You Give Love A Bad Name

Album: Slippery When Wet (1986)
Charted: 14 1
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Songfacts®:

  • In 1984, Bon Jovi reached #39 in the US with "Runaway," from their debut, self-titled album. The band was big in the New Jersey area, but got little attention elsewhere. The group was signed by a Polygram Records executive named Derek Shulman, who told us, "I saw the drive and the ambition of Jon Bon Jovi, despite the fact that he could only sing five notes and most of them out of tune."

    For the band to break through, Shulman thought the key was big choruses, and the man to deliver that was Desmond Child, who worked with Kiss on "I Was Made For Lovin' You." Child got together with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, and the trio got to work. In our interview with Desmond Child, he said: "The very first day we got together we wrote 'You Give Love a Bad Name.' Then a few weeks later we wrote 'Livin' On A Prayer.' It was a magical collaboration and there was instant chemistry between us."

    Child later teamed up with Jon and Richie for many more Bon Jovi songs, including "Born To Be My Baby" and "Keep The Faith." He went on to write hits for many other artists, including Cher, Aerosmith, and Ricky Martin.
  • Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Richie Sambora wrote this in the basement of Sambora's mother's house in New Jersey. Child came up with the title, and Jon immediately thought up the first line ("Shot through the heart..."). From there, they put the rest of the song together, with "Shot Through The Heart" as the working title. The song ended up being about a guy whose girlfriend is really bad for him - common material, but a very interesting way to say it. Jon Bon Jovi dated actress Diane Lane in the mid-'80s, and there were rumors that she was the inspiration for this song, but the lyrical inspiration was more of a universal feeling.
  • At one point, this was intended for the group Loverboy. Bon Jovi and Sambora started out writing it for them, but liked it so much they kept it for themselves.
  • Bon Jovi's video for their first single, "Runaway," was a conceptual clip with lots of smoke and a young girl portraying the title character. It didn't catch on, so for "You Give Love A Bad Name" the band made a straight-on performance video showcasing their charisma and live energy. This one was a winner on MTV, which played the clip constantly and helped send the song to the top of the charts.
  • Bon Jovi's follow-up single, "Livin' On A Prayer," was also a #1 hit, spending four weeks at the top spot while "Bad Name" spent just one. Desmond Child also helped write and produce that one.
  • The Slippery When Wet album was recorded in Vancouver with producer Bruce Fairbairn, who had a studio there. At first, the album was going to be called Wanted (after the song "Wanted Dead Or Alive"), but when they tried a photo shoot with an Old West theme, it didn't track.

    Needing a new title and theme, inspiration struck at a strip club they went to after recording sessions: the No. 5 Orange club in the Gastown district, which had a shower to water the dancers. A shoot was set up at a beach in New Jersey where the band washed cars with girls dressed in T-shirts with the album title, and not much else. A shot of one of these ladies was planned for the cover, but it proved too risqué, so they ended up using a shot of a wet garbage bag with the title written on it in marker - that was Jon Bon Jovi's idea.
  • In 2005, this became a #1 hit in Poland when the Polish singer Mandaryna recorded it.
  • Blake Lewis performed this in 2007 on Season 6 of American Idol, incorporating beatboxing into the song. The judges loved it, and Lewis performed it again on the season finale. Lewis came in second to Jordin Sparks. Lewis' version of the song was released as a single, and made #19 US. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR, for above 2
  • In The Office episode "Money" from season 4, Dwight plays this on the recorder when he's depressed over his breakup with Angela. It was also used in these TV shows:

    Family Guy ("Stewie Is Enceinte" - 2015)
    Glee ("Transitioning" - 2013)
    The Vampire Diaries ("Graduation" - 2013)
    30 Rock ("Floyd" - 2010)
    How I Met Your Mother ("The Limo" - 2005)
    The Sopranos ("A Hit Is A Hit" - 1999)

