Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” Lyrics Meaning

The theme upon which Bon Jovi’s classic hit track “You Give Love a Bad Name” is based is age-old songwriting material. It is centered on the singer’s romance with a toxic partner, i.e. one who regularly mistreats him. But it is the unique and forceful way which Bon Jovi is putting this point across that has made this song a hit.

In fact the original title of the tune was “Shot Through the Heart”. And likewise in “You Give Love a Bad Name”, the vocalist likens his lover to “a loaded gun”. But that being said, it is clear he is in fact in “love”, as he apparently does not have the wherewithal to actually separate himself from her despite being mistreated.

And perhaps we can say he’s too to blame, as he was initially deceived by her completely-false “angel’s smile” and “shy” mannerisms. But doing so would be like blaming the victim, for he has ‘played his part’ in this relationship. However, what he had received in return was she ‘playing games’. And the metaphors he uses to describe these actions allude to, as pointed out earlier, him being physically, even mortally, wounded.

So ultimately, what he is saying is that this lover ‘gives love a bad name’. Or another way of looking at this statement is that the way she has wrecked his heart has made him lose faith in the concept of romantic relationships altogether.

Lyrics of “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi

Facts about “You Give Love a Bad Name”

This classic is based on a revised sample of a track songstress Bonnie Tyler dropped in 1986 entitled “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)”.

That particular song was written by Desmond Child. And he also co-wrote “You Give Love a Bad Name” with Jon Bon Jovi and his band mate, Richie Sambora.

The song was written in the home of Richie Sambora’s mother. It was originally intended to be used by a Canadian group called Loverboy.

Wayne Isham, a music-video director whose been in the game since the early 1980s, handled the official video for “You Give Love a Bad Name”.

The music video, which features the band jamming on stage, contributed significantly to the success of this song due to it being featured regularly on MTV.

As aforementioned this track is a classic, having topped the Billboard Hot 100 and charting in almost 15 other counties. It also achieved Gold status in Canada, Denmark, Italy and the UK.

“You Give Love a Bad Name” is the lead single Bon Jovi released from their “Slippery When Wet” album. The song was released by Mercury Records on 23 July 1986. It should be mentioned that “Slippery When Wet” also featured the hit single “Livin’ on a Prayer”.

The entire album was recorded in Canada. Likewise the producer of “You Give Love a Bad Name” was a Canadian musician, Bruce Fairbairn.

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