They pit women against each other all of the time. So, the fact that Bon Jovi has always been called the “Poor Man’s Bruce Springsteen” has always been somewhat entertaining. But it’s also false. This isn’t to throw shade at Bruce Springsteen, who’s had a fantastic career and mostly great catalog of music.
Bon Jovi can’t come even close to matching Bruce Springsteen as a performer, and ticket sales prove this. As Entertainment Weekly reveals, Springsteen has several of the biggest grossing tours of all-time. And let’s be honest — a four-hour Bon Jovi concert becomes a huge yawn-fest, while Springsteen is one of the few performers who can get away with performing so long.
But let’s put their musical catalog side by side. Bon Jovi has had more hit singles, has sold more albums, and they are still played more on the radio. Bon Jovi has earned four No. 1 singles — “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Bad Medicine,” and “I’ll Be There for You.” Now, let’s list Springsteen’s No. 1 songs. Oh, wait, there aren’t any. However, one can argue that chart positions never mattered as much for Springsteen. For example, “Born to Run” and “Streets of Philadelphia” are considered classics, but neither hit the top five on Billboard‘s Hot 100.
Now, let’s talk about chart relevance. Bruce Springsteen’s last hit (and it wasn’t really a big one) was “Secret Garden,” which hit No. 19 in early 1997. Though it is an amazing record (perhaps the best Springsteen song of the 1990s), it flopped when it was released in 1995. It only became a mini hit when featured in the hit movie Jerry Maguire.
Bon Jovi’s status as hit makers goes beyond 1997. In fact, “It’s My Life” (2000), “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” (2006), and “You Want to (Make a Memory)” (2007) were all top 40 hits. And while Bruce Springsteen’s career absolutely stalled in the early 1990s, Bon Jovi was releasing such hit songs as “Bed of Roses” (1993), “In These Arms” (1994), and “Always” (1994).
Perhaps the main reason Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi have been compared is because both acts are New Jersey artists who have gone on to become great phenomenons. But they really are different, especially when it comes to critical acclaim. Bruce Springsteen has received unanimous acclaim, while Bon Jovi has (unfairly) received critical derision. But why can’t we celebrate both?
As Rolling Stone announced on Wednesday morning, Bon Jovi has finally been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, even though they’ve been eligible since 2008. The New Jersey band has finally received recognition for all of their accomplishments. They are no longer the “Poor Man’s Bruce Springsteen,” and they never were in the first place.