2020 is Bon Jovi’s take on the current turmoil of America in the last several months. Their 15th studio album, it touches on politics, unity, and the pandemic.
The record starts slowly with ‘Limitless’. A song that seems to want to be uplifting, ‘Limitless’ is decent but does not do what it appears to have set out to accomplish. 2020 follows suit of the year that inspired it to continue into another downer. ‘Do What You Can’ is just too slow for its own good. It feels as though Bon Jovi is just talking to the listener; the music hardly adds anything. When hearing the first few notes of the song, it sounds like something off of Taylor Swift’s self-titled record is beginning.
‘American Reckoning’ while politically charged, is one of the better songs on the record.
‘Beautiful Drug’ is just what 2020, the record and the year, needed: a song about love. The song preaches that what the world needs most right now is a little bit of love and compassion. The song begins to really feel like a Bon Jovi song at the 2:10 mark with a guitar solo making the song stand out. From ‘Beautiful Drug’ 2020 moves to’ Story of Love’, which sounds SO familiar. It feels like the vast majority of 80’s rock ballads; coincidentally, this seems to be Bon Jovi’s specialty. The song proves that he has not lost his touch after 15 albums.
‘Lower The Flag’ and ‘Blood in the Water’ are both slow and politically charged. 2020 moves on from those into ‘Brothers in Arms’, a song that is still politically charged, but feels more like what fans can expect a Bon Jovi song to feel like. The song is a message of unity, which is what American needs: to come together despite our differences. The closer of the album ‘Unbroken’ is about being a soldier; the song is about the hardships that come with serving your country. It feels strangely patriotic in comparison to the rest of the record.
Overall the record does not feel like Bon Jovi. Artists grow and change their style over the years, especially when their career spans multiple decades, but 2020 simply does not feel like Bon Jovi. There are a few moments, such as the guitar solo in ‘Beautiful Drug’, that gives the listener a distinct feeling that they are listening to Bon Jovi. The record, while clearly made well and is sonically sound, does not have his typical energy. The topics of the record are somber and reflective, so the listener cannot expect to be able to jam out to 2020, but they should expect more from one of the greatest rock stars of the 1980s. 2020 is not a record that leaves listeners wanting to hear more; instead, it will have listeners reaching for Slippery When Wet the next time they want to listen to Bon Jovi.