It may be 2013, but the flames of the 1980s are apparently still burning in the hearts of millions. Despite the controversy and water cooler talk surrounding everyone from Justin Bieber to Miley Cyrus, the best-selling touring pop act the world over this year was … Bon Jovi.
Yes, the ’80s icons had the year’s top grossing tour, and their top grossing tour of all time, with $259.5 million in earnings this year. They beat out 2013’s number two act, Beyoncé, by almost $100 million in earnings. Rounding out the list, according to the AP, are Pink, Bieber and Bruce Springsteen.
Which all begs the question: are pop/rock acts known for their 1980s megahits particularly successful at keeping a loyal fanbase that shells out the required money to pay for concert tickets, or is America in general particularly fascinated by cheesy hope-metal and still madly in love with Livin’ on a Prayer? Is the presence of fellow insufferable Jersey rock guitar mumbler* Springsteen a sign that that state’s residents are more willing to attend concerts and work to grow a star fanbase than those of other states?
There are no clear answers for the state of affairs on the list of top-grossing touring concert acts. But there is the presence of other rock acts from the same generation as Springsteen and Bon Jovi–particularly formerly-niche synth-pop group Depeche Mode–and icons like Elton John and Paul McCartney. Sure, One Direction and Taylor Swift make the cut because of their broad appeal with young music fans, but the presence of such established acts seems to indicate that concert-going has become a far more adult affair.
As for Bon Jovi themselves, the victors have had a difficult time getting the entire gang together for a proper tour due to differences with guitarist Richie Sambora. Reports earlier this year circulated that Sambora had “money issues” with the rest of the band, and had left hoping to be paid more money for his services. Jon Bon Jovi himself had said he hoped Sambora would return whenever he wished to, even when reports that Bon Jovi had fired Sambora from the band became the norm. No such incidents seem to have hurt their touring operation, however; in fact, they made more money on the touring circuit than ever before.
What acts 2014 will see topping the list will depend heavily on what the landscape looks like for new artists. Bieber, for one, briefly flirted with retirement or at least a less hectic new year, and his spot could give way to another teen icon who did not make the top five this year, potentially the aforementioned Swift or One Direction. But if Bon Jovi is any indication, the best days of all these bands are yet to come, when their hits are not just enjoyable but representative of a long-gone era.
*As a native New Jerseyan, your author gets a free pass to insult Bruce Springsteen.