New record leaves fans searching for Bon Jovi’s ‘nice day’

Nancy Hall

Following the hype after Bon Jovi’s performance at Live 8 this summer, the ninth studio effort from these Jersey boys falls short of high expectations.

Three years since the release of their last album “Bounce,” Bon Jovi’s “Have a Nice Day” had a great deal to live up to in terms of the band’s legacy. The title track was well received at the aid relief concert in July, and it seemed as though the boys had found their way back to their strong ’80s roots. Now enjoying radio airplay, the song is an anthem for anyone who is tired of being told what to do with their life – “when the world gets in my face, I say ‘Have a nice day.'”

Sadly, the rest album has holes too large to allow for a truly successful return. Tracks such as “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “Last Cigarette” seem desperate attempts to find a hook that result in irritating repetition of the phrases “It’s alright” and “last cigarette.” Less annoying is the remake of the former song with Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, which should have been used as the song’s only version. It has a country flair and the repetitive bridge is made tolerable with the addition of Nettles.

The theme of this album appears to be one of misunderstanding, heartache, broken pride and confusion. The songs are over-sung and Jon Bon Jovi strains to sound more edgy and angst-ridden than he ever was in his younger years. With band members in their early forties, Bon Jovi should strive for a mature sound rather than trying to fit in with current pop rock trends.

“Have a Nice Day” would probably benefit from being appreciated as an instrumental cut. The music of the album returns to the Bon Jovi we know and love, reminiscent of “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “I’ll Be There for You.” Many songs lose their potential for greatness due to trite endeavors at catchy lyrics, but there are some diamonds in the rough.

“Welcome to Wherever You Are” urges a listener to embrace personal differences and avoid self-doubt because “everyone’s a miracle in their way” who should “remember that you’re perfect; God makes no mistakes.” At the core of the album lies “Bells of Freedom,” a moving song describing the strength of a person’s faith that one day freedom will return to his land.

The song this reviewer feels holds the most potential is “Last Man Standing.” It talks about a dying breed of musicians whose music comes from their own heart and soul. Recalling the glory days of music artistry, Bon Jovi also seems to condemn today’s music – “Their songs were more than music; they were pictures from the soul. So keep your pseudo-punk, hip-hop, pop-rock junk and your digital downloads.”

The more you put into this album, the more you will receive. It grows with multiple plays, but is still a far cry from what it could have been. While Bon Jovi fans should be happy to see them return to the charts once more, do not expect them to rise too high in the numbers with this effort.

Give these tracks a second listen: “Welcome to Wherever You Are” and “Last Man Standing”

Our rating: 3 stars (out of five)