF or These Days song comes up), this is the hair metal leftover. It's fun and happy and lacking in seriousness and is an excellent party song, as well as an ideal live song. It's a concert staple and it's not hard to see why - it's so high-energy and the drum beat is really easy and fun to clap along to. It's good to get people involved, get them moving.
It's got some really cute lyrics (yes, 90s Jon, I am accusing your 90s lyrics of "cuteness") - "drive you wild 8 days a week" being one of my favorite lines, partially because I like listening to people who are hearing this for the first time go "wait...that's not right".
My (not particularly) funny story about this song: the first time I listened to the KTF album was on an extremely long (6 hour) car ride. I kept dozing off, and this was one of the songs I slept through. Obviously we have a difference of opinion as to when is the appropriate time to sleep!
That gets less amusing every time I tell it and it wasn't that funny to begin with. Consider this the official death of the "sleeping through the I don't need sleep song" story. Good freaking riddance.
Anyway, I really love this song - despite the irresistibility of the clappy drumming which causes people to look at me funny when I'm listening to my headphones and clap clap clap clapclap clapping. It's fun, always puts me in a good mood, and it lightens up a fairly heavy album without sounding out of place.
My Rating: 9/10
Edited 3/25/06: Added lyrics and video