BON JOVI – “Because We Can” (2013 Island Records Japanese single)
There was a time I used to look forward to new releases by Bon Jovi. It’s been a long time since I felt that way. I thought the band bounced back (pun intended) with 2002’s Bounce, then they lost me immediately again with This Left Feels Right. I don’t like to give up on bands that I used to feel strongly about, so I decided to check out Bon Jovi’s newest single, “Because We Can”.
I chose the Japanese single as it had one more track than the European. I had not even heard the song yet. It is written by Jon, Richie and songsmith Billy Falcon, produced by Jon and John Shanks. (In other words, more of the same…) The single came with a small 6-panel fold out poster and lyric booklet in English and Japanese.
Like many fans who have been hanging on long past Bon Jovi’s best before date, I found the song disappointing. Rather than growing, it sounds like Bon Jovi are returning to the mainstream modern pop sounds of Have A Nice Day or even Lost Highway. Bon Jovi’s never been the hardest rocking band, but they have written some great passionate rock songs in the past. “Because We Can”, by title alone, should be in your face and proud of it. Instead, it’s another faceless Pop Jovi song. I’m going to write my own Pop Jovi song called “Who Says We Ain’t Strangers Tonight Because We Got It Goin’ On”.
I hate the chorus, it would be embarrassing to be caught singing this one. There are some nice guitar licks flitting here and there, almost Brian May-like in sound, but barely audible. Everything is buried under a thick blanket of backing vocals, plastic drums and electronic sounds. You can barely make out Richie’s voice, and what passes for a guitar solo is really just a layered guitar melody. At least the Japanese single comes with an instrumental version, which will allow you to hear Richie’s simple and sparing guitar.
The third and final track is a 7 minute live version of “Keep the Faith”, from 2010 in New Jersey. Even this is slightly more laid back than the original 1992 version. But at least it shows that Bon Jovi can write and play challenging material while keeping it accessible. From the manic drum patterns to Richie’s smokin’ solo, this live version is everything that “Because We Can” should be. Richie really shines on this track; I hope he comes back. Bon Jovi without Richie ain’t Bon Jovi.
Based on this single, I won’t be buying the new album What About Now unless I find it cheap.