New Kids on the Block: 8 Things to Know About New Biography
The boy band, whose bio hits stores Tuesday, was initially marketed to a surprising audience, wrote "Hangin' Tough" with a sports team in mind and employed a future "American Idol" judge as a backup dancer.
Attention Blockheads: The authorized biography of New Kids on the Block hits bookstores Tuesday.'
The book, titled New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters, traces the Boston-based boy band's rise to become arguably the biggest recording act of the late '80s/early 90s to their breakup a few years later to their reunion in 2008 and their joining forces with Backstreet Boys for a wildly successful summer 2011 tour.
Author Nikki Van Noy interviews all five members of NKOTB -- Donnie Wahlberg, brothers Jordan and Jon Knight, Joe McIntyre and Danny Wood -- along with several fans, although songwriter-producer Maurice Starr, who created NKOTB but later parted ways with the group, isn't quoted here. The bio, from Simon & Schuster's Touchstone Books, retails for $25.
Here are eight things revealed in the 256-page tome.
1. Because of their R&B sound, NKOTB was initially promoted to black radio stations.
According to the book, a "great misconception" about the group is that record label execs created the group to fill a void in the marketplace for young white girls. But, as Jordan Knight says, the strategy simply arose because of Starr's connections in the black market." "Even when we went to CBS, we were in the black division," he adds. "No one ever thought, 'Um, these kids are white. Maybe white kids would like 'em too."
2. The turning point for the group came when Randy Kabrich, a DJ at Q105 in Tampa, Fla., discovered "Please Don't Go Girl."
The song went on to become the station's No. 1 most requested at the time, which prompted the record label to change its marketing strategy to begin targeting pop radio.
3. The Hangin' Tough album was recorded in less-than-ideal conditions.
The recording for group's second album was done in a makeshift studio in Starr's perennially under-construction home. The temporary studio had no vocal room, and there was plastic on the windows to try to drown out the sounds from outside. "If you solo the tracks on Hangin' Tough," says Jordan Knight, "you'll hear babies crying, you'll hear sirens, you'll hear a lotta stuff in the background."
4. The song "Hangin' Tough" was written with NBA's Boston Celtics in mind.
"We literally set out to do a song that could be a theme song for the Celtics," Wahlberg says. "That was the idea: blatantly trying to sound like Queen's 'We Will Rock You.'"
5. Jordan Knight isn't really a huge Batman fan.
In the video for 1989's "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," the singer is seen wearing a Batman T-shirt. But it wasn't one of his own; he actually wore it simply because "the stylist brought it, and i just gravitated toward that shirt. I like the colors, it was cool and young, and so I wore it." But soon after the video began airing, fans began sending him Batman T-shirts, so then he started wearing those, which continued to fuel the idea that he was a Batman fan. "Honestly, when the  Batman movie came out, I actually feel asleep in the theater because I didn't like it," he admits.
6. The Step by Step album wasn't what the group had in mind for their Hangin' Tough follow-up.
NKOTB wanted more input in the songwriting and production process, but the group members say they actually had less input, with Starr doing most of the creative work. Although Wahlberg considers it a better album than Hangin' Tough, "it needed just a little more grit," he says. Wahlberg actually wanted to incorporate some of the rappers the New Kids were fans of: "The crossover music that everyone does today. I wanted to do it then."
7. Jonathan Knight left the group in 1994 not just because of his panic attacks and anxiety, a commonly held belief.
The singer, who was inadventently outed by former tourmate Tiffany in 2011, says that hiding his sexuality also became tiring. "I was so run down," he says. "I had just been in a couple relationships with guys, and nobody knew. I knew I didn't want to be confined anymore. I think I was dealing with my inner demons."
8. Jennifer Lopez once was a backup dancer for the group.
The future actress/singer/American Idol judge -- a then-unknown backup dancer -- performed with NKOTB at the 1991's American Music Awards. The performance marked a departure from the prevous year's AMAs -- where the group believed they had played it too "safe" -- with an "in-your-face" version of the remixed "Games."
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