It was not lost on me, a child of the 1980’s, that the New Kids on the Block recently announced that they’re getting back together. While not necessarily a dream come true, it did remind me of how cool I thought these guys were. They could sing, dance, wear cool clothes, get all the girls…and not get hazed by the football team. Needless to say, I prayed every night that they would have an open casting call for a 6th band member. No such luck. Instead, as an added bonus for my 6th grade girlfriend, the “b side” of the first Mix Tape I ever made included the entire “Hangin’ Tough” album. (Thank God for 90 minute cassette tapes and double-deck tape players.)
Feeling a little tired and burned out from the weekend, I decided to take a trip down memory lane this afternoon via the YouTube Express. Here’s a brief breakdown of all the NKOTB songs that were Top 10 hits. Don’t let the nostalgia get the best of you!
Their first big hit. A pre-pubescent Joe runs the show here. I love that they “remembered their roots” by showing the Kids hanging out in Boston. Off to a good start, fo sho!
Gunning for a Grammy with the black & white video. Great choreography. Love the extended game of tag / hide-and-seek in the graveyard. Donnie showing off the pirannha-eaten jeans. The transcendent part of this song was at the third time they sing the pre-chorus. They sing, “you made all”…and then, in some sort of quasi-sexy voice, someone says, “you know what you did.” Hilarious.
This gets the award for most random NKOTB video. Starts out signing autographs…then hanging out in a warehouse…then throwing a basketball at the wall (look – we’re athletic too!)…shooting pool…eating pizza on the street corner…singing in a concert…SO RANDOM. This one is all Jordan, which is interesting. Unlike their successors (*NSync, Backstreet, etc.) New Kids didn’t pretend to get multiple people involved in a song. No token verse for Danny, Jon, or even Joe. I wonder who got all the girls…
Love everything about this song. The random lifeguard whistle throughout. The faux tough-guy lyrics and posturing. Occasional words scrolling across the screen. The dance-so-easy-your-crippled-grandmother-could-do-it (waving your hand back and forth in the air; aka “The New Kids Dance”). The only thing that bummed me out as a kid was they cut out Donnie’s beat boxing after they say, “Cuz ya know it ain’t over till the fat lady sings!” I guess that was a little to ghetto for white, middle class suburbia in 1989.
I always thought this song had legs as the theme song for Covergirl makeup. What a waste. I like the fact that Donnie gets to sing this one. Either strange or cute when he brings the 8 year old girl to dance, singing, “I only wanna be with you”. Another one of my favorite boy band tactics – announcing the name of the instrument that’s about to play the bridge. “BASS!” Thanks for the music appreciation lesson, Donnie. Perhaps the best part of the song is the producers unwillingness to tweak Donnie’s vocals. There are some noticeably rough spots every time he says “cover”…and especially in the key change.
Couldn’t find the video for this one…but sometimes the live versions are the best. I love the Pips-style backup dancing and singing. Lots of gratuitous falsetto singing by Jordan…per usual. “Look at all these beautiful girls in the house tonight…uh uh uh.” Also, Danny Wood’s ability to “talk a minute” is not to be underestimated. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
The big hit off their Christmas album. I love the preface – “This is a very serious message.” As though to say, “all our other songs are stupid, but we didn’t write this one, so pay attention.” Donnie is really in to this one. I also love the token key change about 2/3 of the way through. No late-80s ballad would be complete without at least one good modulation.
So much going on in this over-produced video. I love Donnie in his breakout role as “Token Badass” with the shots of him lifting weights and riding a motorcycle. The “Step 1…” section still cracks me up to this day. I just imagine some producer saying, “how do we get the untalented and unattractive members of the band a brief solo so they feel validated?” Gotta love Danny, Jonathan, and Donnie.
Genius in lyric writing. Reference your popular songs in the first verse. Simple chorus (two words – “la” and “tonight). Second verse about girls, hair, and other boy band things. The crazy thing is that the song kinda sounds like “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. I also love the random shots of Jordan in black spandex dancing in the rain. What???
Bonus – My Favorite Girl
This one never made the Top 40, but it was one of my faves. Highlights on this video include flat singing, questionable dance moves, and Jordan fixing his shoelace (wouldn’t you double-knot before going out on stage). The best part of all, however, is Jordan noticeably upset when the security doesn’t let him dance with the random girl who jumped up on stage. “Aw man!” Classic!