“Blaze Of Glory”

’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Blaze Of Glory”

The sixteenth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Blaze Of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi, his first release as a solo artist. With his band, Jon was accustomed to the No. 1 spot, having reached it four times in the ’80s. Following “Blaze,” neither Jon nor Bon Jovi would return to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. However, unlike most ’80s bands, they stayed surprisingly relevant well into the ’90s, reaching as high as No. 4 with the beautiful ballad “Always” in 1994. They continued to hit the Top 40 throughout the ’00s, and still release new music and tour today.

“Blaze” was featured on the soundtrack to the Emilio Estevez film Young Guns II, about Billy The Kid. The song captures that defiant, Wild West tone, as Bon Jovi, who wrote the song, dramatically sings over a country-influenced instrumental bed. It’s extremely similar to the band’s 1987 hit “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” Extremely.

Let’s take a listen to “Blaze Of Glory”:

As a lyricist, Mr. Bon Jovi prefers to be direct and simple, which in some cases is a strength and in others a limitation. His music can come off either as the common man’s poetry, or trite, corny fluff. However, in the context of 1990 — a year when the hottest acts were Wilson Phillips, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey — “Blaze Of Glory” was an anomaly for appealing primarily to straight white men.

Was it dope? Even though it was a ripoff of “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and was featured in a critically panned film, this song benefited from preceding Grunge, meaning that audiences weren’t yet cynical about singalong storytelling like this. And the fact that Jon created this track outside his band gives it a lone-wolf characteristic that jibed well with the theme of the song.

Does it hold up? We don’t consider this Bon Jovi’s best work, but many consider “Blaze Of Glory” to be a classic rock anthem, and it’s probably among the more legitimate releases in that genre to emerge in 1990, which isn’t saying much. Its earworm chorus is memorable 25 years later, and it’s a good road-trip song. It’s a little annoying and not necessarily something we’d put on our playlist, but we respect it for what it is.

Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks

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blazeofglory
Jon Bon Jovi
“Blaze Of Glory”
1 week at No. 1, starting Sept. 8, 1990
Preceded by: “If Wishes Came True,” Sweet Sensation
Followed by: “Release Me,” Wilson Phillips

’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?

– John

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