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)
8. Hangin' Tough
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..."