Giving us boy band excellence at the tail end of the late '80s and the very beginning of the '90s, New Kids On The Block were the first boy band experience for many a millennial. Personally, they were one of my absolute first musical obsessions, providing hours upon hours worth of bold, catchy hooks, danceable melodies, and cute-boys-are-singing-to-me vibes. They completely rocked my world, but that's not to say that the band they were to me back in 1991 are the same band that I hear when I listen back to them now. In fact, there's more than a few things that I've realized listening to New Kids On The Block as an adult, and not all of them are positive.
For the most part, though, it's amazing how well some of NKOTB's songs have held up over the past 15 years or so, and I'd even go so far as to say that some of their songs were pretty innovative as far as pop went, but that doesn't mean that they were any more or less talented than the many boy bands of the '90s who NKOTB went on to inspire. I hope you're wearing your finest pair of stonewash, ripped jeans, and your most badass leather biker jacket right now, because here are 11 things I've noticed listening back to NKOTB as an adult. Trust me, you'll want to be dressed appropriately for it.
1. They Sounded Adorably Innocent
By the time the '90s was in its peak, defining flow, it felt as though boys bands like *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys were busy burying naughty innuendos and the occasionally smutty lyric into their songs. But, back in 1988, all that New Kids On The Block wanted to sing about was how a girl had made all of their "dreams come true" in "You Got It (The Right Stuff)." Did music in the '90s become that dirty that the New Kids were the final wholesome pop band?
2. "Cover Girl" Is The Cutest Song Ever, But It's Ruined By So Much Crotch Thrusting
What was I just saying about innocence? On record, these boys are nice as punch and, in all likelihood, were even Grandma approved (a rarity!), but their videos tell a different story. "Cover Girl" is one of the sweetest pop songs ever, and it's also notable for being the one that NKOTB would sing to the lucky, young super fans who would get pulled out of the audience and on stage for the song. So whose terrible idea was it to choreograph these young men doing some proto-Magic Mike moves in the background? No song needs that amount of crotch thrusting to accompany it, fellas.
3. Their Ballads Were Pretty Painful
Look, NKOTB had a lot of strong suits, but trying to pull off the high-note Olympics of the Bee Gees for the duration of a love song was not one of them. "I'll Be Loving You Forever" is tragic for how flat and shrill it sounds. Like, no girl is going to be thrilled hearing such an announcement delivered like that.
4. "Hangin' Tough" Is The Street Anthem For Really Nice, Well Behaved Kids
As much as I will eternally adore NKOTB, no amount of leather biker jackets, ripped jeans, or baseball caps worn at a jaunty angle will ever convince me that they were even slightly badass. Yet "Hangin' Tough" has such swagger to it, such united shouty melodies and lyrics like "Don't cross our path 'cos you're gonna get stomped," that it almost sounds like they mean business. And that business involves dressing mean, saying please and thank you to everyone, and playing NKOTB at an appropriate volume that won't disturb anyone's day.
5. They Say "Girl" More Times Than Any Other Recording Artist Ever
"Girl" is the word which punctuates the vast majority of NKOTB's songs. It's used as the period, the question mark, and the exclamation point; it is everywhere. As a result, please indulge me in enjoying this delightful drinking game wherein we all take a nice, healthy gulp of something fun whenever these charmers say "girl" in one of their songs. I've got a good feeling that we'll be dancing on tables in less than half a song.
6. Their Music Could Be Pretty Ambitious
I can't imagine any other boy band in history to attempt whatever genre of song "Tonight" is. It's basically an early '90s pop-homage to "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band." Like, who even were these kids? Those talents were wasted on my super young ears.
7. The Band Was 90 Percent Jordan Knight
The best example of which can be found on the above song, "My Favourite Girl," wherein the rest of the band are definitely opening their mouths to sing some backing vocals but are instead hidden by a set of high pitched synth notes which harmonize with Jordan in lieu of the New Kids. I'm scandalized.
8. They Sincerely Wanted To Save The World (Through Music)
I succinctly remember listening to "This One's For The Children" as a kid and thinking, "wow, there are kids out there with no food and nowhere to go. NKOTB are so cool." I'm not sure what change they were hoping to instigate with their music, or whether they even managed to make a difference, but bless them for thinking that they could achieve it through song. It's so sincere, you guys.
9. All Of Their Spoken Word Intros Sound Like Lonely Island Sketches
There are few things less convincing than hearing Danny Wood begging his girlfriend not to leave him on "Please Don't Go Girl." It could be Andy Samberg for all we know.
10. "Step By Step" Is Secretly One Of Their Best Songs
They had a lot of hits which stand strong to this day, but "Step By Step" is the one which I remember the best from being played over and over again at birthday parties and school dances. As such, nostalgia has sprinkled this song with the sweet goodness of sentimental nostalgia.
11. They Strived So Hard For Hipness
A remix song featuring a guest rap by Freedom Williams? I'm not sure that the audience they were trying to impress with that ruse would have been readily applauding NKOTB for that one, but points for trying.
Oh, who am I kidding? "Step By Step" and "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)" still reduce me to the same giggling super fan that I used to be back when I was 5 years old. I'm so not alone on that, right guys? Good.