#OTD in November 1988: Bon Jovi Returns to No. 1 with "Bad Medicine"

Paul Natkin/Getty Images
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Paul Natkin/Getty Images

If the 1986 Slippery When Wet pushed the 80's pop-metal band onto the cusp of mainstream stardom, then their next and fourth album New Jersey transformed Bon Jovi into rock icons two years later. 

"Bad Medicine" was the lead single from the 1988 album, marking the shift of the arena rocker's hard rock past towards a pop melody grounded on a consistent rock groove. Landing the band their third Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 scorcher, the song had enough keyboard-driven speed and drum beat to maintain the satisfaction of head-banging rock while also attracting mainstream fans with its upbeat, strong pop chorus. 

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child, the song was the third brainchild of the trio's string of hits, including "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Livin' On A Prayer." Guitarist Sambora detailed their songmaking process to Musicradar.comrevealing that "[His approach to songwriting with Jon Bon Jovi] has not [changed over the years.] It's very, very simplistic. We sit down with a couple of acoustics or at a piano, and we believe that you can't polish bulls--t. If I sang 'Livin' On A Prayer' or 'Wanted' or 'I'll Be There For You' or 'Bad Medicine' with nothing, a cappella, you would say, 'Hey, that's a good song.' And that's basically what it comes down to."

Jon further cemented the song's success by approaching the concept of the music video with innovation. He wanted to shoot a live music video, but he handed off the video creation process by distributing handheld cameras to 250 fans. He told NME, "We told them to film whatever they wanted, and if it was good, we'd use it in the video....I was hoping they'd goof off a bit more, that they'd take the cameras out in the hallways and film their shoes, go film anything they wanted plus the stage." 

As a result, many kids involved in the video showed up with their equipment, including lights, trusses, tripods, even assistants, incentivized by Jon's promise that the ten people with the best footage could join the band on the road in California that year. 

There were two resulting music video for the song, one featuring the band live in concert and the more popular, other video that begins with comedian Sam Kinison hyping the concertgoers waiting in line to make an exceptionally better Bon Jovi video, screaming at the crowd, "Is this gonna be the same video slop that we always get from these glam rock pretty boys?... Is this gonna be the same kind of video we always get from you guys?"

 

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The song climbed to #4 on the Hot 100.

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