Bon Jovi is one of the most popular American rock bands to ever grace a world stage. The New Jersey outfit dominated arenas in the 1980s, with hit songs like “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” cementing their place as anthems of the decade. Their brand of hard rock infused with melodic power ballads helped them transcend the big-haired era and maintain success well into the 21st century. The band’s solid songcraft and enduring popularity has allowed them to continue releasing albums and touring internationally to sold-out crowds.
Bon Jovi has been a mainstay on the music scene since its formation in 1983. Its early rise is a testament to the power of radio stations, which in 1982 started playing Jon Bongiovi’s demo tape containing the urgent bad-girl chronicle “Runaway.” That caught the attention of a New York station owner and helped the group land a recording contract with Polygram/Mercury Records. The band’s first, self-titled album followed in 1984 and the sophomore effort 7800deg Fahrenheit came out the following year.
With the release of Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi became a household name thanks to massive singles such as “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” That fueled their tour schedule and gave them a huge worldwide fan base that has continued to grow over the decades.
The band’s style has remained steady even as the music world changed, shifting with sonic trends and introducing their own. They were among the first metal bands to get major rotation on MTV and their songs helped give a leg-up to up-and-coming acts like Skid Row, who went on to become one of the most successful bands in the 90s. While they stayed true to their sound, Bon Jovi has also maintained relevance by embracing social commentary in their lyrics. “Bounce” was a tribute to New York’s resilience after 9/11 while “Have a Nice Day” urged tolerance.
In recent years, Bon Jovi has diversified its portfolio with several television and film appearances and the formation of a foundation that addresses homeless issues. The band members also have pursued solo projects. Sambora released a solo album in 2012, and Bryan and Torres have each made their own mark with their own recordings.
In 2019, the band began work on a new album, which was released in March of 2022 and is titled 2020. While anyone who thinks of Bon Jovi as a big-haired ’80s band may be surprised by this thoughtful collection, they will find that the album is filled with strong melodies and powerful songs that are not afraid to address issues such as gun control (“Lower the Flag”), the coronavirus crisis (the disarmingly beautiful American Reckoning) and more. Despite a few changes in the lineup over the years, Bon Jovi continues to be a force to be reckoned with on the global rock landscape and is still touring with sold-out shows. Check out this list of some of the best Bon Jovi songs to find out why.