Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's in next: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi - Round 3

Popeye to Joe Elliott: I smell what you're cooking.
The battle rages on: Def Leppard's "Adrenalize" takes on Bon Jovi's "New Jersey" in a winner-gets-in-the-Rock-Hall death match. This is Round 3, Track 3: "Make Love Like A Man" vs. "Born To Be My Baby."

"Make Love Like A Man":

G.E. Smith: "Make love like a man. I'm a man. That's what I am." These are the Popeye-esque words that propel the chorus of the third track on the follow-up to one of the biggest albums of all time. This is kind of a problem, because the third slot tends to be a pretty prominent spot on an album, not just because IT'S THE THIRD SONG ON AN ALBUM but because there's a precedent that's been set: On Led Zeppelin's "IV," it was the kind-of-silly but kind-of-epic "Battle of Evermore." On The Doors' classic self-titled debut, it was "The Crystal Ship," weak-ass by Doors' standards but transcendent compared to, say, Muse. Then there's "Come As You Are" ("Nevermind"), "Life In The Fast Lane" ("Hotel California") and so on.

Here, however, the Leps have put a real toilet-clogger right up in the front of the pile. It would be like the horrid 1987 Chicago Cubs moving part-time starter Ed Lynch (2-9, 5.38 ERA) to the top of their rotation ahead of ace Rick Sutcliffe (18-10, 3.68 ERA). Actually, it'd be like putting Harry Caray's corpse ahead of Sutcliffe.

"MLLAM": the Ed Lynch of "Adrenalize."
I've avoided talking about the actual song here, but that's because doing so is like taking a stick and looking underneath a dead bird that's been sitting around for 12 days. You got your cowbell, you've got your mentions of gigolos, you've got your pointless midsections where Joe Elliott begs, "Gimme some rock and roll! A little bit of rock and roll!" and you find this request sincere, because there is zero rock and roll going on here.

Truly four minutes and 13 seconds of the worst music ever conceived and recorded.

RATING: .01 out of 10.

Michael Anthony: Sigh, I guess it wouldn't be right to just skip this one.

Being a Lep Lover, this is like seeing my dad go up against Mike Tyson circa 1986. It's like Glass Joe against Little Mac, with the once-mighty pop-metal singles machine Def Leppard playing the role of the undermatched, light-hitting, glass-jawed dope who gets knocked out with one punch to a 110-pound child.

Seriously, what happened to these guys? Once capable of hammering out quality meatheaded buttrock riffola (everything from this to this to this would fit the bill) - solidly written, even somewhat complex tunes, complete with their own wit, personality, and sexist charm - this is what they've been reduced to?

"Make Love Like A Man"? More like "Make Songs Like A PIECE OF SHIT", am I right?

To blame: Phil Collins or Phil Collen?
People like to give Nirvana credit for ushering in serious, introspective (and bad) alt-rock and forcing all the lame, unserious arena-rockers out of the public consciousness, but I blame this horrible song and video (also, any Van Halen video released in the 90's).

Hey, "Make Love Like A Man" - thanks for ruining pop music forever!

0.F (out of 10)

"Born To Be My Baby"

G.E. Smith: Man, I sure hope you aren't serving up some home cooking for your fellow Garden State boys. But whether the hometown pride is there or not, this tune is definitely worthy of Goodwill or the Salvation Army and not the outright dump like the rest of this landfill of music. The na-na-na's are cool but definitely hackneyed, and it seems like a cheap trick for a maestro like Desmond Child to yank out of his pants.

I always thought the video for the tune, where they show the boys working hard behind the scenes, and isolate the vocal tracks, was kind of cool. But look at it now:

Still, there are some puke-worthy moments here. It totally rips the underneath harmony from the verse of "You Give Love A Bad Name," and lyrically the story goes right back to the same kind of story where Tommy's working on the docks and Gina working at the diner all day in "Livin' On A Prayer." And then the pre-chorus seems to be in a totally different key than the verse, and then the chorus is ok again. It's almost as if they couldn't come up with something, reached into a batch of tape and threw something in there to create a bridge. Why ruin a song that's only slightly odorous and spray it with a scent that crosses skunk with burnt hair?

Rating: 4.5 out of 10.

Mystery solved: Here's what Dez looks like.
Michael Anthony: This is the sound of Hall-worthy* hired gun Desmond Child running out of steam. It's still better than most songwriters can manage on their best day, but the formula is starting to show its age. Could be why there's that awkward, forced key change that G.E. mentioned earlier. It's kind of cool that he was trying something somewhat unique, and I suppose in a way it makes the song more memorable, but it's not very subtle, and again - do we want creativity and artistic leaps in a Bon Jovi song? No, we want the balls-out hairband pop of "Living On A Prayer" and "You Give Love A Bad Name". Clearly these guys had a hard time living up to the pressure of those mammoth hits, and wilted into generic balladeers and eventually even adult contemporary country "stars". Yikes!

Still, it's got more style and melody than what we've heard so far off the limp "New Jersey," and it kicks the crap out of a putrid offering from Def Leppard. Hand another one to the Jersey Boys.

5.69 (out of 10)

* Turns out Child is in this Hall.


  1. Wow, Desmond Child's twin: