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Bon Voyage For Bon Jovi

May 10, 1987|ROBERT HILBURN

It's no wonder that Rolling Stone magazine chose Bon Jovi for the cover of its current "What's Hot" issue. This is shaping up as the year of Bon Jovi, the pretty-boy hard-rockers from New Jersey.

The group--which toned down its original black leather, heavy-metal trimmings in favor of a more sexy and polite stance that would be more attractive to teen-age girls--is the early leader in the race for the year's most popular album and single.

Because sales figures aren't generally available in the record business the way box-office grosses are in the film world, Billboard magazine's weekly sales/air-play charts are generally regarded as the most accurate measure of popularity.

Under a formula that gives 10 points for every week at No. 1 on the chart, nine for every week at No. 2 and so forth, Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" has registered 174 points so far this year.

That gives the album--which has sold nearly 7 million copies so far (companies do often release sales figures on key best sellers)--a comfortable lead over the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill," which has 135 points.

Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" also finished first among singles, scoring 57 points, 3 ahead of the runner-up, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship.

Here are the most popular albums for the first third of the year (through the May 9 issue of Billboard). The number of points is also registered. An asterisk indicates that the record is still in the national Top 10.

1--Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet"--174 points.*

2--Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill"--135.*

3--Bruce Hornsby & the Range's "The Way It Is"--115.

4--Paul Simon's "Graceland"--65.*

5--Cinderella's "Night Songs"--62.

6--Boston's "Third Stage"--57.

7--Janet Jackson's "Control"--54.

8--Bangles' "Different Light"--52.

9--U2's "The Joshua Tree"--51.*

10--Genesis' "Invisible Touch"--48.

Bon Jovi is bound to add to its point total. The album--which has been on the Billboard charts for nine months--is still in the Top 10 and could even climb back toward No. 1 because the band is on the road this summer--and live shows are always a good sales booster.

But it faces competition from several areas, including the Beasties Boys (whose album was still No. 2 last week), U2 (whose LP has been No. 1 for three weeks now and should have considerable sales life left) and Whitney Houston (whose debut album sold more than 8 million and whose follow-up is due June 1). All three acts will also be touring.

Here are the most successful singles so far in 1987, according to Billboard:

1--Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"--57 points.

2--Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"--54.

3--Club Nouveau's "Lean on Me"--48.

4--Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over"--43.*

5 (tie)--Huey Lewis & the News' "Jacob's Ladder"--42.

Madonna's "Open Your Heart"--42.

7--Billy Vera & the Beaters' "At This Moment"--41.

8--Aretha Franklin/George Michael's "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)"--39.*

9--Robbie Nevil's "C'est La Vie"--37.

10--Gregory Abbott's "Shake You Down"--36.

The race in this category is wide open because the Top 10 life span of singles is so short. Where a hit LP can stay in the Top 10 for months, it's rare for a single to stay in the Top 10 for more than six to eight weeks.

The turnover is so fast--due to the high burnout factor on radio and the industry's strategy in releasing new singles to help stimulate album sales--that 10 different singles have already reached the No. 1 position this year. "Livin' " was able to tally the most points because it spent four weeks at No. 1, twice as long as any other record.

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