Bon Jovi’s “New Jersey” turns 30

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According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the album’s original title was to be “Sons of Beaches.” However, “New Jersey” is better, some would argue. At any rate, the follow-up to 1986’s mega-popular “Slippery When Wet,” was released Sept. 19, 1988. The album proved that Bon Jovi had what it took to sustain the momentum that the band had begun to create with their earlier singles such as “She Don’t Know Me,” “In and Out of Love,” and “Runaway.”

“New Jersey” by Bon Jovi

As the follow-up to “Slippery When Wet,” “New Jersey” had a great deal to live up to. But audiences could hear that the music from “New Jersey” was just as energetic and just as authentic in terms of rock music is considered, as the band’s previous albums.

The video for “Bad Medicine” helped to push the singles’ popularity over the edge. Audiences seemed eager to hear and see what the band from New Jersey planned next. The video enjoyed heavy rotation on Music Television, and its success was buoyed by the fact it took place at a concert. The packed venue and Jon Bon Jovi’s rock dancing were an intoxicating mixture. Audiences watching from their living rooms could imagine they were there.

Then, of course there was the music. Bon Jovi had a way of arranging songs back then that allowed keyboards to blend seamlessly with guitars, and at other places in the same song, allowing keyboards to shine with a hard edge. “Bad Medicine” and “Lay Your Hands on Me” are effective examples of that dynamic.

“New Jersey” debuted at No.8– no small feat for any band, but especially monumental for a relatively new band. One week later, it was No. 1.

In addition, the songs “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There for You” both went to No. 1.

Bon Jovi, a mix of genres

While it is impossible to know exactly what contributes to a band’s formula for success, one thing that does help Bon Jovi, or at least did back in the band’s early days, is that they mixed styles. They walked the line between hard rock and heavy metal, and bad boys and the boys next door.

Whatever the band has for a formula, works. Even as music trends changed, the band has been able to make changes to stay true to their vision of themselves. In the 1980s, Bon Jovi was an integral part of the 1980s rock music scene. Thirty years later, “New Jersey” is still memorable.

 

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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