The Worst Songs Ever Recorded: #32. “It’s My Life” – Bon Jovi (2000)

Jon Bon Jovi. Eternally handsome Jon Bon Jovi.

On my way to band practice one fine winter’s evening (where we congregate to make our own kind of garbage music) I switched on the radio in between CDs and on came…this.

Now, I’m not one of those people who counts himself as a “fan” of this band. I mean, their 80s output was half-decent, right? They had their share of emotional, bombastic and ultra dumb pop-rock power ballads to play at school dances; and fun songs about being an unemployed fucking loser in New Jersey during the 80s.

As the 80s died and the 90s rolled around, The Jon Bon Jovi Band was at a crossroads. (Interestingly, they would name an album “Crossroads” just a few years later. I hate myself for knowing this.)

During a period of inactivity following the success of New Jersey (1988), Jon (Bon Jovi) went through some things (probably), most notably a haircut (definitely). (This strategy would later be adopted by Metallica, with outstanding results.) I’m sure the other dudes were keeping busy somehow. One of them married Heather Locklear, so there’s that. (I’m trying here, guys)

Eventually, everyone (except Jon (Bon Jovi) was hurting for money (probably), so they guilted him (Jon) into getting the band back together. Their “comeback” record, “Keep The Faith” (1992) was a certified smash! It spawned an excessive amount of singles, and some of the cheesiest music videos of the era.

But sadly, and perhaps surprisingly, this was the beginning of the end of The Bon Jovi Group’s “Golden Age”. (No one calls it that)

After the enormous success of “KTF” the band just wasn’t able to follow that shit up with something that would keep the momentum going. I’m sure Jon Bon & The Jovi fans would tell me otherwise, but fuck them, amirite?

Even their original bass player, Alec John Such, had the good sense to quit the band around this time. The band still, to this day, struggles to find someone willing to play bass in Bon Jovi. (Bed Of Roses was a jam, though. Right?)

So anyway, the song’s on and I decide to tune in. I had heard the song as background music in the past, but this time, it was different. This time I paid attention. I listened to all of it. The intro, the verses, the choruses, the bridge and Richie Sambora’s toy that he stole from Peter Frampton.

Everything. I analyzed the lyrics. I paid attention to what that weirdo with the big curly blonde hair was doing on keyboards (not much). I took in what that drummer with the gloves was doing. All. Of. It.

And let me tell you, friend – this is absolutely, 100% one of the worst songs in the world. Everything about it, especially the desperation, is just awful. Let’s break it down. Follow me.

It’s My Life” was written by Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi and Max Martin. Max Fucking Martin. The man responsible for the music of Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and pretty much anything you’ve been hearing on pop radio since about 1994. Seriously – check out this fucking list of songs he’s written. He’s the devil! Cool dude!

Anyway, sonically this song sounds like everything else MM was doing at the time. Obviously, The Jon Bon Jovi Express wanted to stay current, to be able to compete with them younger jerks. And holy shit did they ever try hard. And you can tell. It’s palpable.

The lyrics.
Oh, man! First, they went back to the well and decided to bring back Tommy and Gina (from “Living On A Prayer“) for this song. Richie Sambora even dusted off that dumb guitar mouth tube thing. Nobody asked for any of it.
(Tommy and Gina could not be reached for comment)

This is a song for the broken hearted…
That’s the first line. Gross.
It’s emotional pandering at it’s worst. Later, he name drops Frank Sinatra, referring to him as “Frankie”, and the song most people associate with him (but written by Canadian Paul Anka) – “My Way“. Could you gently fuck off with that shit?

So far, we have The Jon Bons getting help writing a hit song/and whoring their past successes to do so. Then there’s the insincerity, the shameless pandering and, finally, exploiting a long-dead, iconic entertainment/mob figure who isn’t alive to object or defend himself. The lyrics are just fucking bad, OK?
I’ve already spent too much time on the lyrics. Let’s move on.

Then there’s the sound. Let me point out that other than the obnoxious ” bwonk bwonk “, I can’t really ” hear” the guitar, and that’s obviously a drum machine. The keyboards are just there making unnecessary, creepy ambient sounds in the background. In a way, I kind of feel bad for him (David Bryan – the freak with long blonde curly hair). This was a chance for him to finally shine. To make his presence known! He could have “slayed”! I have a feeling he’s not the one who actually played keyboards on this song, though. I’m not looking it up.

There’s lots of bass, but I highly doubt it required the presence of an actual bass player. (To my knowledge, The Jon Bon Jovi Group doesn’t even have a bass player.)

The Jon Bon Jovi Musical Composition Group LLC. , at this point, was done, OK? At least as a “band” (in the traditional sense). This was them finally putting a stop to this foolish idea of “giving a shit”. It was complete surrender.

For all the ways it sounds like the Backstreet Boys et al., it really just sounds like a cheap knock-off. An off-brand man band. And though it reeks of corporate desperation, I doubt these assholes were hurting for cash when they did this. Did the kids find that cool at the time? That these old dudes are trying to sneak in at their high school dance to desperately try to impress the kids with how “hip” and “with it” they are? It’s embarrassing.

It might have been fueled by egoism, poor decision-making and/or a Midas Complex. Who knows. Oh! And some money too, let’s not be silly now. But it happens to a lot of aging, aged, egomaniacal, at-one-time successful bands of a certain age. We see it all the time, don’t we?

So because it’s terrible in its conception, its composition, its execution, its positivity and uplifting “message” in its lyrics, “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi Ltd. is one of the worst songs ever recorded.

Honorable mention: “Have A Nice Day” (2005) In this jam, Jon Bon assumes the role of sassy middle-aged bitch.