Bon Jovi’s new album covers the many challenges faed in 2020

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Ocean Way Recording

   Four years after their last release, “This House Is Not For Sale”, rock band Bon Jovi has come out with a new album. Titled “2020”, from frontman Jon Bon Jovi’s feeling of clear vision and it being a United States election year, this album is full of political and social themes. True to their past style, “2020” has the same rock ‘n’ roll feeling as hits “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Runaway,” but very different lyrically.

   Right from the start of the album, “Limitless” sets the theme with a powerful, hard-rock sound, and the music video goes perfectly with it. It is a song about breaking free and going beyond personal limits. The video features a couple who escape from a job that they are compelled to work at. When they escape, their supervisor chases the couple and tries to bring them back, but he ultimately fails.

   “Do What You Can” originated on Bon Jovi’s Instagram, where he invited his fans to make their own lyrics based on their own experiences. They could sing along with him and fill in the blank space he made or figure out the chords and play themselves. Fan’s versions can be found on Instagram in the hashtag Bon Jovi created, “#dowhatyoucan.” The version released on 2020 is his own lyrics. The deluxe album includes another version of the song with lead singer of country music band Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles, as a bonus track.

   “American Reckoning” is softer and chilling, and focuses on the killing of George Floyd. The pre choruses say “I can’t breathe,” which were Floyd’s last words, and “Am I next?” which is written on an African-American child’s sign at a protest.

   “Beautiful Drug” goes back to the hard rock sound. It’s the closest to a love song on the album. In light of COVID-19, the song describes love as a medicine. In the song’s metaphor, the love-drug is described to heal and help; though like any drug, it is addictive and can hurt. 

   “Story of Love” is a reminiscent acoustic tune about family. It’s nostalgic of a younger age and either the parents’ love for their children or the child’s longing to be young again. Lyrics like “A snap of the finger and you’re not a child / But you’re still holding on as you walk down the aisle” show how quickly time went by for the muse of the song.

   Much like the first two tracks,“Let It Rain” paints a picture of sad times, but it sings of motivation and things getting better. It is more of a power ballad than the others, but it also sings of prejudice and how someday it will be over.

   “Lower the Flag” is inspired by different shootings in multiple cities. It bears resemblance to “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, which influenced Bon Jovi’s writing of the song. “Lower the Flag” is acoustic, and paired with the lyrics, it is the most moving song on the album. The song describes how the media treats shootings and how quickly they have moved on to the next one. The bridge contains names of famous shootings spoken over the chant “If there’s something we can talk about, let’s talk about it / If there’s something we can figure out let’s figure it out,” which is powerful over the instrumental backing. 

   “Blood in the Water” touches the topic of immigration into the US and the troubles immigrants face. It is sung from an immigrant’s point of view. 

   “Brothers In Arms” is another song about togetherness and being united. It has a bluesy sound and the lyrics go along with that, since it sings of hard times. 

   “Unbroken” pays tribute to the military and life being a vetaran. Sung from a soldier’s point of view, it goes through enlistment, fighting, and the return to civilian life. In the dark theme of the album, this song deals with PTSD and the high rate of suicide among veterans.

   The “2020” deluxe edition also contains two more bonus tracks: “Shine,” a true love song, and “Luv Can,” another song about love fixing things. They were written before the COVID-19 pandemic, and replaced by tracks two and three on the standard edition of the album.

   Although Bon Jovi’s voice has gotten hoarser over the years, most of the album is soft and sad, but it does churn out hard-rock anthems that are typical of the band’s style. “2020” has gotten mixed reviews, mostly because of fans upset over the original guitarist’s departure from the band for unspecified personal reasons in 2013 and the political themes surrounding the album. For die-hard fans of Bon Jovi, the album is a contrast from the band’s discography.