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Happy New Kids On The Block Day

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It’s that time of year again. The one where I get to dress up and go back to being a thirteen year old again.

No Halloween has not come early. I’m talking about New Kids On The Block Day, and as I’m a die hard fan, I absolutely love this day which remembers all that is fabulous about the most awesome boy band ever to walk this earth: Jordan, Jon, Joe, Danny and Donnie.

New Kids On The Block

New Kids On The Block

 

So come on Blockheads: don those ripped jeans, flash those smiley faces and peace sign medallions, wear your New Kids T-shirts with pride, and crank up the volume so that the whole neighbourhood hears those NKOTB tunes. Watch those videos to your hearts content, and prepare to fall in love with the Boston boy band all over again. It’s what today is all about.

Back in 1989, then Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis, declared 24 April to be National New Kids On The Block Day (for that alone, Mr. Dukakis should have been president!) National it may have been, but it didn’t stop fans from all over the world from honouring them. And twenty six years later it’s still a pretty big day in the Blockheads’ calendar.

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I’ve already driven the Hubby mad by singing New Kids On The Block Songs on the tube on the way to work. He should just be thankful that it was a packed carriage or I would have had to get on the floor and do the New Kids dance!

I’ve been in love with the five bad brothers from the bean town land from the moment I clapped eyes on them, and whereas most people go through phases of liking bands before moving on to the next big thing, it’s always been the New Kids for me and I’m so proud to say that they were my boy band when I was growing up.

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So as it’s National New Kids On The Block Day, I’m going to share the New Kids moments, experiences, memories and events that are special to me personally.

1.  BEFORE I’D EVEN SEEN THEM

“Do you lot like that new group, what are they called again? New Kids In The Neighbourhood?

“Oh you mean New Kids On The Block!”

“Oh my gosh, I really like them.”

“I really like them too!”

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That was a conversation that took place in my Year 7 class just as the New Kids were really starting to take off here in Britain. I can still  vividly remember this scene as we waited for our form tutor to arrive. At this point I’d definitely heard of New Kids On The Block but I hadn’t seen them and I didn’t really know anything about them. I wasn’t even a hundred per cent sure I’d heard anything by them. But I remember for the upcoming Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards many of the pop stars du jour were casting their vote for a little known band called the New Kids for Best Newcomer and various other awards so I knew there was something special about this band.

Little did I know just how special.

2. NUMBER ONE ON TOP OF THE POPS

It was Thursday night which meant that it was Top Of The Pops night, so us kids and Dad – who always likes to think he’s down with the kids – were huddled around the TV waiting to check out that week’s chart climbers and sliders and more importantly, who’d hit the top spot.

When the new number one was announced, I was thrilled to hear that it was that cool new group that everyone was talking about,New Kids On The Block with You Got It (The Right Stuff.) That was great because I’d finally get to see what they looked like – and what was so great about them. Little did I know that my little pre-pubescent self was NEVER going to be the same again.

The New Kids didn’t make a live appearance so the video was played instead, and when I tell you that it was love at first sight, I am not kidding. I’d had lots of crushes up until that point (yep, always had an eye for the boys!) but this was indescribable. I’d never seen a whole bunch of really great looking boys before. They sang and danced amazingly. I loved their style and they just had this thing… this thing that I couldn’t and still can’t quite put my finger on. And when a band or artist has this special quality, you just know they’re going to be huge. So it was no surprise when the New Kids blew up big time.

My sister and I had found our new crushes – as did most of the female population under the age of twenty five. I still didn’t know their names but the one who made the biggest impression on me was the extremely handsome, dark-haired boy who appeared to be the lead singer…

3. SMASH HITS COVER

Shortly after seeing them on TOTP for the first time, New Kids On The Block graced their first ever cover of Smash Hits magazine. And they were every bit as gorgeous as I’d remembered. I learned that their names were Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg, and Jordan Knight was Jon’s brother and the hottie who’d caught my eye. I’d never heard of anyone called Jordan before (we weren’t that exotic growing up in North-West London!) but it soon became one of my favourite boy’s names and remains so to this day – although Hubby is adamant that if ever we have a son, he is NEVER going to be called Jordan!

Thanks to that issue of Smash Hits, we also got to learn all sorts of other extremely useful snippets of info about them which came in very handy for discussions with our classmates. It was long before I was buying every magazine that they featured in.

