Sunday, November 12, 2006

Where Are They Now: NKOTB

They stole our hearts... well, your hearts... with a string of timeless, sugary, teeny-bopper hits like The Right Stuff, I'll Be Loving You Forever, and Step By Step. They played to sell out audiences and sold millions of records. They were the New Kids On The Block.

But as the 80s gave way to the 90s, the music of the 80s was replaced by alternative music, hardcore dance, and bands from Seattle. Their legions of fans got out of junior high and began driving, and the New Kids popularity began to subside.

The New Kids tried changing to a new, tougher image. And even changed their name, to NKOTB, in 1993. Anytime a band changes its name, you know the end is near. (Well, except for Jefferson Airplane/Starship/Jefferson Starship/Space Shuttle Jefferson. But that's just good music.)

But the end had been a long time coming. The first time I heard Step By Step, and it got to "step four" in the bridge near the end of the song, and I realized Joey's voice had changed. I knew. It was over. It was just a matter of time.

So the New Kids broke up in 1994. Each of the five members left to pick up the pieces of their life. Their fall having been almost as swift as their meteoric rise. Which begs the question, where are they now?

Jordan Knight has been one of the most visible members of the band. If only because of his appearance alongside Brigette Nielsen, Dave Coulier, Flava Flav, and Charro, on season three of The Surreal Life, the show for ex-celebrities who have no place left to go.

Knight has released at least four solo albums. And he's been the one member who hasn't run from his status as an ex-New Kid. Even embracing it at times. To wit, he released an album of remixes in 2004, ten years after the New Kids broke up, imaginatively titled Jordan Knight Performs New Kids On The Block. Which would be somewhat akin to Ian Ziering going on tour performing his favorite Beverly Hills 90210 scenes.

Puberty hits us all at different times and in different ways. But it must have been particularly difficult for Joey McIntyre. Thanks to unfortunate timing, the youngest New Kid has his awkward voice change burned onto disc for all of posterity. His "I can give you more" line on Step By Step might be one of the five worst recorded vocals in music history.

McIntyre appeared for a season on Boston Public, acted in an off-Broadway play, and in 2005, he blew our minds again, finishing third on Dancing With The Stars. He's also recorded a handful of solo albums, and scored a top ten single with Stay The Same in 1999. But nothing will ever come close to his wistful, pre-pubescent crooning on Please Don't Go Girl. That, my friends, was magic.

Donnie Wahlberg was the first member of the group chosen during a talent search in the Boston area in the mid-1980's. After the group broke up, Wahlberg first worked on writing and producing music for his younger brother, Mark. Then both brothers ventured into acting. I always get which movies which brother was in confused. So, why even try.

All you need to know is that Donnie was supposed to star in a new drama on the CW network, called Runaway. The show was dropped after just three episodes due to low ratings. (Come on, CW. How could you be booing it, with Donnie D doing it?) Hey, look at it this way, there's nowhere to go but up from here. And if I know Donnie... and I don't, at all... you can bet he'll keep hangin' tough.

Jonathan Knight was the oldest New Kid. A Sagittarius. He's the only member who has stayed away from the music business entirely since the group split. Jonathan, who suffers from panic attacks, left the 1994 NKOTB tour early, and shortly thereafter the remaining four members cancelled the rest of the tour. According to VH-1, Jonathan currently, and I quote, "rocks the real estate market." Rock on.

Not a lot of information is available on Danny Wood (aka The Body, or Danny D). One rumor had him in the witness protection program, living in rural Nebraska, and going by the name Wuzzantever A. Newkid.

So there you have it, fans. Five individuals. Brought together by the right circumstances at the right time. A perfect storm, if you will. (Which, by the way, was a movie that starred either Donnie or Mark Wahlberg. But again, who the hell knows.) This post would have been better had I been a bigger New Kids fan. Or, more accurately, had I been able to find my cassette of their first album.

And now, we close with Bone's Ten Fave New Kids On The Block songs:

10. I'll Be Missin' You Come Christmas (A Letter To Santa)
9. Tonight
8. Hangin' Tough
7. Popsicle
6. I'll Be Loving You (Forever)
5. This One's For The Children
4. You Got It (The Right Stuff)
3. Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
2. Step By Step
1. Please Don't Go Girl

I hope you've enjoyed eighties week here on IYROOBTY as much as I have. As my most recent hit from a google search was for "jane wiedlin dominatrix," I think we can say without question it has been a success. And from Jordan, Jon, Joey, Donnie, Danny, and me... or, just me... have a funky, funky Christmas, and a happy New Year.

"We ain't gonna give anybody any slack. And if you try to keep us down we're gonna come right back. And you know we're hangin' tough..."


