by Sabrina Acloque
Yes, I am a New Kids fan. I’ve been one since I was eight years old. I was a de facto fan because my older cousins were fans. I eventually outgrew my childhood love affair with the New Kids (now called NKOTB), but for some reason, when quarantine hit, New Kids fever hit me out of nowhere. It first started with the melody and chorus of “Let’s Try It Again” running through my mind. I started hearing that song in my head every night before going to bed in March. So, one day, I decided to lean in to that. I started looking up their Youtube videos, and did that for days on end (don’t judge).
I started looking up all their old hits, and then wanted to learn more about their background. Who, actually, were they? What I remember from my childhood is that they were these White, urban? suburban? kids who sang R&B music. When I was young, I remember feeling intrigued the minute I saw the video for “Please Don’t Go Girl” II (the one with Joey singing lead in the music studio-ish place). Joey was my guy. Those baby blue eyes singing so soulfully just got me every time. And Jordan because of his falsetto. To me, the New Kids were cool, hip, young, fun-loving, good-looking and talented. What was there not to like? I had New Kids on the Block pajamas too, which made me feel like I knew them because I grew up with them.
Fast forward to April 2020, the beginning of quarantine in Massachusetts. I learned more about who this man, Maurice Starr was, who is credited as being the one who put these boys together in a band. It was great to know that they were pushed by a man who had a great vision for their success. The fact that this Black man had a vision to make urban children stars is really moving to me, and the irony is not lost that he made these White children stars at a time when the powers that be believed so much in the inferiority of Blacks that they wanted to keep their White children separate from them in school. And now look at what Black culture gave to the New Kids. Look at what Black culture gave to White America, in fact: a successful boy band with its legions of fans and international fame.
Reading up about NKOTB’s background and history, and watching their older videos also made me realize, even more, the power of what having a mentor can mean for young people. Look at what can happen when young people find adults who can shape them for a future they never thought they’d have, and, in turn, teach youth to want more out of life and to go after what is theirs. Isn’t that amazing?
That’s why places such as the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, where some of the New Kids hung out before their fame, should be funded and supported more. How many other super stars are waiting to be discovered and molded from our neighborhoods?
As a New Kids fan, I appreciate the fact that they know and honor their roots and pay homage to their cultural influences. I appreciate the fact that they pushed against stereotypes about what urban is supposed to look like, and the fact that they sang and continue to sing really good ballads that can put me to sleep every night.
Here are some oldies for your fun-loving pleasure:
Please Don’t Go Girl (1988)
Step by Step (Live) (1990)
and one of my newer favorites:
Side note: isn’t it funny how all of them are still going after the same girl in their videos? ;-)
Want more New Kids info? Check out these additional articles and videos about them below. Yes, this is what I did in my free quarantine time (don’t judge!)
NKOTB on Their Cultural Influences and the Effect of Busing on Their Careers
More Jordan Info :-)