The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins Calls For A “Stop” To Bon Jovi

The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins Calls For A “Stop” To Bon Jovi
Original Photo Credits: Justin Hawkins - (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEAXZn1cmbQ) | Jon Bon Jovi - slgckgc, CC BY 2.0 (www.flickr.com/photos/slgc/33984805566/in/photostream/), via Wikimedia Commons

Iconic New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi has come under criticism recently for a series of subpar live vocal performances where it appears he’s having trouble hitting the notes to classic songs despite the music being down-tuned to help his voice. Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins films an often humorous YouTube series, “Justin Hawkins Rides Again,” where he shares a mix of musician analysis and hot takes for more than 120,000 subscribers. Recently, Hawkins weighed in on performances from Jon Bon Jovi at a tour stop in Nebraska. 

“My career is not as long as Jon Bon Jovi’s, and not as big as well,” Hawkins said. “Even at the level that we’ve experienced, if you’re in a situation like that and you can’t deliver the goods and you can’t give your audience what they deserve, that’s horrible — it’s a horrible feeling — and you don’t enjoy touring in that condition; you just wanna go home. And I expect he’s feeling the same way, really. But there must be a huge machine around Bon Jovi that stops him from being able to pull the plug on it, really, which is what needs to happen, I think. I mean, I’m not talking about pull the plug forever.”

Hawkins went on to say he felt the problem might be psychological. “It sounds like he needs some kind of therapy. And I think a lot of the time, a situation like that… It doesn’t sound like it’s a polyp or some sort of lump on his vocal cords ’cause that would be more unpredictable — he would be hitting the notes and then it would squeak off and it would do something unexpected. You know that sort of sound when you’re entering puberty and your voice becomes unpredictable. Sometimes when you have a growth or a lump on your vocal cords, it can cause that kind of… Unexpected things happen to your voice. Even if you’re an experienced singer and you can just hold a note, it will squeak off when you’re not expecting it, and it’s very hard to sing around those things.”

“But that’s not what’s happening here. This sounds like he’s super tired. Everything’s [tuned] down, but he’s still… You have to sing a lot with an adjusted key like that to find the sort of muscle memory in your vocal cords anyway, but he’s struggling with that, not because it’s low; it’s just ’cause he’s tired. And I think he’s psychologically… I don’t know… It sounds like something he’s gonna need some therapy with — actually talk to somebody and try and coax the performances back out. It doesn’t sound to me like there’s damage in there. I’m not a doctor but I’ve experienced voice problems before. And to hold a note with it being off key suggests some pitching issues that might be to do with hearing as well.” 

“It’s not fun to watch this and it isn’t fun to regard one of the greats. He’s a great singer — he always has been — but this sounds like something is eating away at him from the inside. And I don’t think it’s a voice injury; I think it’s more of something like a manifestation of performance anxiety that’s stopping him from delivering his trademark Gale Force 10 mega vocal that you need on these huge tracks, these anthemic mega hits. And I feel like the people around him need to tell him to stop. “It saddens me to see it,” Justin added. “I’m sure we’re all disappointed.”

Bon Jovi’s vocals at his April 3 concert in Minnesota were called “shockingly poor” in a review from the Pioneer Press. “He wasn’t just butchering the older stuff, which the band now plays in a lower key, but the fresh material as well… Quite frankly, it felt like he had forgotten how to sing.”

The Darkness’ latest album, “Motorheart,” was released late last year, and the band just wrapped up a tour of the United States. 

B.J. Lisko
Follow B.J.

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