New Kids on the Block - The Block
Record Label: Interscope Records
Release Date: September 2, 2008
Do you hate dance-pop bands? So do I! In a world where covering a pop song brings you instant cred and a record deal (see: I Set My Friends on Fire), bubble-gum pop is hard to come by these days.
Leave it to some old-timers to give us some hope, if only for a little while.
Please join me in welcoming back New Kids on the Block ("NKOTB" on the streets). They've been sorely missed. The first legitimate boy band craze (unless you count the Beatles), to whom bands like *NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and Backstreet Boys owe their existence, are back. Sure they're your middle-aged teacher's guilty pleasure. That doesn't mean they can't get down.
The album starts off slow (which is a good thing) with "Click Click Click," and things only pick up from there. The album proceeds to showcase just how good Ne-Yo is with his duet with the band, titled "Single." 'Yo produced the track, and steals the show by song's end. After that, the Kids just want you to shake what your momma gave you, thanks to collaborations with well-known dance hit-makers Pussycat Dolls, Lady GaGa, and even Akon. With so many powerhouse special guests, you can easily understand just how much the New Kids on the Block were missed.
The album peaks with the greatest summer anthem I've heard in my life. We all remember our first summer relationship. The bonfires, the teenage mischief, the hook-ups, acoustic sing-alongs with your friends. You'll never forget it. Proof of this is the album's shining star, "Summertime." It's a summer jam, and nothing more. And that's all it has to be. If you don't get choked up thinking about that special girl/boy from the summer of (insert year here), you're simply emotionless and empty on the inside. No offense.
The album isn't all good, though. Die-hard New Kids on the Block fans looking for maturity will surely be disappointed. There's no purpose to these songs, no hidden meaning, no political allusions, none of that junk. By the end of the album, the songs get incredibly repetitive. We get it: you meet a girl in a club, and you want to have some "fun" with her. Time to move on, Kids. Also, if anyone sees Donnie Wahlberg, tell him he can't rap.
That being said, give the Kids (well, I really should call them Men now) a lot of credit. They know exactly who they are: the kings of boy bands, and nothing more. These dudes can definitely sing (see "Single" and "Summertime" for proof), and in a world where most bands list "Autotune" as one of its members, the Men rely on nothing but grown men pipes. They sing better than any pop band out there, and yes, even All Time Low.
If you're like me and you despise the dance-pop/dance-core scene, The Block is perfect for you: it gives you something to dance to other than the MySpace Flavor of the Week. Sure, there's nothing "scene" about these superstars, but if any band with a pop cover gets a million myspace plays, why not listen to the band who originally recorded ten times better than said band could?
Bottom Line: Welcome back, New Kids, not a moment to soon.
First, I actually dig this album, well at least most of it. For some unknown reason, "Dirty Dancing" is my favorite song, but "Click Click Click" is a close second.
Second, let's not get too carried away with their vocals. The reference to AutoTune is a bit ironic, because it's pretty evident that they used AutoTune and a vocoder (sparingly) on this album. Of all the boy bands, well of the 3 major ones over the last 15-20 years, (Backstreet Boys, NSync, NKOTB), New Kids have the least impressive vocals. It's pretty evident they can't really hang when Ne-Yo blows them out of the water on the 2nd track. So, Vocals a 10? Not a chance. On that note, I'm not sure that I'd classify "Summertime" as the Greatest Summer Anthem ever. I mean, what about LFO? (I joke). I'd put the original "Summertime" by Will Smith above this one, for sure.
Thirdly, I definitely agree about the entire album, overall. It's what we'd expect to hear from a group of 40 year old, once uber-famous boy band members. Reviewer, you are totally right - Donnie Wahlberg is a terrible rapper. I don't think it gets worse than this on the record: "You ain't no little girl no more (nope) That's for sure (Yup), Booty like Oh Wanna work it like a big girl let's explore. Drop it to the floor, booty get raw." He and his brother ended up being better actors than they are rappers, and should stick to it.