Bon Jovi “Circle”

How do we want to spin this?  That few want Bon Jovi’s new music or NBC is in the crapper?

Yes, follow the stories.  NBC/Universal may end up being controlled by Comcast.  This has got more to do with Vivendi exercising an exit clause than NBC sucking, but the network does.  Blame it on Jay Leno at 10 or a general lack of creativity, but the ratings are terrible, the network is far-removed from the leaders of the pack, just like Bon Jovi is far-removed from the audience.

Jon Bon Jovi even did the Actors Studio.  I guess it speaks more to the lost credibility of James Lipton than the becoiffed one’s lack of a distinguished film career, but still…what’s next?  Bon Jovi suiting up for the Jets?  Or the New England Patriots?

You’ve got to give us a reason to care.  And most people don’t anyway.  So, you’re speaking to your core audience at most, and it turns out these people don’t want new Bon Jovi music, they just want to hear that Tommy used to work on the docks.

In case you missed the memo, "Circle", with all its shenanigans, the incredible hype, the $3.99 offer, sold 163,000 copies last week.  Which might sound somewhat impressive, since the album debuted at number one, but their 2007 country effort, "Lost Highway", also entered at the top of the chart, yet it sold 292,000 copies!  Meaning that even though they were selling out, being crass commercial marketers, going country was a better idea than playing the mainstream game.  Sure, sales have dropped in the past two years, but not THIS much!

Bon Jovi got it all wrong.  They should have put out ONE song.  Woodshed until they got one right.  Then licensed this one cut to the NFL or ESPN and had it banged ad infinitum.  Most of the NBC hype fell on deaf ears.  Today’s story is we avoid anything we’re not interested in.  We had to sit through Bon Jovi on MTV in the eighties, today we flip the channel or surf to another site.

Speaking of sites, Bon Jovi even advertised on!

Who took the band’s money?  Who is so out of touch with today’s market conditions?  In a time of upheaval you don’t play by the old rules, you revolt and do something completely new.  And believe me, lining up with a major TV network is positively last century.  That shotgun approach, hit everybody and hope they’re interested, leaves you with a ton of wasted impressions, people who don’t give a shit.

It’s all about the tour.  That’s where the money is.  So, I’d juice up the tour.  Whether it be by playing "Slippery When Wet" from start to finish, the only album people truly care about, or creating a live extravaganza like Kenny Chesney’s multi-bill stadium shows.  Every hair band come back to life!  You know the female Bon Jovi audience, the act’s main driver, loved Slaughter and Cinderella and Winger and White Lion too…

And where’s the online contest?  Find the right clues, and you get a song written just for you, the winner!

Where’s the promotional tour where you show up at diehard winners’ houses?  Yup, you compete online and then Jon and Richie show up unannounced, like the Publishers Clearing House, and perform "Wanted Dead Or Alive" in your living room.

And speaking of "Wanted Dead Or Alive"…  Where’s the live rendition from Phil, from "Deadliest Catch"?  With a video to match?  This barely alive skipper with a Marlboro habit should be featured, just like the song that leads off this series so well.

In other words, where’s the creativity?  Shit, Josh Freese got more ink and had more penetration of the public consciousness with one good idea than Bon Jovi achieved playing by the old rules.

Because creativity rules.  And when you get to superstar level, the acts are creatively bankrupt.  Just playing by the old rules, looking for a paycheck.  Even though so many broke the rules in order to achieve their success.

You’ve got to risk.  You’ve got to take chances.  You’ve got to realize we live in 2009, not 1989.

Used to be music was the cutting edge artistic medium.  Then, you had a better chance of seeing present-day reality in "Law & Order" than hearing it on a record album.  Shit, "South Park" still takes chances.  Why can’t Bon Jovi?

The best Bon Jovi bit of the last ten years, eclipsing all of their music, was their interview with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.  Why didn’t they have Triumph do their new interview?  Make a deal with YouTube to get it on the home page?

As for the album itself…  It may trigger a revenue-producing event, but it’s a circle jerk between the act and the label. It’s about music.  Create some music that we truly want to hear, that we can sink our teeth into.  Otherwise, it’s all just marketing.  And you can’t sell what the public doesn’t want.

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