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I bitterly regret not hanging on to that issue of Smash Hits.

4. WINNING SMASH HITS AWARDS

The year was 1990, the year my baby brother was born and the year New Kids On The Block scooped almost everything at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards. I’ve always loved watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party on BBC One, and then reading about it in the following issue of the magazine.

That year the New Kids appeared at the party via satellite link (that’s kind of when you know someone’s really famous!) but for the screaming girls present and those watching at home, those boys from Boston were definitely the highlight – as was seeing their excitement every time they got an award. But oh my goodness that was nothing compared to the hysterics when Jordan Knight found out that he’d won the award for most fanciable male. I loved when he looked in to the camera and said, “It’s me, boys” and then went on to thank all us “fine, English girls” for the award. Ooh, I’ve come over all funny!

Jordan Knight winning the award for most fanciable male was hardly a surprise but as all the New Kids are hot, it’s a pity they weren’t all joint first.

5. NEW YORK GIG

OK so I never got to go to the New York concert as part of the Hanging Tough Tour but I did get to see it and I loved it! I enjoyed every second of the show and so it seemed, did the New Kids, who looked as though they were having an awesome time. The bond between the boys has always been obvious but it was even more evident here. There have been many renditions of I’ll Be There but I definitely think there’s is the best by a long shot. I loved watching Jordan pulling faces into the camera and showing off his breaking dancing skills, Wild man Donnie serenading a little girl, and the boys really working that crowd.

Awesome gig!

6. PROVIDENCE GIG

I’d never even heard about Providence, RI before (sorry to all the residents there!) But now when I hear it mentioned, I immediately think of the gig the New Kids did there back in 1991 as part of the Magic Summer Tour. A friend recorded it for me and I’d never get fed up of watching it. In fact I spent more time watching it then I did studying for end of year exams. But it was worth it seeing Jordan perform Baby, I Believe In You.

I wish I had been there.

7.THE COMEBACK PT.1

I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled when the New Kids announced that they were reuniting but I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long to happen. There were apparent recording hitches and all kinds of other calamities that they had to contend with. And their eagerly-awaited appearance at the 1993 Smash Hits Poll Winners Party mysteriously never happened (Donnie later said that it was because the band were asked to change some of the lyrics to their very risqué hit, Dirty Dawg, which they refused to do.)

They did a feature in Smash Hits and it was awesome to hear what they’d been up to during their two year break. And I loved their lively banter with Clive Warren on capital Radio, as they promoted their new album Face The Music. It appeared that the boys were back, and us Blockheads – the real ones who never went away – were doing cartwheels.

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But this is where the memories aren’t so good. Even though I loved Face The Music, and I think it was lyrically and vocally one of the strongest out of all their early offerings, the critics and haters had it in for the New Kids. They slammed the boys’ harder, edgier street image and sound, and claimed that the lyrics in Dirty Dawg degraded women. Dirty Dawg only got as far as number twenty seven in the UK charts and the following single Never Gonna Let You Go barely made it into the Top Forty. Then Jon quit the group the New Kids soon disbanded. What I call the ‘wilderness years’ soon followed.

It is such a great pity that the boys weren’t as successful as they could have been because everything was put in place for an awesome comeback but there was so much stacked against them. But we can be thankful that they gave us another fantastic album.

8. THE COMEBACK PT.2

When it came to chart music and boy bands, no one could ever match up to New Kids On The Block. From being everywhere they were suddenly nowhere – and us fans missed them like crazy. I would get so excited if I so much as saw them mentioned in an article or if one of them made a fleeting appearance on a TV show.

And my biggest regret?

My biggest regret was that I got to see them perform live. That’s right – I might have been a fan for most of my life but I never got to go to a concert for many reasons and that did make me sad.

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I used to wish that they’d get back together if only for a little while so that I’d be able to fulfil my wish of being a hysterical Blockhead at one of their gigs. But I knew that it was unlikely to ever happen. The band had always seemed reluctant to get back together with many of them clearly stating that they’d moved on to other things.

So I was stunned, totally stunned when the New Kids reunited back in 2008. I was thrilled but apprehensive. What if this comeback was like the first one?

Luckily for us, it so wasn’t.

The group are still going strong today.

