Back in 1994, I was listening to a radio interview on Capital Radio where presenter Clive Warren was speaking to Boston boy band New Kids On The Block as they made their comeback after an absence of three years. During this interview, Donnie Wahlberg revealed that the band had been together for ten years.
“Ten years!” exclaimed Warren, “that’s incredible!”
And indeed it was. Despite a few exceptions, pop acts aren’t expected to last longer than a couple of years so ten years seemed like a lifetime, and as I sat at home listening to the interview while having naughty thoughts about that Jordan, I shared Warren’s sense of amazement.
Fast forward to 2014 and guess what? New Kids On The Block – or NKOTB as they like to be called – have announced that they will be hosting a four day party and concert extravaganza in sin city itself, Las Vegas, to celebrate – wait for it – thirty years since the group was formed. That’s right – THIRTY YEARS!!!
It’s not a typo of any kind – the New Kids were formed by Maurice Starr in 1984 when they really were just, er, New Kids. Many Blockheads have taken to the forums to say that although they are delighted by news of the Las Vegas residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood and the fact that the beloved boy band have been together for thirty years… the news also made them feel very old! Thankfully for me, I never did get past the age of fifteen, so I don’t feel old – but I am wondering where all those years went…
I still remember the very first time I saw the ’80s favourites. It was November 1989 and I was sat at home watching Top Of The Pops with my dad and sister. The New Kids were starting to make a name for themselves on this side of the Atlantic. I’d already heard (You Got It) The Right Stuff played on the radio a million times which was just as well because I never got bored of it, and all my classmates couldn’t stop going on about them (I went to an all-girls school!) I’d had phases of being into other pop acts: Wham! Duran Duran, Bros, Brother Beyond, Kylie and Jason… but seeing NKOTB for the first time doing the New Kids dance was something I will never forget. Was it possible to get five hotties in one band? Did Jordan Knight need a license to be that gorgeous? Where did they get those magic feet from? Damn, they could sing! I fell in love with Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jon and Jordan there and then and it has most definitely not been a phase because I’m still besotted with them after all these years.
The band went on to sell over eighty million records; become the kings of merchandising; have their own cartoon show; appear on just about every music program and talk show (as well as in our dreams!) and generally conquered the world with their combination of smooth vocals, choreography that kids were trying to recreate in school playgrounds and drop-dead-pass-out-and-die looks. They were also the boy band who gave us the erm, boy band! Love them or hate them for that, there is no denying that there have been a zillion boybands since them, all trying to emulate the success of the New Kids. Take That were formed as a British boy-band to rival the New Kids, and Boyzone’s Shane Lynch has revealed that he harboured ambitions to join a boy-band after seeing New Kids On The Block on the telly. To be honest, I really do wish that boy-bands had began and stopped with the New Kids because there hasn’t been a group who has been even half as good as the New Kids – not really a surprise as you can’t improve on perfection!
Sadly along with the highs, there have also been a lot of lows. An extremely loud cracking noise that could be heard all over the world in 1991 was identified as the sound of millions of young hearts breaking as New Kids On The Block announced their split amid rumours of escalating tensions and rivalries among the band. Even before that there were scandals as Donnie Wahlberg was accused of starting a fire at a hotel and was rumoured to be living with a much older woman (remember this was in the days when teen heart-throbs couldn’t admit to having a girlfriend!) The comeback in 1994 proved to be short-lived: NKOTB went their separate ways for good (so it seemed) once die-hard fans ripped up their posters and moved on to the latest pop group du jour. Jordan Knight later admitted in interviews that launching a solo career was hard as he was regarded as a has-been at the tender age of twenty six and couldn’t escape the band’s perceived cheesy image.
During the years that followed, the New Kids virtually faded into obscurity and never again graced magazine covers or were top billing at any show. There were a few precious glimpses of our favourite Bostonians over the years: Donnie and Joe were both forging ahead with acting careers; Jordan embarked on a solo career, and Danny got a place in short-lived boy-band Upper Street. Jon was the only one who withdrew completely from the crazy world of showbiz and settled for a more quieter life, although he did make the odd television appearance.
But then everything changed in 2008 when a miracle happened and the five bad brothers from the Beantown decided to make one final attempt at pop domination. And thank goodness for that because they’ve achieved what they set out to do plus healed the hearts of the fans who never went away. The rest is history and the band are still going strong.
The last thirty years have been one hell of a ride! Speaking to People magazine, Jordan Knight revealed that passing years have done little to curb their enthusiasm:
” It is cool because it is still the same because no matter how old you get, there is still a kid inside of you.”
Knight also went on to say that it was the success of their annual cruises that gave them the Vegas idea and inspired them to host the residency and have a “cruise on land” in order to do something special to mark this momentous occasion – and the boys are really looking forward to performing at night and hosting pool parties during the day :
“At the end of the four days, I’m sure we will be almost dead. But it is fun and kind of intoxicating just hanging out with all the fans.”
Donnie Wahlberg added in a statement:
“The band has been focusing on all sorts of solo projects and now prepping for our European tour, but we knew we wanted to do something special Stateside for 2014. We knew we had a limited time block where we could do something fun and we knew we had to make it memorable! What better place than Vegas?”
And what better people to party with than the New Kids On The Block? The short festival will be called After Dark and kicks off on July 10. Tickets go on sale on 4th April. Will I be going? Well, I’m trying to twist Hubby’s arm and convincing him we need a Las Vegas holiday around that time but he’s having none of it. I am working on it though. After all i’s not every day your fave pop band celebrates their thirtieth anniversary.
Damn! Now I do feel old!