Comments: 38

  • Ronsha from New JerseyI don't watch How I Met Your Mother, but I remember they were all jamming to this song while in some car, and it was almost the new year. It was the craziest episode I'd seen from that show. LOL. I knew this song wayyy before I even knew this show existed, but it was great to know that some 2000s TV characters were fans of Bon Jovi
  • Josh from Tumwater This song is about cheating and heartbreaks
    I didn’t like the c minor chord until I discover perform in concert in b minor chord
  • Bridget from CoSo this is about women who are dangerous, deceptive, or evil... huh I can relate a little bit. I'm still in school, and 1/2 the time I like someone, I probably should not because the circumstances are strange or they can be mean.
  • Jennifur Sunjust heard this song last week by a young man who plays guitar, bass, keys and drums, called Wings Of Pegasus HE ROCKS and so does the young lady who plays drums on it. Loved his version better then the original.
  • Patrick from Wahiawa, HiThis song popped up on the 3/15/2020 "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" episode. Max, "Mr. All I Do Is Win" has been put off by the Hippie ways of his girlfriend, Summer, and breaks up with her. When Max and Zoe drop by for their usual caffeine hit at the local coffee shop, Summer breaks into this song with "force of nature fury" with her co-workers. (It was NOT "a mutual agreement breakup" after all.;)
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1986 {November 8th} a video of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" was aired on the ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #7 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, three weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 1 week}, and it spent twenty four weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 in both Canada and the Netherlands...
    Between 1984 and 2009 the New Jersey band had twenty six records on the Top 100 chart, nine made the Top 10 with four reaching #1...
    Besides the above "You Give Love A Bad Name", their three other #1 records were "Livin' On A Prayer" for 4 weeks in February of 1987, "Bad Medicine" for 2 weeks in November of 1988, and "I'll Be There For You" for 1 week in May of 1989...
    One of their twenty six charted records was a duet, with Jennifer Nettles, "Who Says You Can't Go Home" reached #23 on the Top 100 and on April 30th, 2006 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    John Francis Bongiovi Jr. will celebrate his 58th birthday come next March 2nd, 2020...
  • Gino from HoustonBon Jovi outsmarted on the New Jersey album. I told him to name the album Bad Medicine, but he went ahead and named the album New Jersey anyway.
  • Gino from HoustonZAK is right - Bon Jovi gives music a bad name along with the music industry. This is from the original Desmond Child who never received the 2% fee owed to me.
  • Gino from HoustonI am the original Desmond Child, and I named the album Slippery When Wet. Go figure because again this title came from the Memorial City package pickup/lounge/catalog area. Hot buns were slippery. The whole darn area became slippery.
  • Gino from HoustonI am the original Desmond Child, and it was Livin on a Prayer that Bon Jovi said was a Loverboy tune and not You Give Love a Bad Name. We came up with the tune You Give Love a Bad Name at the Memorial City package pickup/catalog/lounge area. Yes, the song was written in one night. It was about a chic/super-chic/possessed girl you could just tell was going to be all wrong with her motives.
  • Billy from Nederland , TxMy science teacher started singing the chorus to this in class. That woke me up!Then a girl was asking him why he was singing Bon Jovi. I don't know which one was was weirder: my teacher singing or the fact people my age other than me know who Bon Jovi is.
  • Tt from Columbia, Scthis is another timeless hit we could be 80 and still be jaming to Jon !
  • Tony from Plainfield, IlHas anyone heard this song backwards? Theres some interesting lyrics in the verses especially. I'm sure it was Desmond, since this is what hes been known to do. The term is called Backwards Masking. Alledgedly its subliminal.
  • Bob from Owen Sound, Onthough i like this song, i must say that i prefer Blake Lewis' version of this more. still a good though.
  • Ty from Winnipeg, MbThe Atreyu version of this song, is so sweet.
  • Kassi from Rosenberg, TxBON JOVI ROCKS! *looks at zak*
  • Jessica from Oxford, United KingdomThe Atreyu version of this is awful!
  • Louise from Newcastle, --This song isn't bad, but I think Bon Jovi released better ones.
  • Jake from Columbia City, InZak, you have no clue what you're talking about. Bon Jovi OWNS!!!
  • Michael from Morris County, NjZak, you give THE HUMAN RACE a bad name
  • Sofija from Novi Sad, SerbiaDo they really, zak? Than how did they sell over 120 000 000 albums?
    !BON JOVI 4EVER!
  • Flor from Setubal, Portugalzak, you're an ass
  • Pougff from Manchester, MsZak you are totally wrong!
  • Sam from Y Do U Care, Nyzac from ganisville FL stfu u give music and love a bad name [hes the 1st comment if u were wonderin ppl]
  • Prayerash from Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaI loved this! I'd always feel like screaming my lungs out to those who cheated their lover. Mine, for that matter.
  • Krisin Krause from Houtzdale, PaIlove that episode of How I Met Your Mother. That's my favorite show.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjBeing from jersey, I am a born Bon Jovi fan!! he rocks and so does this song!!!!
  • Caitlin from A City, NcThis song was played heavily during an episode of CBS's hit "How I Met Your Mother," where You Give Love a Bad Name was on a mix tape the characters loved.
  • Billy Ross from Hagerstown, Mdatreyu also covered this for their album The Curse
  • Patti from Sewell, NjYou Give Love a Bad Name was written about Richie's fiance who broke up with him. The song I'll Be There for you was also written for her (obviously during better times).
  • Imran from Petaling Jaya, MalaysiaNice solo and tremolo use, Mr. Sambora.
  • Steph from Manchester, EnglandSorry i mean if 'You give love a bad name came first. Duh!
  • Steph from Manchester, EnglandBon Jovi rock!!!
    I wonder of somebody out there could clear something up for me though. The album 'Slippery When Wet' was released in 1986. Before this there was an album released in 1984 just called 'Bon Jovi'. On this album there is a song called 'Shot Through The Heart' (great song btw). Above it says that they were gooing to call 'You give love a bad name' this. Is there any link between the two songs? Which was written first? If 'Shot through the heart' came first why was it not put on the first album alongside 'Runaway'?
  • Julia from London, Englandi heard that this song was written about Diane Lane whom Jon briefly dated in 1985
  • Madison from Atlanta, Gabon jovi is my passion! and he isnt supposed to igve love a bad name, the girl he's singing to does. he's married to his highschool sweetheart.
  • Ray from Jackson, NjJon Bon Jovi hosted a multi-million doller fundraiser for wishy washy supposed presidential candidate John Kerry in New Jersey.
  • Jolie from Bellwood, IlBon Jovi doesn't give love a bad name, you probadly do,zak. This is a good song and he's soo hot!!!!! Bon Jovi rocks this world forever!!!!!
  • Zak from Ganisville, Flbon jovi gives MUSIC a bad name
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