9. MY FIRST CONCERT

As soon as the UK tour was announced, I got tickets to the gig in Wembley. There are no words to describe how excited I was. For the New Kids to have gotten back together was beyond my wildest dreams. But to actually be going to their concert was a case of if-this-is-a-dream-please-don’t-wake-me. I was so happy that my dream was coming true.

But then tragedy struck when I lost my beloved grandfather just three weeks before the concert. In my grief the last thing I wanted to do was have a blast. I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a corner and stay there for a year. But my family had other ideas and persuaded me that it was what I needed.

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They were absolutely right. So a slightly subdued me went to Wembley with a very dear friend and we had an amazing time. We laughed, we sang, we danced, I may have shed a tear or two. It’ll always be very memorable for me. I loved the intro when the boys walked out on stage, and during If You Go Away, they displayed an emotional montage as a tribute to the loved ones they lost, which obviously struck a chord with me.

It was an extremely bittersweet experience and one that I’ll always be thankful to the New Kids for. I feel that they played a part in getting me through one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced, and I fulfilled my wish.

They were definitely worth the wait.

 

10. STAR ON HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME

When New Kids On The Block got their star on Hollywood Walk Of Fame it was as though they’d come full circle and there wasn’t a prouder bunch than us Blockheads. All I could think was “It’s about time!” New Kids have their place among the stars where they belong.

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Happy New Kids Day!

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Video

Don’t You Know That The Time Has Arrived? NKOTB’s Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Don’t be alarmed if you see an overly ecstatic woman wearing a smiley face t-shirt and a peace symbol medallion doing cartwheels down the street. Chances are she’s a Blockhead and she’s got a great reason for being super thrilled!

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Us Blockheads knew that we’d be loving New Kids On The Block forever but on Thursday we were prouder than ever as the Boston supergroup were honoured with the 2,530th star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of thousands of screaming, banner-carrying fans who were out in full force to share this very momentous occasion with their idols. I have no idea why it took so long but it was well worth the wait. It was an emotional moment for band members, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood as they received this prestigious tribute – a poignant reminder that they will live on in entertainment history. And it was undoubtedly an equally emotional moment for the fans as we saw just how far they’d come from their humble beginnings to become one of the most famous musical acts ever. No doubt thoughts turned to the first time we ever saw them or heard one of their songs. For some of us, they were our first crush, but for all the fans, they have continued to live on in our hearts – and maybe even still have their posters occupying  wall space! These five special guys played a part during our childhoods and teenage years, and I’m delighted that all these years later, they’re still here and they’ve been given the reward they so richly deserve.

THE CEREMONY

“Fans have been asking for quite a while now when the New Kids on The Block were going to get their star. We want to thank them for “Hangin’ Tough” for waiting patiently to hear the announcement of their favorite boy band star ceremony.” Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies

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Even though I had to make do with watching the ceremony from the comfort of my own home – I so wish I could have been there – I could tell that the atmosphere in Hollywood Boulevard was electric. Fans who have been on this three decade long ride with the New Kids were screaming their heads off and waving banners as though they were still fifteen (I’m surprised no one fainted!) Donnie got very emotional, comedian and friend to the New Kids, Arsenio Hall, paid tribute to the band – and our favourite boys from Boston finally got their star.

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Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Jon and Joey looked super hot – and it had nothing to do with the LA sun – as they stepped up to the podium in co-ordinating suits complete with pink ribbons pinned to their lapels for breast cancer awareness. Even though they smiled and waved to the crowd as speeches were being made, it was evident that they were totally overwhelmed. I suppose that’s the feeling you get when you know you’ve been immortalized forever.

Leron Gubler, president and CEO of Hollywood Chamber of commerce was the first to welcome the band onto the podium, but before he did, he took a little time to remind the crowd of NKOTB’s numerous achievements and accomplishments, including their work for charity, especially for breast cancer awareness, hence the pink bows.

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A very excited bunch of New Kids appeared which drove the crowd wild – and they were very closely followed by Arsenio Hall who has been a supporter of the band from the very beginning. He shared his memories with the fans and explained why the world loved the band so much before it was the turn of Los Angeles City Council’s Mitch O’Farrell to say a few words, who then presented the band with their individual certificates of honour.

It was then time for the band to speak.

