Review: Bon Jovi – What About Now

Written by: Sion Smith


Rather foolishly, What About Now’s first track, Because We Can, starts with the lyric “I don’t wanna be another wave in the ocean”.

Sadly, Jon, that’s exactly what you’ve become – and not a jawbreaker that you can ride into the sunset either. More akin to one of those scrawny white ones that grandparents run away from lest they get their feet wet.

Bon Jovi What About Now

I say this with the heaviest of hearts – but what the hell happened to Bon Jovi? The last four or five (seven?) albums are, at best, interchangeable filler records that –  back in the day – would have been kicked out of the studio as being too weak even for a b-side release. I’m being generous here too – their last great album was Keep The Faith. Know what year that was? I’ll tell you – it was 1992. That’s 20 years ago. I might, just might hand them This Left Feels Right but it doesn’t really count because all the hard work was done already.

I like Bon Jovi. I like the band, the man, the ethos and I potentially have all the time in the world for them, but it’s only now that I look back on those 20 years of patience that I feel like I’ve been wasting my time – and absolutely everything on this album reinforces my opinion.

On the title track, Jon pleads about sparks starting fires and getting behind the wheel to drive the car. He can see all the same things that I see, but seems somehow powerless to reach up and actually get it done. We all know he can because it’s been done a hundred times before but come on man, what about now? There’s a world dying on its knees out here geared and primed for the taking.

I had to turn this (pointless ‘International Deluxe’ 16 track version) album off at track eight. By the time you get that far, you know in your heart it’s not going to get any better. I gave it my time, it disappointed in the extreme, it will never be listened to again and instead I’ve gone back and listened to New Jersey if only to make sure that I hadn’t made a complete mistake somewhere in the annals of time. Worth noting here: I’ve seen Bon Jovi live more than any other band. Most of them were lucky accidents – I did a whole Kiss tour once when they went out on the road with them (and often kicked their ass), there were festivals and a fair few headliners of their own but to really pour tar down the castle walls, if somebody handed me free tickets today to go see a show, I think I would rather stay home and watch my hair. Nope. That’s not a spelling error.

For one of the (potentially) best bands to come out of modern rock music, don’t you think that’s incredibly sad?

On the off chance that somebody might point him in the direction of this, I’ll tell you what the problem is: when Bon Jovi ruled the world, they looked forwards. Life was fun, an incredible adventure. I know because I was there and they were my soundtrack. All their progressively less-than-average albums are retrospective. The solution? Give all your money away and start again from hungry. Pay Trent Reznor to produce an album for you. Go have dinner with Desmond Child. It’s not my career and legacy that’s washing away with the outgoing tide (shit, I’ve got my own problems) but nobody likes to see a great talent all washed up on the beach for no other reason that there’s nothing left worth fighting for.

I have no other words now that can be of use now, so I shall stop, (not very) content in the knowledge that the person to point out that the Emperor had left his clothes on the tour bus was me.

Tommy used to work on the docks don’t you know….




Author: Sion Smith

My name is Sion Smith. I write about rock music, books and pop-culture – kind of like a rock n roll Nick Hornby or maybe Hank Moody with hair. Sion is pronounced as in Sean Connery/Shawn Michaels – take your pick. If you’re interested, it’s Welsh. I'm also the editor of Skin Deep, the biggest selling tattoo magazine in the UK and harbour designs on writing for Doctor Who – these two things are not related. Aside from that, I’m currently working on a TV screenplay called Fox On The Run and also contribute articles to The Void - which you know already because you're here. You can jump on the feed of my own blog at sionsmith.co.uk.

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