I’ve been a Bon Jovi fan for as long as I can remember. It all started with You Give Love a Bad Name, which was released somewhere around my sophomore year of high school. By the time the album New Jersey came out, I was hooked. I remember friends riding in my car, commenting that I ALWAYS had a Bon Jovi tape playing. I couldn’t get enough.
After Jersey, Bon Jovi disappeared for what seemed like forever before releasing one of my top albums of all time: Keep the Faith. I still have the CD in my truck, one of only SIX discs in my CD changer. I never get tired of it.
Having been a fan since almost the beginning and owning every album they have released, I consider myself something of a Bon Jovi connoisseur. I may not be an expert on the band, but I do know their music. But before I get to ranking their albums, let’s take a look back.
I hadn’t realized until just now that I can easily break down their albums into periods and that those periods pretty consistently come in pairs. How ’bout that… I learned something today.
Bon Jovi Albums by Release Date
The Early Years
These two albums were before my time. I hadn’t started listening to Bon Jovi until Slippery When Wet, but once a fan, I went backward and purchased the earlier albums, as I am wont to do.
Bon Jovi (1984)
7800° Fahrenheit (1985)
The Glory Days
These were the glory years of hair bands, and Bon Jovi was at the top of their game. I still can’t help but crank up the volume for You Give Love a Bad Name or Bad Medicine. There are so many classic songs on these two albums alone.
|Slippery When Wet (1986)||New Jersey (1988)|
It was only four years between albums, but those four years were a lifetime to a kid moving from high school to college. But I have to say; it was worth the wait. The next two albums were two of their best and most different, as they moved out of the hair band stage and into a more mature rock.
|Keep the Faith (1992)||These Days (1995)|
The Forgotten Years
I call these the forgotten years because, for me, these next two albums just kind of got lost in the shuffle. Maybe it was my period of life, or that they just didn’t resonate with me. Both are solid albums, but neither album stands out as exceptionally noteworthy.
|Crush (2000)||Bounce (2002)|
Here Bon Jovi got back to some good ol’ rock and roll. Have a Nice Day was a great rock album followed by Lost Highway which was a venture into country territory. I’m not a fan of country but I do love this album.
|Have a Nice Day (2005)||Lost Highway (2007)|
This was the beginning of Bon Jovi’s decline as a rock band. In fact, they can barely be classified as a rock band anymore, and this is where they lost their edge. I think there might be one song on The Circle that I enjoyed and maybe two or three on What About Now. But enjoyment is in perspective with the rest of the album, and the best songs here don’t hold a candle to the worst of previous albums. (Though I do love the What About Now cover.)
|The Circle (2009)||What About Now (2013)|
Burning Bridges was meant to be a throwaway album. A way for Bon Jovi to burn off the last album of their record contract before moving on to another label. But it’s not a throwaway album at all and happens to be one of my favorites. Especially the title song where they tell their record label where to go. (Fun fact: Bon Jovi ended up signing with another label that… wait for it… is a child label of the parent label the “left.”)
|Burning Bridges (2015)|
The Beginning of the End
Coming off of Burning Bridges, which for me meant that Bon Jovi was back, This House was a bitter disappointment. Bon Jovi most certainly wasn’t back. It’s not the worst album; they were just practicing for it. 2020 feels more like a Jon Bon Jovi solo album than a Bon Jovi record. I’m not even certain the band played on it.
|This House is Not for Sale (2016)||2020 (2020)|
The Solo Albums
For good measure, I’m throwing in the two Jon Bon Jovi solo albums. Blaze of Glory was utter brilliance and one of my all-time favorite albums and soundtracks. Unfortunately, I think Destination Anywhere was my first true Bon Jovi disappointment. Though it did grow on me.
|Blaze of Glory (1990)||Destination Anywhere (1997)|
The Greatest Hits w/New Tunes
Since I own all of Bon Jovi’s Studio albums (I’m not a fan of live albums), there’s really no need for me to buy any greatest hits… except those with new songs. To my knowledge, there have been only two, and both have songs that are truly deserving of being included on a greatest hits album.
|Crossroads (1994)||Greatest Hits (2011)|
The Remakes and B Sides
Between Bounce and Have a Nice Day, Bon Jovi released two special albums. The first is an album of their songs re-arranged and toned down. It’s not all bad, but not all good. The second contained 51 tracks of B sides and tracks that never made the cut. Some are demo tracks or partials, but there are some solid gold nuggets that have become some of my top Bon Jovi songs. (I’m looking at you Outlaws of Love.) This Left was classic tracks re-imagined as adult contemporary tunes. Had it been me, I would have gone another way.
|This Left Feels Right (2003)||100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong (2004)|
Bon Jovi Albums Ranked Best to Worst
If you read the above, you already have a pretty good idea of what I think of each releases. When Bon Jovi was great, they were great. When they weren’t, they weren’t. But at least they weren’t all hot and all cold. It’s just that their cold was really cold.
So here they are, my ranking for Bon Jovi albums from best to worst.
- Keep the Faith – One of my favorite albums of all time. No just Bon Jovi albums, all albums anywhere.
- Blaze of Glory – The title song is probably one of my all-time favorite songs, but the whole album is spectacular.
- These Days – A dark but brilliant album. Also, underappreciated. Also, released on my birthday!
- New Jersey – It really pains me to rank this fourth, because it’s such a great album.
- Slippery When Wet – Another all-time classic album.
- Burning Bridges – Just a fun album all the way around.
- Crossroads – Two fantastic new tunes and a remake of Livin on a Prayer.
- Have a Nice Day – Good solid rock album.
- Lost Highway – Great mix of rock and country. Just a fun album to listen to.
- 7800° Fahrenheit – Some great classic songs here.
- 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong – Must have for any collector and some great tunes for fans.
- Bounce – The Post 9/11 album.
- Crush – Some solid songs overall.
- Greatest Hits – Five new songs worth having.
- Bon Jovi – Great first effort.
- Destination Anywhere – Nostalgically, this is higher, but not a solid rock album.
- This House is Not for Sale – There’s some good stuff here, but sloppy songwriting IMO.
- This Left Feels Right – A bit mellow for my taste
- What About Now – A few good songs.
- The Circle – This album shocked me by how boring it was.
- 2020 – If 2020 were an album… oh, it is.
It would seem that my love of Bon Jovi has waned over the past decade. Clearly, I haven’t been a huge fan of their latest albums, but I’m still a huge Bon Jovi fan. I’m the type of person who can enjoy an album by a band even when I don’t particularly like it. For me, it’s part of the whole Bon Jovi experience. And who’s to say… maybe they’ll release another winning album or two.