So, when we last saw our intrepid Canadian guitar-slinging meathead, he was on top of the world: His career-defining masterpiece Reckless had brought him global fame and untold riches. He had managed to elevate the Art of the ClichÃ© to previously unscaled heights. I mean, really, if clichÃ©s were a martial art, at this point, Bryan Adams would have had like six black belts.
It’s at this point in an artist’s career when he often decides he needs to stretch his legs a little. Branch out. It happens to the best of them: Bill Murray made The Razor’s Edge after Ghostbusters; Bruce Willis made In Country after Die Hard; and after Reckless (and a three-year vacation), Bryan Adams recorded…
Into The Fire (1987)
Hearts On Fire
Heat Of The Night
Into The Fire
Only The Strong Survive
Victim Of Love
You’ll notice that Fire, like Bry’s other albums, is chock-a-block with great clichÃ©s: “Home Again,” “Victim Of Love,” “Only The Strong Survive.” My favorite is “Heat Of The Night.” But it was obvious that his heart wasn’t in it. What’s this “Remembrance Day” shit? “Native Son”? That’s just lazy. After showing us what he was capable of with Reckless, he really let his fans down with this one. On the ClichÃ©-O-Meter, it rates a miserable 7 out of 10. The fans responded by staying away in droves: Into The Fire was Bryan’s lowest-charting album since…well, I don’t know. I don’t keep track of these things. Just trust me, it was a flop. It took him four more years to soothe the sting, but when he did come back, it was in a big way:
Waking Up The Neighbours (1991)
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You
All I Want Is You
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
Depend On Me
Do I Have To Say The Words?
Don’t Drop That Bomb On Me
Hey Honey – I’m Packin’ You In!
If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?)
Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?
There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven
Touch The Hand
Holy shit–fifteen tracks of whack! It brings new meaning to the phrase “an embarrassment of riches”! Now, it’s true that Neighbours is no Reckless–these song titles show a disturbing amount of originality–but it didn’t need to be. The album’s first song is “Everything I Do (I Do It For You),” which is like leading off an inning with a grand slam: It’s such a stunning, towering achievement that it should logically be impossible. But somehow he managed to do it anyway. “Everything I Do” is an absolute masterpiece of dreck, a flawless series of clichÃ©s that would have been deemed too trite for most Hallmark cards. And it sat on top of the charts for something like twelve years. Actually, I think it was more like sixteen weeks, but didn’t it feel like twelve years? Didn’t it? “Everything” gets double triple bonus points for being the theme song to Kevin Costner’s shitty Robin Hood movie. We don’t even need to discuss the rest of Neighbours. Just for this one song, it scores 16 out of 15 on the ClichÃ©-O-Meter. Way to go, Bryan! But trouble was on the horizon again:
18 ‘Til I Die (1996)
(I Wanna Be Your) Underwear
18 til I Die
Do To You
Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?
I Think About You
I’ll Always Be Right There
It Ain’t A Party If Ya Can’t Come ‘Round
Let’s Make A Night To Remember
The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You
We’re Gonna Win
You’re Still Beautiful To Me
18 ‘Til I Die took him an incredible five years to poop out. His hopeful fans told themselves he was scouring the globe in search of new, even more boring clichÃ©s, but no. He had decided he wanted to be taken seriously. Apparently, a decade of bad reviews had finally penetrated his brain, and Bryan set out to make a Great Rock Album. This is his Razor’s Edge, and by Razor’s Edge we mean “misguided attempt at gaining credibility.” He got a trendy new haircut, slapped some fashionably modern mid-’90s production on his songs, and even tried out a few new chord progressions. It all fell flat. Even including his brain-damaged hit from the previous year, the theme to Don Juan de Marco, didn’t help. Watching Adams in the video for “(I Wanna Be Your) Underwear,” leering at young models through his greasy new ‘do, one got the feeling that the album’s title was chosen in utter seriousness. On the ClichÃ©-O-Meter, this rates an anemic 4 out of 14. Boo!
Bryan Adams has never fully recovered from the disappointment of 18 ‘Til I Die. He released something called On A Day Like Today in 1998, and then of course there’s the new album, but if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
He could have had it all. For over a decade, he forged an unbroken chain of clichÃ©s, the likes of which the world had never seen. But he couldn’t be satisfied with who he was and what he had! There’s a lesson here somewhere, but I can’t figure out what it is. Just talking about Bryan Adams makes a person stupid.