Today we‘re going to make a very big step, nah, a gigantic leap from the domain of mostly underground extreme music (and ocassional peek into the mainstream) and land in the territory of boybands. Yes, I‘ve said it – boybands. Hated by majority of male music enthusiasts, loved, adored and idolized by tens of thousands mostly teenage girls, one can‘t argue the commercial success of the big ones warrants our attention. The Rubber Axe is dedicated to all kinds of music, so obviously, we‘ll cover this one as well, but we will try to notice also the „mechanics“ beyond those bands too. And, frankly speaking, growing older, some of the songs just fill me with a good dose of nostalgia (because I‘ve never dated a girl who was listening to „Spiritual Healing“, you know).
For the purpose of this series I‘d like to make a quick explanation what we‘re gonna talk about. The majority of readers do understand what „boyband“ stands for, but for those who don‘t, and for all the nit-pickers, we‘re gonna deal with mainly „artificially made“ bands (which the majority of those bands are, but not all), i. e. bands put together by some manager(s) for a totally commercial exploitation of the music market. That being said, although some experts would consider The Inky Spots the first boyband, and The Beatles would definitely fill some criteria of boybands (teen hysteria, outfits…), they are outside of this article. And albeit The Monkees were a boyband without a slightest doubt, I‘m not gonna include them here. The reason is simple – I am not familiar with their stuff, as I was born during late 70s, so, sorry, Monkees‘ fans! We‘re starting our journey in the 1980s with the first boyband of the modern era, and probably the most successful one – the New Kids On The Block (NKOTB).
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Believe it or not, these 5 guys were not always old 🙂 Jump back into 1986, when they were nobodies and just released their debut album, titled, well, guess what…New Kids on The Block. Let‘s have a loook at it, what do you think?
10 songs, something over 42 minutes. And boy, it‘s absolutely cheesy 80s lollipop.
Anyway, opening song – „Stop It, Girl“ – is Jackson 5 in white. No discussion. Period. What else you need to hear? Little Joey McIntyre is totally impersonating young Michael Jackson and the music just underscores it. Funny, this one should vibrate with urban audience, but for some reason it haven‘t.
And because the majority of songs were written by their then manager Maurice Starr, one doesn‘t have to be a Nobel prize winner to see where all this funky sh…stuff comes from, like the cover of The Delphonics‘ „„Didn‘t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)“, which is the song number 2 (under the title „Didn‘t I Blow Your Mind (This Time)“. For me it‘s better than the original, but hey, I‘m a white boy with no soul, so, what do I know 🙂
And the cheesiness continues in „Popsicle“ (yes, it‘s the song number 3“, which basically don‘t deviate from the „Stop It, Girl“ and it‘s probably as forgettable. But voices, they are so funny, like the rap part in „Popsicle“ (yes, it‘s really funny).
Song number 4 is „Angel“ and it doesn‘t deviate one iota from the major sound and music. I‘d guess when driving for hours, one wouldn‘t actually mind it, but just concentrating on the music in my office room, it‘s a different game. The album is definitely not special (which is not surprising, a lot of great bands start with a total failure of an album), and it‘s not hard to see why it haven‘t get basically any attention at his release.
„Be My Babe“, I‘ve almost expected a deep voiced member of Boyz II Men to drop some memorable lines. You know..“Listen, girl…,“ or something similarly silly. But nope, and I am sure I don‘t regret it.
And with „New Kids On the Block“ boys (under the wise guidance of Mr. Starr) have attempted to attack hip-hop circles (and with that terrible 80s hip hop beats and pseudo-scratching), and it actually is listenable. Remember Ice-T‘s debut? So you have an idea how this sounds.
„Are You Down?“ continues in the white hip-hop sound and Joey scores some lovable rhymes. Sometimes I ask myself, why many artists have totally terrible openes, followed by quite solid songs. Well, if I am not listening to this album for a review purposes, I‘d probably shut it off within 20 seconds into the first song. But it‘s getting better and this one certainly proves it.
And mentioning Boyz II Men, „I Wanna Be Loved By You“ is like straight from their repertoire (plus a healthy dose of Barry White). Nothing wrong with that, Barry was the man! This one is definitely a winner when the lights go down low…you know. Although yeah, Barry would be better, but when you are in your teens in 1980‘s and you want to impress similarly aged girl…and that Jordan‘s high pitch! Oh my…but the song is over, thank God.
The one before the last song is „Don‘t Give Up On Me“, a surprisingly fresh sounding 80‘s popfunk. Another WTF moment – and another example of the misplacement of the hit song. Or maybe I am not in the target group?
And the last one? „Treat Me Right“ and I don‘t like this one. After some great tunes we‘re treated with same old Jackson 5 wannabes. Nope, but I‘m gonna finish it.
Well, from the view of 42-years old guy in 2019, this album is definitely outdated, but also very nostalgic. Although I‘m not gonna play it very often (if ever again) 🙂