Of all the ’80s rock groups, Bon Jovi proved to be one (if not the most) successful of their generation, consistently filling the biggest venues in the world with impassioned fans that know their hit-laden discography like the back of their hand. While many of their peers have fallen into antiquity, Bon Jovi has kept their stars lit for decades—and show no signs of fizzling out any time soon.
Below, we’ve put together a playlist of the group’s top songs that will help you take a trip through Bon Jovi’s stellar work. From the smooth groove of “Born to Be My Baby” to the anthemic “Livin’ on a Prayer,” here are 10 Bon Jovi songs that warrant a revisit.
1. “Born to Be My Baby”
While many of their hair band peers were sticking to bolstering their larger-than-life images and rock star status, Bon Jovi wasn’t shying away from baring their troubles in a number of working-class anthems. In “Born to Be My Baby,” the band says that true love is what makes life worth living, despite jobs, bills, and other stresses. Quite a tender statement for a rock group.
2. “Wild in the Streets”
Slippery When Wet was Bon Jovi’s breakout. While it featured a number of their biggest hits to date, the album also featured some underappreciated classics like “Wild in the Streets.” With a Chuck Berry-inspired riff and lyrics that concern themselves with the band’s upbringing in New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi sings, While the old men recite their story lines about when I was young like you / They say oh yeah we were cruising to the backbeat / Oh yeah, making love in the backseats / We were wild, wild in the streets.
3. “I’ll Be There for You”
What is an ’80s rock group without a power ballad or two? Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You” proved to be a particularly successful ballad pursuit for the group, clinching their fourth No. 1 single. The track also opened the door for a softer sound for the group that would pop up around their subsequent efforts.
4. “In and Out of Love”
Featured on their second album, “In and Out of Love” saw the band draw inspiration from a number of their influences, notably KISS. With vocals nearing a scream and stacked guitars, the track is pop metal at its core. The lyrics read Young and wired / Set to explode in the heat / You won’t tire / ‘Cause baby, you were born with the beat.
5. “Lay Your Hands on Me”
The chant of “Hey!” in “Lay Your Hands on Me” became a staple in Bon Jovi’s live show. Richie Sambora’s guitar riff has become iconic in Bon Jovi’s discography. Though the track saw the band expanding their sonic direction a bit, the fans were quickly on board, launching this one onto the Billboard Top 10 upon its release.
6. “You Give Love a Bad Name”
When that acapella opening for “You Give Love a Bad Name” comes through the speakers it feels like a punch in the face, a kick in the gut, a shot through the heart…Written alongside Desmond Child, the band scored their first No. 1 hit with this track in 1986. The track perfectly melds a heavy rock riff and a poppier melody and cemented Bon Jovi into household names.
7. “Bad Medicine”
New Jersey catapulted Bon Jovi into a new level of stardom with “Bad Medicine” leading the way. The first single from the LP, “Bad Medicine” held the tension between their past records and a new, softer musical direction. With a new onus on pop-laden choruses, the group earned themselves yet another No. 1 hit.
Bon Jovi’s first album ushered in a wave of new musical styles – incorporating both their ’70s influences and the glitz and glamour of ’80s rock. Jon Bon Jovi dips into his falsetto toward the end, creating a now-iconic outro. Elsewhere Rick Springfield guitarist, Tim Pierce, adds his unmistakable style to the mix. The result is something unique from Bon Jovi that more than deserves a place on this list.
9. “Wanted Dead or Alive”
It’s hard to believe that “Wanted Dead or Alive” wasn’t a No. 1 hit for Bon Jovi. It has certainly proliferated on classic rock radio nevertheless. The song conflates the image of a rock star with that of a cowboy on an old western frontier. The smoky track feels like it could score a high noon shoot-out or a sweeping shot of an arid desert. Few tracks build as this one does thanks to Sambora’s wiry guitar solo and Jon Bon Jovi’s belting vocals.
10. “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Some songs transcend their era, genre, and fanbase. “Livin’ on a Prayer” is one such song. Whether you’re 15 or 50, when this rock classic comes on in a crowded room you’re bound to belt out the chorus with the rest of the masses – it’s almost second nature.
In his own words, Jon Bon Jovi said of the track, “It deals with the way that two kids–Tommy and Gina–face life’s struggles, and how their love and ambitions get them through the hard times. It’s working class and it’s real.” Whether it’s the familiar story or the anthemic melody, it’s hard to beat “livin’ on a Prayer.”
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