When Bon Jovi made their debut 40 years ago with their 1984 self-titled album featuring their hit ‘Runaway,’ they were compared to the likes of Canadian rock group Loverboy. Words like “characterless” and “nondescript” were used to describe their music in a review of the time, which called out Jon Bon Jovi’s singing as “high, hysterical screaming.” The review went on to slam his songwriting, saying, “He writes dumb songs about women”, and concluded with one final dig, “The band’s brand of antiseptic hard rock only makes you want to cheer on all the more the undiluted heavy rockers like Mötley Crüe.”

Despite starting out as the Rodney Dangerfield of rock bands — with absolutely no respect — the Jersey boys were just not livin’ on a prayer four decades ago. However, after 40 years of earworm anthemic hooks and unparalleled success that saw them inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018, they’re now back with their highly anticipated 16th studio album Forever and it’s nothing short of an absolute triumph!

Forever is Bon Jovi’s first release since 2020 and Jon Bon Jovi’s vocal cord surgery in 2022. Over the past few years, Jon has been facing up to the likely scenario of never being able to sing in a concert again, following the surgery, but despite these monumental challenges; Forever is packed with stadium-sized anthems and huge ballads, carried by Jon’s superb vocals and underpinned by his tight company of players including original drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan. There is no denying that fans miss the inclusion of guitarist Richie Sambora, however, he has not been a part of the fold for over eleven years now. Feeling like a lifetime ago, the cast joining Jon, David, and Tico is still a very talented bunch; this being bassist Hugh McDonald, guitarist Phil X and John Shanks, plus multi-instrumentalist Everett Bradley.

Together they joined up with Jon in the studio and carved out twelve tracks that feel like a much needed breath of fresh air. It’s an album that musically sounds like peak Bon Jovi, as the band almost goes back to basics. When you consider Jon Bon Jovi fronted the biggest stadium rock band of the Eighties, not having your instrument sound like it should is a big idea to get used to. However, Forever further cements Bon Jovi as one of the greatest acts in history and shows they still have a lot more to give. “This record is a return to joy,” says Jon. “From the writing, through the recording process, this is turn up the volume, feel good Bon Jovi.”, and you can hear it. This is Bon Jovi at their hooky best and it’s as good as the rest.

Bon Jovi opens Forever with a triptych of songs whose titles seem like testaments to the band’s legacy. Perhaps Jon isn’t explicitly singing about his long-running band on opener and lead single ‘Legendary’ but it can be viewed as a testament to that. Launching the record in jubilant style and paying tribute to the family, friends and band camaraderie that’s seen Bon Jovi sustain a four-decade career, Jon sings “Got a fistful of friends that’ll stand up for me / Right where I am / Is where I wanna be / Friday night comes /Around like a song / Sweet Caroline and we all sing along / Got my brown eyed girl / And she believes in me / Legendary”.



The second track is ‘We Made It Look Easy’, a thrumming Bon Jovi staple-type track that charts the band’s rise from New Jersey clubs to stadia status, and has heartfelt appeal. Bon Jovi has an ear for a nagging hook, and this one is into you before the first chorus has even faded away. The third track is ‘Living Proof’ which launches into a riff that’s immediately run through a talk box reminiscing of ‘Living On A Prayer’. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that Forever arrives 40 years after the group’s debut, accompanied by the four-part Disney+ documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story. It’s also true that Bon Jovi isn’t making music that would push their singer to his limits.

In a time where anxiety is riding high, and no one knows where to turn as everything becomes more divisive, Forever gives you some upbeat, feel-good music. Taking a more straight-ahead rock-n-roll approach than other newer Bon Jovi albums, there are some really cool tunes on here that will have you turning up the radio. Forever sees Bon Jovi settle into a solid kind of heartland rock not a million miles away from their fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen’s rugged approach. However, there are sonic flashes of the Bon Jovi of old that do pop up here and there. 

The song ‘Waves’ goes for the heroic 1980s rock sound that went so well with videos of men playing guitar on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and ‘Living Proof’ has enough killer riffs from the guitarist Phil X to make up for the loss of the founder member Richie Sambora. The song follows the long line of Bon Jovi singles from ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ to ‘It’s My Life’. However, ‘Living Proof’ is the song that reminds you that Bon Jovi were the greatest band in the world. The band, who in the shape of New Jersey released one of the finest hard rock album ever made. Forever is all rock songs and power ballads, and it’s a big-sounding record designed to be played to big rooms.



Forever is filled with ballads and midtempo anthems that would sound bigger on an adult contemporary station than an arena. The subdued nature is accentuated by Bon Jovi’s proud embrace of nostalgia, a sentiment that surfaces again on ‘My First Guitar.’ The song is a salute to the past in different ways, both fond and emotive rather than chest-beating. ‘Living In Paradise’ is another big chorus showpiece that grows in both momentum and feels. Despite the inevitable frequent glances over their collective shoulder given the anniversary year, Bon Jovi don’t seem content to live in the past. Bon Jovi’s voice may be a shadow of its former power, but with big choruses and heart-on-sleeve anthems, Bon Jovi’s new album makes no allowances.

Forever is an album by a band who has much to celebrate and nothing left to prove. The music here has a kind of open-road joy about it. Amid softer, acoustic-led material are jubilant anthems like ‘Walls Of Jericho’, the biggest-hearted, most openly singable Bon Jovi track for many years, a true foot stomper with an infectious hook. Especially good, and probably the best track here, is ‘Waves’, which has the hallmark Bon Jovi cues, acoustic guitars, reflective lyrics, and a rousing chorus that builds to a dizzying, raise-your-fist hook that will translate into any language live.

And there is one semi-surprise: ‘The People’s House’, a funky shimmy that captures the charitable spirt of Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen community restaurants in his native New Jersey: “Come in and leave your mind open/It’s time we let love in/Mother, father I am broken/Barely breathing, but I’m hoping/There’s forgiveness for my sins.” It’s a fantastic song with a powerful message.

At least one song on this album will truly be played forever, at least at wedding receptions. ‘Kiss The Bride’ is an ode to Jon’s soon to be married daughter, whom he first introduced to us as a 5-year-old in 2000′s ‘Got the Girl’. Fathers of daughters the world over will listen to this song and cry as it’s a true testament to Jon’s songwriting skills and his never ending ability to be a relatable frontman.

Anyone would love to have had the career that Bon Jovi have had, but their journey through different eras is something future music historians will view with great perplexity. How many times can a band be written off only for them to reinvent themselves and prove all their doubters wrong? Whether it’s early glam rock Jovi, soft rock Jovi, hard rock Jovi, ballad Jovi or country Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi and his merry men keep moving whereas their contemporaries pack up or stay put. Forever could be a much needed career reset once again for a band with an astonishing work-rate. Jon Bon Jovi previously said that he had to “work through a lot of dark misery” in order to get to a place where he could experience joy again. Indeed, you wouldn’t put it past Bon Jovi to simply go on forever after all. It has been a career which has turned them into one of the biggest bands of all time, so thank you Bon Jovi and now Jon if you wouldn’t mind, one more time… with feeling Forever!