BON JOVI: HAVE A NICE DAY (2005)
1) Have A Nice Day; 2) I Want To Be Loved; 3) Welcome To Wherever You Are; 4) Who Says You Can't Go Home; 5) Last Man Standing; 6) Bells Of Freedom; 7) Wildflower; 8) Last Cigarette; 9) I Am; 10) Complicated; 11) Novocaine; 12) Story Of My Life; 13) Who Says You Can't Go Home (duet); 14*) Dirty Little Secret; 15*) Unbreakable; 16*) These Open Arms.
And with this friendly statement, Bon Jovi become Nickelback. Thirteen (sixteen, if you count the bonuses) tracks of non-stop, completely interchangeable, instantly forgettable, absolutely similar-sounding guitar drivel — just the kind of music that gives «rock» such a bad name among progressively-oriented youngsters these days. Up to now, Bon Jovi had been almost everything, from dreadfully tasteless to surprisingly effective when they had their hooks properly aligned, but never before had they been so utterly dull.
Whatever potential any of these songs may have (and as far as their bare-bones melodies go, I guess they aren't that much better or worse than the regular Bon Jovi fare), it is all wasted away on arrangements that put volume and pure energy (or imitation thereof) in the place of creativity, and then support them with pathos. The title track greets us with a forcedly passionate "Why you wanna tell me how to live my life?" — even though we'd think, after all these years, there would hardly be anybody left in the world to want to tell Jon Bon Jovi how to live his life. (He'd even cut his hair already, by his own free-will decision). "When the world gets in my face, I say — have a nice day!" And when was the last time it actually happened?
Oh, that's right — these songs aren't about (or at least, aren't for) Jon Bon Jovi, they are about and for his young (or not so young already), rebellious audiences. This ʽHave A Nice Dayʼ song — what a perfect anthem to arm yourself with, right? And shove it in the face of anyone who tries to bug you? "My daddy lived a lie, that's just the price that he paid, sacrificed his life just slaving away", but that's not me, sure enough, I ain't gonna repeat the same mistakes. (Instead of slaving away and living a lie, I'm just gonna sit around the house and play Grand Theft Auto all day). What a wonderful song — "standing on the ledge, I'll show the wind how to fly" (these generic power chords sure could teach the wind a lesson or two).
If you have honestly listened to and reached an opinion on ʽHave A Nice Dayʼ, and if that opinion happens to resemble mine in any way, feel free not to bother with the rest — like I said, all the other songs here are stylistic clones of the title track. Sometimes the tempo slows down and they dig into a source of romanticism (ʽBells Of Freedomʼ, with Desmond Child co-credited for some reason, even if there is not a single vocal or instrumental hook here that hasn't been regurgitated from the preceding annals of pop history), sometimes the tempo speeds up and the whole song rolls along fast and smooth, a perfect soundtrack for a routine trip along the highway, but in the grand scheme of things, it's all the same all over the place.
It is so much the same, in fact, that for a time I didn't even notice that they did ʽWho Says You Can't Go Homeʼ twice — the second time, as a duet with Jennifer Nettles. Official sources say that the alternate version is a «country version», I suppose because, in addition to Nettles, who is herself ranked as a country artist, they add a fiddle and a slide guitar part, without amending anything in the basic mix. How easy it is to switch genres these days — throw in an electric guitar solo and you get the «rock version», a fiddle and a Southern gal and you get the «country version», and then they market you to all these neatly charted sectors of the market, and nothing is really as ʽComplicatedʼ as that track implies ("I'm complicated, I get frustrated, right or wrong, love or hate it") — Kurt was far more convincing, but at least there ain't no big danger of Jon blowing his brains out any of these days: for all its fakery, Have A Nice Day shows a human being with a perfectly normal psychic health system.
Upon release, Have A Nice Day sold very well, was lauded in the mainstream rock press, got lots of air- and videoplay, and certainly pleased the dedicated fan by keeping alive the Bon Jovi spirit and sounding modern, relevant, and aware of the latest trends in rock music at the same time. Those latest trends, of course, being rather conservative: "Keep your pseudo-punk, hip-hop, pop-rock junk and your digital downloads" (ʽLast Man Standingʼ). Even disregarding the fact that I got this album as a digital download, say, Mr. Bon Jovi, I thought your career, from the very beginning, very much qualified as «pop-rock junk», or am I being led astray? Who are you singing about again — Robert Fripp?
Confused, but not amused, I give this record a thumbs down, because any other decision might imply that you are telling me how to live my life. «Have a nice day».