10 Wildly Underrated Bon Jovi Tracks

Without question one of the biggest rock bands of the 1980s, Bon Jovi took the world by storm in late 1986 and maintained a long and steady career that, through its ups and downs, topped those of their pop-metal peers.

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Part of the secret to Bon Jovi’s success is that their frontman and namesake, Jon Bon Jovi, has always wanted to move forward. He cut his long hair in 1993 and has never looked back. He perennially explores different musical options rather than retread old approaches. While the band has had big hits in not only the ‘80s but the ‘90s and the ‘00s as well, they’ve also produced a number of under-appreciated songs that both longtime fans and newbies should enjoy.

1. Roulette” (1984)

The second track on their self-titled debut, following the propulsive single “Runaway,” is a hard rock gem that has a bit more swagger and a heavier vibe. It is one of those driving tracks that epitomized a golden era of American hard rock that ended around the time Bon Jovi came out—just before cheesy synths, big hair (well, bigger hair), and power ballads dominated radio and, especially, MTV.

2. Tokyo Road” (1985)

Here’s another high-powered, singalong anthem, perhaps inspired by the band’s trip to Japan in 1984 during their first world tour. It tells the tale of a young soldier looking back on the respite from war being on leave gave him and living it up before going back into the fray. This was the kind of catchy hard rock the Jersey boys did so well on their first two albums.

3. Borderline” (1986)

If you crave more of that big ‘80s Bon Jovi sound, take a listen to this outtake from their multiplatinum breakthrough album Slippery When Wet. It was only released on a four-song Japanese EP originally, and then was reissued 18 years later on the Japanese edition of the group’s box set, 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong. It’s one of a handful of tunes co-written by BJ’s David Bryan, whose keyboards are up front and center in the chorus.

4. Fear” (1992)

While Jon Bon Jovi claimed to Rolling Stone in 1987 that they were just a fun band who avoided talking about serious topics like Vietnam, he did an about-face with their fifth studio album, Keep the Faith, which focused more on the struggles of working-class people in songs like “Dry County,” the title track, and “Fear,” the lyrics for which deal with being trapped in a life cycle because of fear of change. This is also one of the hardest-rocking tracks in the entire Bon Jovi catalog.

5. The Radio Saved My Life Tonight” (1992/2004)

This was one of the many unreleased or archived tracks to be found on the group’s 2004 box set. Originally recorded in 1992 for the Keep the Faith sessions, it was likely not gritty enough (i.e. too ‘80s) for that release. It carries a simple message about the healing power of nostalgia in the face of how the world changes as one gets older. Maybe Jon wasn’t ready to be so wistful about such things at age 30.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind the Road-Dog Lament “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi]

6. Good Guys Don’t Always Wear White” (1994)

This driving single was recorded for the 1994 movie The Cowboy Way starring Kiefer Sutherland and Woody Harrelson, which is about two rodeo champions who go from New Mexico to NYC to search for a missing friend. It’s got a fierce guitar riff from Richie Sambora, and the music carries a rebellious, spirited vibe befitting both the lyrics and the movie, which were about being proud outsiders.

7. One Wild Night” (2000)

This high-energy, party-hearty song seems to be siphoning a little of the Latin flavor they’d heard co-producer Desmond Child—co-architect of Slippery When Wet mega-hits “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer”—conjure up for Ricky Martin on the mega-mega-hit “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” The video for “One Wild Night” is unendingly silly, but the vibe of this single is fresh and fun, something Jon always strives for.

8. Everyday” (2002)

After the comeback success of their 2000 album Crush and that record’s big hit, “It’s My Life,” Bon Jovi returned with another upbeat single about living life to the fullest. Unlike some of their previous anthems, “Everyday” is a little harder and less overtly catchy—but it grows on you. Bounce featured a lot of surprisingly strong heavy cuts that skewed toward metal, including the title track, “Hook Me Up,” and “Undivided” (which was written about 9/11).

9. “Unbreakable” (2005)

This internationally released bonus track from their Have a Nice Day album is one of the hardest on that platinum selling release. It’s a swaggering song about remaining true and steadfast in one’s convictions, even when faced with people who want to get in your way or change your mind. It’s another solid tune co-written with keyboardist David Bryan, who has been an underutilized songwriting asset for the band. (Proof positive: He co-wrote the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis.)

10. Thorn in My Side” (2009)

This is a more melancholic, if energetic track about navigating the ups and downs in life. The live version from The Circle album cycle also featured Jon Bon Jovi and Sambora harmonizing on their guitars at the end of the song, which made for a nice, buoyant coda. The lyrics are very much in line with latter-day Bon Jovi, which leand toward more grown-up themes:

I gave up on luck but I’m still gettin’ by
Yeah I’m going to be alright
You can test my faith
But you can’t take my pride

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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