Rocktober Day 30: Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet


Hellz Bellz people, we’re almost there! We’ve covered a lot of ground this month, much of it as assy as you could ever hope it would be, but the one thing we haven’t really touched on is one of the greatest perpetrators of good/bad music in the HISTORY of music:

Yes, New Jersey’s favorite sons...well...their OTHER favorite sons, rose up from the muck and the mire of the 80’s hair metal movement to reach new heights as metal band. But they were a ridiculously popular hair metal band that you had just as good a chance of seeing on the MTV Top 20 Video Countdown as you did Headbangers Ball. In a mysterious confluence of screeching guitars, inappropriate chap usage and genius marketing the band became one the biggest in the world seemingly overnight.

And it was all due to little album by the name of Slippery When Wet.

“You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Livin’ on a Prayer”, and “Never Say Goodbye” were all top 20 hits, and two of them (“Bad Name” and “Wanted”) shot right up to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (TAKE THAT QUIET RIOT!). Seriously, in 1986 there was an epidemic of Bon Jovi fever and the only cure was MORE HAIRSPRAY. The band that had previously released such “gems” as 1985’s “In and Out of Love” and 1984’s “Runaway”, struck musical gold by simply downplaying the whole metal thing and finally admitting that under all that hair and leather they were nothing more than a truly great pop band with a pair of truly great songwriters at the wheel.

If you consider that your freaking grandchildren are probably going to know the words to “Livin’ on a Prayer” by heart, then you start to get the idea of how huge this band really was. Hell, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora’s 1989 performance of “Wanted Dead Or Alive” on the MTV Video Music Awards was the reason that the network later went on to bring the world MTV Unplugged. They not only influenced culture (how many pairs of ripped jeans did YOU have waiting at the ready) they in a very real way changed the musical tastes of an entire nation (TAKE THAT RATT!). Unremarkably, the band is still going strong today, but they’ve never managed to repeat the success that they found with Slippery When Wet. Were the stars aligned just so? Did they make some sacrifice to the secret God of all things ass rock? I’ve seen the Behind the Music at least 13 times, and those answers are sadly nowhere to be found.

The very first MTV Unplugged. They still had the budget for EPIC hair back then.

What do know though, is that the Slippery is currently the 21st best selling album of all time (OOOOOH...BURN CINDERALLA!), and the songs that it spawned have been covered, remixed, adverted and put to god knows what other use and have lost none of their “power”. Whatever musical mainline the “Jersey Twins” managed to tap into way back then was connected right to the source, and as much as I hate to admit it, enabled them to create something that is as universal as it is pretty much eternal.

Sure there was luck involved. Maybe even destiny. But there was also raw unfettered talent at work on Slippery When Wet which is why no matter how awful and cheese infused it remains to this day, it stands as a testament to the American Dream. Bon Jovi proved that if you just work hard, believe in yourself, and then get millions of people to believe in you as well, you can achieve pretty much anything, even if that thing is creating the most impossibly assy record of all time.

This Rocktober our hat’s are off to you Bon Jovi for either using your music to make the world a better place, or completely ruining it for all of time to come...we’re just not sure which.



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