The New Kids Reunion: It’s Like The Wind (That Blew Through Medieval Germany)

Nov 21st, 2008 // 10 Comments

There’s always been something a bit strange about this year’s New Kids On The Block reunion. Sure, it makes sense on a surface level–the group’s members could use some money, and there’s at least a little bit out there to be made. But recording new material was, I felt, a risky venture, especially when the making of said material involved enlisting stars of R&B to try to add some credibility to the whole event. The video for “Dirty Dancing”–which is after the jump–only intensifies the weirdness.



First of all, I appreciate the effort the director made in including people speaking in a foreign language with occasional words I understand mixed in. That premise made KSCI one of my favorite channels when I couldn’t afford cable in Los Angeles and will always be close to my heart. However, when the song actually kicks in, so do confusion and fear on my part.

The spectacle of Joey, Jordan, and the other guys singing through Autotune modifications to an audience made up of what is apparently the gritty urban youth of dark-ages Germany gets to what was so odd about the New Kids and their new material. While Donnie is rapping (or whatever you want to call it) about sexing a girl up with big hips at the club, most of the group’s current fans are listening to the disc in the car while doing laundry or sneaking in one more track while waiting to pick up the kids at school. If whoever was writing these songs didn’t pitch at least one song about hitting on a newly single mom during the intermission of the fourth grade’s performance of The Wizard of Oz, they missed a golden opportunity. Instead, the reality of German peasants getting drunk on mead while Jonathan dances awkwardly downstage is as plausible as anything else the New Kids have done recently. Guys, if you’re reading and you want to really speak to your demographics, think about setting next your video at a parent-teacher conference.

New Kids On The Block – Dirty Dancing offical video [YouTube]

idolator

  1. bcapirigi

    WEIRD.

  2. Anonymous

    Idolator is probably my favorite online music blogs, but your New Kids on the Block reunion coverage has been incredibly one-dimensional and narrow-minded and you just don’t seem to get it.

    I’m 23 and I don’t remember the Kids from their hey-day and without older sisters, there was really no way for me to develop a nostalgic feel for them after they broke up. My friend Heather who grew up with two older sisters on the other hand, has gone wild over the reunion and dragged me along to the Washington DC concert at the beginning of October. Figuring it would be the people-watching event of the year, I didn’t really fight it.

    And you know what? It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert, and those 40-year-old men up on that stage put on a show. I tend to skew towards quieter, more introverted music, which generally means that when I go to concerts, I’m standing next to a bunch of hipsters sipping their red bulls and vodkas while slowly bopping their heads to the beat. What made the New Kids show different was that no one was trying to impress. Everyone there had an absolute blast: dancing, singing, screaming, periodic exposure…The guys on stage did everything they could to rile up the crowd and the crowd went right with them. The point is that no one had to try that hard; you were already a dork for being there, so why not let loose completely and just go with it?

    That’s the thing. Sure, this tour is generating a lot of money and some things could have been handled better – the “Summertime” video was just irritating, and fucking autotune rears its ugly head one too many times – but it’s been enormously fun. And if anything, this video, as undeniably whack as it is, simply serves to underscore this. The New Kids don’t really seem to take this that seriously: at the DC concert, Joey and Donnie seemed to be in a prank war, and they were clearly enjoying every minute of it.

    What you folks at Idolator don’t seem to get is that this isn’t meant for you; it’s not even really meant for a mainstream audience. It’s meant for that core group of loyalists that remember the New Kids the way they were and are looking to relive their childhoods for a few minutes. That means not being reminded that they’re moms and wives and business women; it means listening to Jordan Knight croon about loving you forever, or hearing Donnie talk about dancing with some nameless hot chick at a club because it’s reminiscent of the time when you were the hot chick at the club.

    Is it great music? Hell no. But it was never about great music. It is and always has been about a harmless form of escapism. And really, that’s pretty healthy.

    The New Kids on the Block reunion has been, in a rather bizarre way, an enormous success. Their concerts are selling out, the album was generally received well, and furthermore, they and their fans seem to honestly be enjoying themselves. I’m not sure if anything else really matters.

