Call it what you want, baby, but I still call it love.
Last night the recently reunited New Kids on the Block played Madison Square Garden in New York City. I personally did not attend; one New Kids show at Alpine Valley in 1989 was enough for me. My sister, however, bought tickets the moment they went on sale six months ago, snuck out of work and caught most of their set.
Most people will probably scoff, roll their eyes or ironically titter at the thought of NKOTB reuniting to tour the world. These guys, after all, are not only has beens, but also New Edition rip-offs, the Elvis to Bobby Brown’s Chuck Berry, who preceded the Boy Band craze of the ’90s. What New Kids on the Block and bands reuniting represent, however, is something more than music, something more emotionally powerful and far more compelling as a lucrative commercial tool. They represent the lure of Nostalgia.
Listening to NKOTB and seeing them perform live in concert isn’t about the now, it’s about the then. Feeling what you felt at the age of 12, lip-syncing the Right Stuff into a flashlight as your microphone, honing the dance, running shoulder to shoulder with a crowd in search of lawn seats at an open outdoor amphitheater. How were the New Kids last night? It doesn’t matter since everyone in the sold-out Garden saw what they wanted to see – a flashback to their adolescence when time and markets didn’t matter. There are no glasses rosier than the bifocals of nostalgia. NKOTB is your fat girlfriend, the one only you can love.
Which is why the New Kids on the Block deserve to be evaluated not for who they are now but for what they were 20 years ago. Sure, Donny dropped trou a lot last night, showing off the requisite white boxer briefs of faux hip hop style. John stood awkwardly to the side as Danny breakdanced and Jordan broke it down. Wahlberg’s voice may have even cracked during the more trying parts of Covergirl. Whatever. Walk with us down memory lane and tell us you’re bigger than nostalgia.
[Embedding disabled by request, wah]
According to my sister a memorable moment of the show came during Jordan Knight’s I’ll Be Loving You Forever. He ditched the fedora and pool cue of the video and instead rocked the MJ/Enrique open white button down flowing in the wind.
Please Don’t Go Girl
There’s a beautiful symmetry to NKOTB videos. Start with some gritty, urban landscape as indicated by a bridge or Welcome to Brooklyn sign; show the boys strolling through a street environment with high tops, high fades, high waters and high fives; cut to a performance in some empty, dilapidated space that only the New Kids can seek out like the Hardy Boys on a mission.
This was Joey McIntyre’s jam back in the day. Apparently it was last night, too. As our taciturn correspondent at the show last night informed us over g-chat this morning , “Joey did good.”
According to our correspondent, “Tonight was a HIT…I mean ridiculous.” The Kids moved to a circular stage in the middle of the crowd where Joey jumped on the keys to interlude with some “New York, New York” by Sinatra before melting Madison Square hearts with this unlikely, off-kilter party anthem.