  1. The following response will just be random facts and opinions. Sorry I couldn't put them together a little more coherently.

    - In middle school I won two tickets to a NKOTB concert, and scalped 'em.

    - Donnie's portrayal of Lipton in Band of Brothers should have earned him a Golden Globe and Emmy. He was also really good in the indie flick Diamond Men.

    - I'm friendly with a band, Jagstar, that opened for Jordan Knight all across the country.

    - I heard the other day that they're bring back Menudo.

    - You'll be happy to hear that I was rooting for 'Bama on Saturday. Don't think it helped though.

    - BTW, the Ben Folds story is posted.

  2. LOVED this post!! I have all the albums except Face The Music. And I saw them in concert when I was 18 and got to meet them!

    I think I might have been the only peson who watched Runaway, which explains why it was cancelled.

    FYI, Danny's a music producer in Miami and Joey was in a Broadway musical called Wicked (which is YOOGE!).

    Oh, and back when I had a landline and an answering machine, the little rap part in Funky Funky Christmas was always my outgoing message from Thanksgiving to New Years. My friend's refused to call me during that time. :-)

    "Slipping and sliding through the city streets
    of Beantown getting down to the Christmas beat.
    It's Danny D, I'm here with Christmas cheer,
    no feeling to end the party of the year.
    It's going, I'm showing, fresh rhymes I'm throwing
    It's snowing outside but we ho-ho-hoing
    Santa's on the way, sleigh bells are ringing, swinging, everybody start singing..."

  3. I spent the weekend at my parents' house and found a New Kids tape. It was hilarious to me: obviously I knew I had one somewhere, but for it to just be there? Crazy!

    Great post, Bone: we depend on you to keep the 80s alive for us. Just don't do it via a mullet, k? :)

  4. I don't recall the first time I heard White Rabbit or Somebody to Love, and although Jefferson Starship produced some good music, nothing compared to Surealistic Pillow (which I think was there 2nd album). I was too old to get into New Kids, but the 80s, it was all alternative or old Steely Dan.

    Nice post (even if I didn't listen to their music)

  5. I never. Ever. Ever. I think I go into anaphylactic shock if I hear the name that cannot be typed.

  6. Of course they were lipsyncing! Shoot by the time we did it for real...we were all lipsyncing it! LOL

    I really think they should have used the Disney one would have known the difference. Or maybe they would because the Disney folks were much better.

    I forgot to mention that in the medly of the NKOTB songs for "This One's for the Children", one of them (Jordan, I think) bends down on one knee and has one of the children who's father was in the Gulf War come & sit on his knee while he lipsyncs to her. I'm sure she was so touched.

  7. i laughed, i cried. i remembered the new kids bed sheets that we all begged for when birthday parties with all your friends of the same gender were cool...whatever happened to those kind of parties?! i also remember the chance to almost go to a new kids concert..'cept my parents thought i was too young for i'm just stuck with the 'highlights'..its a little like watching old 90210 episodes on soap network..just sad.

  8. Big Man: We won't mention what I did one time to try and win New Kids tickets.

    He must be decent. He keeps getting roles. Not that those two always coincide.

    Xinh: 18? You were pushing the upper limits of the NKOTB fan age range weren't you? ;-)

    Wait a second, we're basically the same age.

    Yeah, dropped from the CW. That's pretty bad.

    My answering machine message originated from an episode of Seinfeld, so I can relate somewhat. And I take that to mean you were a HUGE New Kids fan.

    Traveling Chica: OK, I guess I'll be the 80s curator from now on. And don't worry, I'll never be bringing mullets back.

    Sage: Well, I think it's safe to say the New Kids never had anything to compare to White Rabbit :)

    Grace Slick's voice. Wow.

    Lass: Come now, are you in denial? ;-) I'm gonna need a medical dictionary. Quick, someone quone this patient.

    Renee: Did you have to wave your hand over your head, you know, and do the New Kids dance? :)

    I read where the proceeds from This One's For The Children went to United Cerebral Palsy. That's pretty cool.

    Alison: Sad? Watching 90210 reruns on SoapNet is how I get thru the afternoon :)

    Sad was when "Executive Producer: Charles Rosin" would come on the screen every week, signaling the end of another episode.

    I really probably shouldn't admit some of this stuff.

  9. I don't even remember Danny. I remember everyone else but not him. He must have not been cute.
    Funny post! My life is complete now that I know what those boys have been up to!