With Arsenio Hall

With Arsenio Hall

 

It was Donnie who gave the speech and he revealed that for the first time ever, none of the band wanted to speak because they were so completely overwhelmed and blown away by the day’s events. However I’m not surprised that it was Donnie who got to step up to the mic because he always came across the leader of the group, and the hinge that held them all together. He’s also known for having a way with words which is why my sister and I nicknamed him Words-Of-Wisdom Donnie. And after the speech he delivered, he’s definitely worthy of the name. He talked about the band’s hard work and aspirations from the early days; gave thanks to the band’s family and friends, in particular their children; mentioned all those who were instrumental in their success from the beginning, and remembered those who were no longer with them. Poor Donnie got a little emotional and teary, and I’m sure there wasn’t a Blockhead present who didn’t want to rush up onto the stage and give him a big hug.

Donnie gets emotional

Donnie gets emotional

 

And talking of hugs, I thought the big group hug the others gave Donnie after he’d delivered his speech was so sweet. I love the true friendship that the five of them share. They have a rapport that I don’t see with other members of similar bands. Yes they’ve had their ups and downs over the years, and we all know that there were times when they couldn’t stand to be in the same room. But they’ve grown up and worked out their differences. Whereas most bands are seriously manufactured and thrown together by a record company, the New Kids – with the exception of Joe – all knew each other before they joined the band, so there’s definitely a bond there. Donnie summed up the closeness between the five at the ceremony:

‘We’ve been together for pretty much 30 years. We’ve been friends for longer. We’ve been through the droughts of droughts, the highs of highs. We’ve been through things that most people could never imagine… I think I speak for all of us in saying that I would not have wanted to spend one moment of the last 33 years doing this with anyone besides this team right here. We say it often but we are brothers. And it’s real.”’

THE STORY SO FAR:

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The New Kids formed in 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts when producer Maurice Starr – famous for discovering New Edition – put together brothers Jonathan and Jordan plus their high school friends, Donnie and Danny. Joey completed the line-up and the rest is history. New Kids On The Block superseded the success of New Edition by far, and became more famous than anyone could ever have imagined. They are considered to be the blueprint for boy bands as we know them today, though in my opinion the New Kids set the bar staggeringly high because over the years, boy bands may have come and gone but there’s only ever been one for me… and all my fellow Blockheads know what I’m talking about!

 

But along with the highs came the lows, and the New Kids have experienced more ups and downs than a lift in a tower block. Their meteoric rise to fame; the mass hysteria that had not been witnessed since the days of The Osmonds; their eventual decline and virtual disappearance have all been well-documented. They took a break at the end of 1991, and after a brief comeback in 1994 – complete with abridged name and new image – NKOTB disbanded, seemingly for good, much to the devastation of their fans. For more than a decade, very little was mentioned about the members of the defunct band. Yes, we knew that Jon had moved into real estate; Jordan was working on solo material; Danny popped up as a member of Upper Street; Joey was still involved in the music industry but had also branched out into acting, as did Donnie, although Donnie’s fame was now eclipsed by that of his younger brother Mark Wahlberg, who was fast on his way to becoming a respected Hollywood actor. And of course there was talk of girlfriends, wives and babies – things that had to be kept under wraps when the band were at the height of their fame. With the former New Kids following their own paths in life, a reunion seemed out of the question. Who could forget Bands Reunited where only the Knight brothers agreed to return? As the years went by, the odds of NKOTB making a comeback were very, very low.

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Well it’s a good job I’m not a betting person or I would have lost. As much as it would have been a dream come true for me for my fave band to reunite, I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I’d gotten my hopes up before with their 1994 comeback, plus the boys appeared to have moved on and expressed no interest in reuniting. But to prove that miracles do indeed happen, New Kids On The Block announced that they were getting back together again in 2008 and the world cheered – well us Blockhead’s did anyway! Their first release in nearly fifteen years was Summertime from their album The Block and they’ve been going strong ever since.

With Maurice Starr

With Maurice Starr

 

That’s why their recent accolade is so poignant. If they had not reunited they would have just faded into obscurity and they would have been known as ‘that band what used to be famous.’ When they hit the big time, they had to put up with sneers from critics. When they disbanded they had to put up with even more ridicule and had to watch as part of their fanbase (not the real fans) moved onto the next big thing and forgot about them. They went from being everywhere to being nowhere. They were no longer taken seriously or regarded as cool.

