New Kids On The Block was the original ‘boy band’ of 90’s. They sold records by the millions with their r&b-inflected; bubblegum pop, filled concert halls with screaming girls wherever they went, and dominated teen magazines with their hunky yet clean-cut image. They also set the tone for future boy groups like the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync by introducing rap and funk elements to the teen-pop sound.
This group was formed by Maurice Starr, the music impresario behind the early success of New Edition. He chose the five members-brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood, all Massachusetts natives-and supervised them as they undertook a year of intensive voice and dance training. The group released their first album in 1986 and began touring the U.S, including a stint as the opening act for Tiffany’s 1988 tour. The non-stop concerts would pay off in early 1989 when “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” a rap-styled slice of dance-pop from their second album, Hanging Tough, became a #3 hit. The New Kids had officially arrived.
Hanging Tough quickly became a #1 hit album and stayed on the charts for two years. It also spawned two #1 singles: “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” was a sweetly harmonized ballad, while “Hanging Tough” was a combination of pop and rap spiced up with an infectious ‘Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” chant. The group continued to tour, including visits to both Disneyland and Disney World, as they began to dominate MTV and teen magazines. They scored additional Top-10 hits with “Cover Girl,” a remake of the soul classic “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time,” and the Merry, Merry Christmas album.
1990 began on a high note for the New Kids when they won the Favorite Group and Favorite Album honors at the American Music Awards. They also scored a Top-10 hit with a lush ballad called “This One’s For The Children.” New Kid dolls were put out by enterprising toy company and sold by the millions as the group went on another highly successful tour. That summer, they released Step By Step, which quickly shot to #1. It produced another two hit singles in the danceable title track and “Tonight,” a typically smooth New Kids ballad.
By 1991, the New Kids were a phenomenon that had inspired books, comics, videotapes, a recorded-message hotline, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. Their next release was No More Games, an album of remixes (along with the original title track) that became a Top-20 hit. The New Kids embarked on their first international tour and scored major successes in England and Japan. In between all this activity, Donnie Wahlberg found the time to write and produce the #1 hit “Good Vibrations” for his brother, Marky Mark. Meanwhile, the New Kids continued their seemingly endless touring until late 1992.
After a well deserved break, New Kids On The Block (now renamed NKOTB) returned in 1994 with Face The Music. A new song called “Keep On Smiling” was also featured on the soundtrack of Free Willy. That summer, NKOTB stunned their international fan base by disbanding. Since then, Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre have gone on to successful solo careers, while Donnie Wahlberg has found success acting in films like Payback and The Sixth Sense. But wherever they end up in the future, Jon, Jordan, Joey, Donnie and Danny will always be remembered for inventing the idea of “the boy band” with New Kids On The Block.