  10. If anyone can do it, it's you.

  11. you're a regular VH-1 Behind the Music. ;)

  12. Well, I was 18 in 1990 so I saw them at the tail end of their "career." I had been following them since I was 15. And I still love them. Which is why I was the only one watching Runaway, for Donnie, my most favoritist of all the Kids.

    And I don't believe that NKOTB lip synched simply because they didn't always hit the right notes when they performed. It's hard to sing and dance at the same time.

    I think I might have to bust out the NKOTB Hangin' Tough concert video and watch it.

  13. Lovedlovedloved this post. Even though I was never into NKOTB. I don't think they were big where I grew up or something. I do, however, know you missed the most important tidbit of info - Jonathan dated Tiffany (of I Think We're Alone Now and I Saw Him Standing There fame... hmm, did she have any original songs? But I digress.) Oh, and didn't Donnie have some run-ins with the law? I might have seen a Behind the Music or something on them a time or 5.

  14. Lindsy: I'm sure Danny was someone's fave. Maybe.

    Traveling Chica: Thanks... I think.

    Carmen: Yeah, except without the personal interviews. Or the tears.

    Xinh: I didn't even know Donnie had a show until I started researching for this post. Maybe if they'd have publicized it a bit more :)

    You should publish a monthly NKOTB newsletter!

    Lizzie: You are correct. I came across that in my research. He reportedly became "involved" with Tiffany when they toured together.

    Perhaps. But I'm sure once he told the officers he used to be in New Kids On The Block, that kept him out of any serious trouble.

  15. I was a little too far out of my teens for the NKOTB phenom. That would have been kind of freaky had I been a screaming fan at like 21. Jordan was cute...still is!

  16. When it comes to NKOTB, I was a girl obsessed. I had the dolls, the posters, the videos, the books, the night gown, AND the sheet set. I know, you're totally jealous. Jon was always my favorite because he was so shy and sweet. It just figures that now he's the recluse, doesn't it?

  17. Hilarious that you posted this, John and I were just listening to them over the weekend!!!!! We must be on the same wave length:-)

  18. Carnealian: Yes, that would have been a bit odd. What bands made you scream?

    Bre: Just as long as you don't still sleep on the sheets :)

    Arlene: Weird. I just popped in their CD the other day, too. Purely for blogging purposes, of course.

  19. I remember watching Jordan on "The Surreal Life". He was a jerk. He mentioned that he had a girlfriend and he started hitting on Ryan (or whatever that chick's name was from American Idol) and telling the diary camera that he thought she was hot (or something along those lines). I guess he didn't take his relationship with his supposed girlfriend too seriously because when she saw the show, that relationship would be going down the tubes!

    He seemed quite arrogant, in my humble opinion.

    There's probably a reason why I was in the minority of teenaged girls who were not enamored with NKOTB.

  20. Bone:

    I love that you used a whole post for NKOTB. I was a huge, huge fan!!! Jordan Knight was my favorite, so you could imagine my excitement when he was on Surreal Life! :)

    Hangin' Tough! :)

  21. I wasn't a huge New Kids fan but my best friend was CRAZY for them....she had posters all over her walls, the bed spread, curtins and even was kinda creepy!

    But the 90210 reference was too funny!!!

  22. Chickadee: Anytime I've watched that show, most of the characters seem awkward on there.

    DCchick1: It was hard to condense it down into just one post actually :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    RedNeckGirl: Thanks. That's funny that you thought it was kinda creepy.

  23. This is my first time to your blog, and I once I found this post, I couldn't stop laughing! My favorite witticism has to be:

    To wit, he released an album of remixes in 2004, ten years after the New Kids broke up, imaginatively titled Jordan Knight Performs New Kids On The Block. Which would be somewhat akin to Ian Ziering going on tour performing his favorite Beverly Hills 90210 scenes.

    I can honestly say I snorted and cackled wickedly throughout this post. However, I do agree with what someone had said earlier about Donnie winning an Emmy or Golden Globe for his work on Band of Brothers. He is one of the many reasons that drama was so successful.

  24. Zeus: Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it :)

  25. I love The New Kids! I had tickets to the Portland show and they canceled it! I was so upset!

  26. NKOTB STILL ROCK...just saw there show and was totally impressed. Jordan can still hit those rediculously high notes, and they can STILL work a stage...including Danny, who is over 40, and still can break dance with the best of them. In fact, the only thing that has changed in 20 years is my loyalty. I used to only have eyes for I would have sex with ALL of them!

    I know there are STILL a lot of haters out there....but hey, they must have something, cause they can still pack an arena...can you???????

  27. I can't wait to see the NKOTB Tour this year. I was a huge fan of both NKOTB and BSB back in the day... But they still sound and look great. See ya at one of the NY concerts!