But they rose above it all… and look where they are now…

THE FANS

A fan at the ceremony

A fan at the ceremony

 

“If we are the star that’s going to be on this famed boulevard with these legendary names for the rest of time, then you guys are the soil and the concrete – the foundation that inspires us everyday to get up, keep going and say, ‘To hell with the naysayers,’ and ‘To hell with our crinkly bones.’ You are our fuel, our energy and our inspiration.” Donnie Wahlberg

New Kids On The Block really do have the best fans in the world – even if I do say so myself. However, I know it’s something that the group agree with.

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NKOTB’s  real fans never forgot them or gave up on them and the band are lucky to have such a loyal, strong and supportive fan base. Even though we might have grown up – with a lot of us having New Kids of our own – we’ve grown up with them and their music. And what’s so important about the star that the New Kids have been honoured with is that it was something that the fans called for, especially Melissa Buja, a Blockhead from Massachusetts, who led the campaign for the group to receive a star for the last three years.  As a result, Donnie gave a special mention to the fans during his speech.

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When New Kids first burst on the scene, the whole world went New Kids barmy. We’d had Bros, Brother Beyond and Wham! before them but I’d never seen anything like it. We wore ripped jeans like they did; we made up dances to their songs; we wore black rubber bracelets; we thought rat tails were cool; we went to the concerts we bought anything that had their faces or the band’s logo on it… in short our lives revolved around New Kids On The Block. And it stayed that way until they split.

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Most of us were delighted when they returned in 1994 with Face The Music. We had images of New Kids world domination taking over again. But alas it was not to be. A lot of the fans who used to like NKOTB had now lost interest and were into other boy bands who had formed after seeing the success of the New Kids. No one had ever told either the bands or the fans that imitation is never as good as the real deal! What was sad after the group split was that it was suddenly seriously uncool to admit to liking the New Kids. We were supposed to hate them and toss out all the memorabilia. So I collected all the New Kids goodies that no one wanted any more – and accepted the ridicule that went with it. I look at my vast collection of New Kids memorabilia and it was all so worth it. As far as I’m concerned, the New Kids have always been in and always been cool and I really don’t give two sh**s what anyone thinks. At least I don’t have sheep mentality.

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I’d met and formed a friendship with another Blockhead after the group broke up. I always liked meeting people who were still very much Blockheads and proud of it, who said that she was a Boyzone fan because out of all the boy bands out there, they were the best of the bunch. But her heart well and truly belonged to the New Kids – especially Joey McIntyre. It still does.

Us fans have never been prouder of being Blockheads than we were on Thursday!

WHY WE LOVE THEM

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Goodness – where do we start! The New Kids are mega talented, gorgeous, they sing beautifully, have great moves, write amazing lyrics, show love to their fans, are very family-orientated, still love their hometown… I could go on forever. It’s so difficult to put into words why we love them. They’re a band like no other. They’ve captured our hearts and there will never be another group like them.

The Bean Town posse proved that it was possible for the ordinary kid on the block to live the dream and be a success. They proved that it was possible to get back up on your feet when you got knocked down and come back bigger and badder than ever. And they weren’t afraid of hard work. I remember listening to an interview with the New Kids when the interviewer, Clive Warren, remembered going on tour with the boys and described just how hard they worked:

“You would have breakfast just before the evening show,” Warren revealed.

"I don't care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama's..."

“I don’t care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama’s…”

I also remember how Take That took a pop at them back in ’94 when the New Kids were making a comeback. The delightful Gary Barlow said that the boys would probably be opening up for Take That. A very dignified Joey McIntyre refused to rise to the bait but did say that he didn’t think Take That would be saying stupid things like that if they were all in the same room.

Too right! And far be it for me to gloat but I think we can all see who’s having the last laugh now.

I love the New Kids. Totally love them. I always will. I have been a proud Blockhead since day one – and I could not be prouder. Thanks for all the magical memories, New Kids. I look forward to many more and huge congrats on your success. You’re awesome!

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 “You know why I love them? They make us happy. You cannot listen to a song or watch a video and not smile. Their songs will be our oldies when we’re old. We’re going to have the greatest oldies in the history of music… because we have New Kids.” Arsenio Hall

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