Tag: Music

New Kids on the Block – The Original Boy Band

New Kids on the Block

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.

The Rise and Fall of Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli

During the dance-pop explosion of the late 80’s, Milli Vanilli caught the public eye with their fresh look and slick dance moves. However, they inspired one of the great controversies in recent pop music history when it was discovered that neither one of the group’s members sang a note on any of their records. When this was revealed, the inevitable backlash that occurred wiped out their fame overnight. However, Milli Vanilli managed to achieve an astounding level of success in a short time and sold several million records before the truth was revealed.

Milli Vanilli began when Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus met in a Munich nightclub in the late 80’s. They soon came to the attention of Frank Farian, a dance music producer who scored countless European hits with Boney M in the 1970’s. He liked their matching heads of long braided hair and decided they would make the perfect frontmen for his latest studio creation. Farian put the faces of Rob and Fab on the cover of Girl You Know It’s True, the first Milli Vanilli album, while anonymous studio musicians secretly lent their voices to Farian’s electronic dance-pop confections.

Check out Milli Vanilli’s Greatest Hits

By 1990, Milli Vanilli was an international sensation. Songs like “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You,” “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Girl You Know It’s True” and “Blame It On The Rain” helped the group sell over 30 million singles. All four were good examples of album’s catchy mixture of percolating synthesizers, churning dance beats and poppy harmonies. Rob and Fab also appeared in videos for these songs, performing elaborate dance routines that were imitated by kids around the world. Milli Vanilli went on to sell 14 million records worldwide and also won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

However, Milli Vanilli’s fortunes changed rapidly the next year. When Rob and Fab pressured Frank Farian to be allowed to sing on the next Milli Vanilli album, he revealed to the world press that neither man sang on the first album. He also revealed that both performers lip-synched at the many concerts and appearances they did to promote their music. Arista Records promptly dropped the group from their label and the duo were also forced to return their Best New Artist Grammy. Rob and Fab recorded an album under their own names and performed live to prove they could sing, but the damage had already been done.

Both Rob and Fab continued to pursue show-business careers after Milli Vanilli faded away. Rob fell prey to drug addiction and died in 1998 but Fab began a successful career as a disc jockey and continues to write songs. In many ways, their career as Milli Vanilli represented the end of an era for the music business. From there on out, musicians would have to be 100% up-front about the nature of their work and the public and the press alike would be much more watchful of their pop idols.