NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK in the 80s
I'll be honest with you. I Never took much notice of New Kids On The Block back in the 1980s, or any other boy band for that matter. Looking back at their discography, I failed to realise just how big this group were back in the day. Between 1986 and 1990, the boys achieved success with three multi-platinum albums (Hangin' Tough received a Diamond certificate in Canada) and nine top ten singles in the U.S. - ten in the UK.
1986 Be My Girl -
1986 Stop It Girl -
1988 Please Don't Go Girl -
1988 You Got It (The Right Stuff) #1
1989 I'll Be Loving You Forever #5
1989 Hangin' Tough #1
1989 Cover Girl #4
1989 Didn't I (Blow Your Mind) #8
1989 This One's For The Children #9
Chart positions shown are for the UK
LIP SYNCING SCANDAL AND SPLIT
Okay, so I've established that the lads had phenomenal success in the last few years of the 1980s and in 1990, but then what?
As we all know, pop music fans are a fickle lot, and after two years out of the limelight (a colossal amount of time if you're a boy band) the majority of their fans had grown from screaming teenagers into young ladies and gents. The boys and their record company knew this, and after allegations about the group lip-syncing their live performances, a change of image was required.
You may remember the lip-synching scandal that ended the career of Milli Vanilli. Now, New Kids On The Block were facing similar allegations from their associate producer and string arranger on the album Step By Step. Gregory McPherson alleged that the American musician Maurice Starr sang vocals while the boys lip-synced to a backing track during their live shows. He filed a lawsuit against Starr for a breach of contract, but by April 1992 he had dropped it and released a statement that more or less said "they did sing on their lead vocals", even though the boys, allegedly, admitted singing to pre-recorded vocals (with Starr singing harmony) during their live shows.
Renaming themselves NKOTB, a fourth album aptly named Face The Music was released on 25th January 1994. The album featured a more mature sound and received praise from many critics. Despite this, it seemed that the fans had lost interest (and possibly respect) and the album failed to replicate the phenomenal sales of the previous releases. Indeed, many would argue that it was a flop, peaking at #37 in the U.S. album charts (#36 in the UK) and achieving sales of just 27,000 in the first week of release.
What the exact truth is I do not know, but it was all very damaging to the credibility of New Kids On The Block as a live act, for a while, at least.
No longer able to sell enough tickets to perform in the stadiums and arenas they had become accustomed to, the band now found themselves performing in more humble settings such as clubs and theatres, much to the delight of the press. It was all rather humiliating, to say the least.
1990 Step By Step #2
1990 Tonight #3
1990 Let's Try It Again #8
1991 Games #14
1991 Call It What You Want #12
1991 If You Go Away #9
1994 Dirty Dawg #27
1994 Never Let You Go #42
Chart positions shown are for the UK
Inevitably, the group split-up, with each member going their seperate ways. Donnie Wahlberg started an acting career. Joey Mcintyre, Jordan Knight and Danny Wood continued in the pop music industry, all releasing their own debut solo albums in 1999. Oldest member, Jonathan Knight, kept a very low profile, working as a real estate investor, although he did state in 2000 that he suffered from an anxiety disorder.
REFORMATION in 2008
In 2008, New Kids On The Block reformed (using their full, original title) and in September released their first album in fourteen years, The Block, which sold an impressive 100,000 units in its first week alone. Reaching #2 on the Billboard 200, and #16 in the UK, the album featured collaborations with well-known artists including Lady gaga, The Pussycat Dolls, Ne-Yo, Akon, Teddy Riley and New Edition. Three singles were also released, Summertime, Single and Dirty Dancing.
In 2011, the five singers joined forces with Backstreet Boys to form the supergroup NKOTBSB. They released an album (also titled NKOTBSB) which featured five hit songs from each group, plus two joint recording, All In My Head and Don't Turn Out The Lights, plus a mashup.
In April 2013, the group release another album, 10, which reached #6 in the U.S. and #47 in the UK. The reviews by critics were rather mixed, and the album wasn't as successful as The Block, with sales of 48,000 in its first week.
In 2015, the group toured North America and performed at 47 concerts, grossing over $26 million.
New Kids On The Block are performing live again in August and October 2016 at Coney Island, Hershey and New Orleans in the U.S. You can view a full list of events on their website.