Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
The song Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi was the third single to come off the band’s third album Slippery When Wet, which was released in 1986 (DevinG, 2012). It was written by band members Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and was so titled because of Jon Bon Jovi’s great admiration for cowboys, whom he could relate to as being hated. It talked about the lonely life of a rock star and was based on their touring experiences (“Wanted Dead or Alive,” n.d.), especially while they were still starting. Back then, they would play to anybody who was willing to listen. In addition, the song was inspired by Bob Heger’s Turn the Page, which made Jon Bon Jovi feel he had to write a similar song (Balynce, 2008).
Wanted Dead or Alive was the third single off the album to reach Billboard’s Top Ten List, which in turn made Slippery When Wet the first hard rock album to have three songs reach the top ten in Billboard’s Hot 100 (DevinG).
The main musical influences of Bon Jovi include musical acts like Judas Priest, AC/DC, Bad Company, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Kiss, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Tom Watts (“Influences on Bon Jovi,” 2012).
It is said that the origin of rock and roll cannot be exactly pinpointed, as it is a cultural phenomenon (“History of Rock & Roll,” 2012) that evolves through time. It can be said, however, that it originated from slavery (Townsend, n.d.) and started out as black music, which the blacks used to ease their depression and their physical suffering. Rock and roll was a hybrid of African-American music, which the early rock and roll singers His Comets and Bill Haley modeled on blues and rhythm records (“The Golden Decade,” n.d.).
Indeed, rock and roll has undergone a lot of changes throughout the years, with the evolution of various genres. These genres include punk-rock; the blank generation; the British Graffiti; the American Graffiti; the dance music for punks; industrial music; and hardcore (Stilo, 2010). Throughout this music evolution, rock and roll has gained the reputation of being spontaneous, rebellious, and even dangerous.
While the rest of the rock world -- particularly that in the heavy metal genre and especially in Europe -- was enshrouded in violence and had a dark reputation, heavy metal in the US during the ‘80s mainly took on the form of a pop-metal crossover (Stilo), which peaked in the mid-eighties with the band Bon Jovi, “a band that coined a magniloquent style” (Stilo).
Bon Jovi’s metal pop sound can be considered a merging of “Def Leppard’s loud but tuneful metal with Bruce Springsteen’s working-class sensibilities” (“Bon Jovi Biography,” 2012). While some of their songs have a hard rock feel to them, they’re also famous for their powerful ballads, some of which even have a tinge of country. Their music is characterized as a professional and melodic version of hard rock that appeals to a wider audience. It is through bands like Bon Jovi that the music once appreciated only by teenagers who sought to be different from their parents’ generation became more acceptable to the point of being ubiquitous.
One by Bono and Mary J. Blige
The writer chose the song One by Bono and Mary J. Blige whose video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpDQJnI4OhU. It is the writer’s opinion that this song is truly artistic due to the ambiguity and profoundness of its message where each listener can have their own interpretation of the song. However, no matter what that interpretation may be, it’s bound to be something that leaves a strong impression on the listener.
For the writer, a general meaning of the song would be about unity and diversity, that is, we should be more accepting of each other’s differences. As Bono himself said, “It’s not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It’s a reminder that we have no choice” (Doyle, 2009). The line We're one, but we're not the same carries a strong and universal message that states how we are still one despite our many differences.
Although originally written and recorded by U2 in 1992, a version with Mary J. Blige was performed and recorded in 2005, which the writer believes speaks further of the song’s message of unity despite our differences. U2 was a rock band while Mary J. Blige was an R&B and hip-hop singer, but somehow they were able to combine their different musical styles to come up with a single musical masterpiece.
The song has different interpretations for listeners, but aside from the message of unity amidst diversity, some of the popular meanings associated to it are forgiveness, the fight against AIDS, and a reflection on spiritual values. These messages were particularly spurred on by the music videos that were created for the song. One depicted a gay son making a confession to his father about being infected with HIV. Another video showed flowers and buffalos; and the third video showed Bono in a bar, drinking beer and smoking a cheroot. It is also noteworthy that majority of the proceeds of the song’s original recording was donated to AIDS charities.
U2’s music was greatly influenced by the music of such rock legends as David Bowie, The Ramones, punk rock, John Lennon, The Who, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles (“Influences on U2,” 2012). Bono admitted, though, that it was John Lennon’s Imagine that stirred the passion for music in him. It gave him ideas of the various possibilities. Bob Dylan’s acoustic albums and a Beatles songbook, on the other hand, got him started on learning the guitar.
It is also evident how U2’s music is rich with political, social, and even religious messages where they sing about drug addiction, terrorism, governmental oppression, and social injustices (McGee, n.d.). Some of their songs also question faith and this could be due to their Christian beliefs, given that all but one of the U2 members actively participates in Christian activities in their communities.
Throughout their music career, U2 has experimented a lot with their music where they always tried to reinvent themselves and find ways to sound different. For example, in their album Achtung Baby, U2 incorporated electronic dance beats, altered vocals, feedback, and industrial guitars into the mix. They even toyed with the idea of incorporating the electronic sounds of bands such as The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy into their music. Also notable are the dance and electronic influences in their album Pop. It was only recently that they returned to creating their original mainstream U2 sound.
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