  3. Maura Johnston

    @quadrophenia718: thanks for this.
    i guess what i’m wondering is, if they’re looking to remember the new kids the way they were, then why the t-pain collaborations? why the women in bikinis dancing onstage?

  4. Anonymous

    Honestly, are the bikini chicks any different from what they used to be? There were women in the 90s version of bikinis back in the day. “If You Go Away” had a naked chick “artfully” lit and covered with a blowing curtain. I mean, it’s not really that different. Also, a lot of old New Kids stuff involves guesting with other artists – Freedom Williams is on “Call it What You Want” among others. It was certainly more ramped up on this disk, undoubtedly, but it’s not like it didn’t exist before. Also, I think at least some of it was label pressure: certainly, that’s why Nicole Sherzinger is there, as she and the New Kids are both on Interscope and her record was in the process of tanking when the album was released.

    I simplified a little when I said that it’s about reliving a childhood and remembering the New Kids as they were. I get the vibe from NKOTB fans I know that part of it is about reliving a portion of childhood – the simplicity of having an easy crush on the unattainable – but there’s the added R-rated component to it these days; PG crushes have aged 20 years and are now legal. Plus, it’s not like everything – music and otherwise – needs to be the same in order to remember the Kids “the way they were”. The music and the setting simply need to arouse the same emotions they did way back when.

    I mean, I’m not a New Kids fan; I don’t own old bedsheets, I don’t have dirty dreams about Joey McIntyre, and I don’t know all the words to their songs new or old. I’m just saying that I sort of get what the appeal is.

  5. Dan Gibson

    @quadrophenia718: I see what you mean, but I think you and I are in the same boat of opinion more than you might think. Mostly, I’m just confused by the newfound R&B take, especially when the band’s core audience (the one you describe as letting loose at the show) aren’t really grooving to T-Pain and Ne-Yo these days. The whole bump and grind sound just seems weird and forced to me, especially for an act that thrived on the adulation of suburban youth. I get the appeal of the act (my wife loves Joey, for example), but I assumed their return would sound more Backstreet than Blackstreet.

  6. CapnCalamity

    Why has no one mentioned that the album is actually quite good?

    I’m sort of the opposite of quadrophenia718…I DO remember NKOTB in their prime, and I have an older sister that used to do the Step-by-Step dance up and down our stairs. Every now and then, “Cover Girl” comes on my iPod and I remember what a fun song it was, but anytime I hear the “Hangin’ Tough” or “I’ll Be Loving You Forever,” I sorta cringe. They were (and as the autotune comments remind us, continue to be) terrible singers on the whole, and those songs were barely songs to being with.

    When “Click Click Click” leaked, I was shocked to discover a really interesting vibe. Sure, the lyrics are a little clunky, but a slow synth-marimba sex jam? Kinda cool, in the sense no one else is really doing that at the moment.

    Then the album came out, and I was even more shocked to hear tracks like “Twisted,” “One Song,” “Officially Over,” “Don’t Cry” and “Full Service.” These are TUNES, songs that ‘N Sync would be recording if they were still around (and that Backstreet SHOULD be record instead of the dross that was their last effort).

    Certainly, the overall flavor skews urban, but surely you’ve glanced at the American pop landscape once or twice in the last 5 years? Urban is what is required to sell these days; the surprise shouldn’t come at NKOTB’s attempting the genre, but rather their success with it.

    As far as this video is concerned, I’m all for it. Certainly it’s fucking weird, but I applaud anyone who attempts something more interesting than “canoodle with hot chick/cut to club scene/cut to close-up in front of light wall.”

  7. Anonymous

    I guess maybe it’d be too much trouble to do some research before blogging? This video is not the official American video for this song. It’s taken from a German movie that they had a cameo in.

  8. Dan Gibson

    @nynuk85: Dude, it says “Official Video” in the title of the YouTube clip. Plus, regardless, it’s still weird.

  9. Anonymous

    So what? I could make a video of myself dancing to that song and call it “official” in the title. Doesn’t make it true.

  10. This is an interesting and I love it!

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