Bon Jovi reaches one billion views with “It’s My Life”

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Twenty years after the song was released, and 12 years after the video for it was uploaded to YouTube, Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” has reached one billion views. This feat is significant because it shows that the band’s message is still important to audiences. It also shows that despite the existence of video channels, people continue to turn to YouTube to find videos.

Bon Jovi: before “It’s My Life”

For rock fans, the name Bon Jovi likely evokes memories of the sound of hard rock guitar combined with keyboards and pounding drums. Gritty songs about life in New Jersey, love on the edge of going bad, and sometimes, insisting on having a good time, despite everything else.

But the sound was not all hard-hitting rock songs. There were ballads. Rock-oriented slow songs that seemed made for prom playlists in certain eras, such as “I’ll Be There For You,” and “Never Say Goodbye,” allowed Bon Jovi to show that they were more than just a rock band. Of course, in an era when it was a popular approach for rock bands to put out a ballad or two, Bon Jovi’s ballads still shows the band’s ability to weave a narrative.

Bon Jovi in the 21st century

While the story of what happened to glam metal in the 1990s is arguably well-known, Bon Jovi’s survival beyond the 1990s indicates that the band’s ability to re-define itself was successful. The group was not quite hair metal, but sort of, and was too hard-edged to be simply defined as “pop.” Their sound was simply their own, and their sound was flexible.

That flexiblity was heard on 2000’s “Crush” (on which “It’s My Life” is found) and 2005’s “Have a Nice Day.” To some, the different style, the lighter tone of music, indicated a sort of failure for Bon Jovi. But that is not true.

While it is not clear exactly who is watching the video for “It’s My Life” so much, what is clear, the song has remained relevant in a pandemic, in an age where there are many avenues for entertainment, audiences are choosing YouTube, and finding comfort in rock music, or rock-pop music that is more than 20 years old.

Whatever people might think of Bon Jovi, their staying power is significant, as they came to prominence when one-hit wonders were plentiful.

Obtaining one billion views is no small feat. There is a special club for performers that have reached the milestone. It is not exactly an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the band was inducted in 2018), the accomplishment still speaks volumes about the messages that people find important. The lyrics of “It’s My Life” charges up listeners with the idea of living life on one’s own terms, and makes it clear there is no time to wait to implement this take charge approach. When these ideas are presented in catchy pop-rock hooks and sung in an almost-anthemic way, people pay attention, time and time again.

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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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