dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Teenage Wasteland: Are The New Kids On The Block Reuniting?

The U.K. chart remains basically the same, so let's instead turn to the big news: New Kids On The Block are getting back together, says People.

To be honest, I never liked New Kids. They always remind me of being the awkward ages of 15 and 16. More importantly, I just never liked their songs... well, save for that Christmas trash, "This One's For The Children," for maybe a day or two.

Luckily, they were here and gone in a blur, or at least what seemed like a blur. Their arrival coincided with my first flirtation with the dirty words "Top 40 music," since up to that point I'd mostly walked around the halls of high school pretending to mope around while listeneing to The Smiths and The Cure on my $10 K-Mart walkman.

Suddenly, it was March 1989 and this new crop of MTV stars were doling out upbeat dance/pop -- Roxette, Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, Fine Young Cannibals. There were also some good singles by pop veterans out at that point, too -- Howard Jones' "Everlasting Love" and Donna Summer's "This Time I Know It's For Real."

But smack in the middle of it all was New Kids On The Block with their generic "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" and "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," the latter of which was so bland, yet somehow became the template for every boy band that followed on how to make in insipid, mind-numbing ballad. (Jesus, now that I think about it, I really hated them.)

And while the Brits had Stock Aitken Waterman cranking out singles left and right, we had to deal with the pop plastic of Maurice Starr, the impresario behind New Edition and New Kids, along with other acts, like Perfect Gentlman, who often vanished into obscurity after one hit.

Every girl in high school had a tsunami in their panties over these dorks, and I just didn't get it. In fact, it just fueled the loathing. I couldn't go over to one of my gal pal's houses without their being some kind of New Kids concert video or notebook being flaunted in my face. I spent the summer of '89 hangin' tough at the local pool, and those f***ers were constantly on the radio. It was enough to make you walk around moping to The Smiths again.

Famously, at my high school, there was a girl who finally gave up her candy shop to her boyfriend of a year in return for New Kids concert tickets. Do kids still have sex at 15? Or is it 12 now?

Right, so then something odd happened. They kind of went away for, like, a month or two, and popped up out of nowhere with "Step By Step" in spring of 1990. Suddenly, there was an NKOTB single that didn't grate on my skull. It was like, Shit! The New Kids discovered house music! They followed that up with the charming, Beatles-esque "Tonight," the video for which might have benefited from a more retro theme to match the tune.

And then they were gone. Just like that. It was as if radio and MTV yanked the fivesome off the stage with a cane just as quickly as they'd sent them synchronized-dancing down our throats. There was some minor hit with a banal ballad in spring/summer of 1992 ("If You Go Away"), and then a failed attempt at a more hip-hop return for them in 1994, but by then they were a complete joke.

At any rate, the Boston fivesome, now ranging in age from 35 to 40, appear to be staging a comeback. And, why not? If Paula Abdul can do it... In fact, if Take That -- a British boy band whose manager modeled them after New Kids -- and Spice Girls, in turn modeled after Take That, can do it, then New Kids have ever right to reform for a bit of nostalgia cash-in.

All that said, here's a naughty disclosure: Jordan Knight's spring 1999 solo hit, "Give It To You" -- which I blogged about in 2006 -- will always be a jam in my book. And here's a bit of trivia: it was co-written by Jordan and Robin Thicke(!). Also, Joey McIntyre's "Stay The Same," which was out at the same time, is still one of my guilty pleasures.

Plus, if there's anything good out of this reunion, it's that Joey still looks like a hot boff.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Now You're Gone" - Basshunter *3 weeks*
2. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele
3. "Rockstar" - Nickelback
4. "Don't Stop The Music" - Rihanna
5. "Superstar" - Lupe Fiasco feat. Matthew Santos
6. "Piece Of Me" - Britney Spears
7. "Work" - Kelly Rowland
8. "Elvis Ain't Dead" - Scouting For Girls
9. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" - Soulja Boy Tell'em
10. "Be Mine!" - Robyn

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  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger Digital Technique said…

    Wasn't a big fan of NKOTB the first time around but am intrigued about there comeback! Loved Jordan's solo album and Give It To You is one of my fave songs ever!

    Can't believe Basshunter has kept Adele off #1 spot for a second week in the UK! :( Ah well...there is always next weeks chart!

  • At 9:42 PM, Blogger xolondon said…

    These boys were huge when I was in college, so I naturally opted for REM and 10000 Maniacs!

    Re Basshunter, I enjoyed his album promotion of sex photos.

  • At 11:48 PM, Blogger John said…

    "If You Go Away" is one of my all-time favorite pop ballads, and I will always have at least a little respect for the band trying to go a bit more "legit" in their later years.

    When Jordan went solo, I really was rooting for him. As a Camelot Music store manager in Atlanta in '99, I helped out at a signing he did, and man, there was no gratitude from him for getting a second chance. Matter of fact, in the back room waiting for the signing, he started singing an old spiritual about being "in chains". Prick.

  • At 6:22 AM, Blogger Adem With An E said…

    God. Their songs have not aged very well have they? Still love that shit, but I remember them sounding... er... better?

  • At 6:27 AM, Blogger paul @ www.thezapping.com said…

    i am absolutely dreading their comeback. Can't imagine anything worse. Have people learnt nothing from the spice girls/all saints/five/east 17 reunion flops? Clearly take that were a one off. Plus Upper St hardly set the world alight did it?

    UK Charts ~ pretty dull this week. Nice to see the aces David Jordan in at 22 though. Hopefully that is on downloads not physical as well.

  • At 7:23 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    Damn, I've put out for a lot less than NKOTB tickets!

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