Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You might want to sit down for this one…

No really, are you sitting down?


I have to tell you something and I don’t know how you’ll react. This is very scary for me because I hate feeling judged and your opinion of me means everything, so please, no matter what comes out of my mouth, promise you won’t think less of me.

Ok, here goes. *deep breath*

I bought the New Kids On The Block Album and I LOVE IT!!


OWWWWWW! What the … Did you just throw your SHOE at me?? GAWD, it stings… am I bleeding?

Reeva defends himself, after the jump…

Come on, you’ve done things you’re not proud of, too. We all have. I didn’t know I would love this album. And I definitely didn’t think I’d love it enough to come clean with you – in public, no less – so give me some credit.

Let’s go back in time to, say, second grade (maybe third), when NKOTB ruled the world with their bedsheets and fruit snacks and rat-tails. They were seen everywhere, on and in and on top of and behind everything – an apocalyptic product of the American pop culture machine, The Five Bedazzled Horsemen. I think they also sang and stuff, but perhaps we will never know, because very few actually heard them perform music, and why? Because of all the screaming.

Oh, the screaming… the interminable, mind-numbing, ear-splitting screaming. Yes, the schoolgirls of my generation broke their figurative lust-hymens (not to mention their voiceboxes) against the glossy visages of Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Donnie, and Danny in their Tiger Beat magazines. Many believe the irrepressible, animal-like sexuality of these five beings caused the premature and spontaneous onset of puberty in millions of teenage girls, from the US to Japan to Europe to the Moon and back, affecting the tides and causing mild but nonetheless devastating shifts in the world’s supply of scrunchies.

The adults, at the time, were powerless against the legions of horny, over-sexed teenage girls, and many believed it was the end of days. Who can blame them really? Those girls were monsters. Meanwhile, I, along with every other boy of 10-12, was all, “Huh?”

I didn’t get it. But then again, I didn’t have a vagina (still don’t, if you’re wondering), so maybe I wasn’t supposed to get it. All I knew was: these guys kind of suck. It wasn’t until several years later that I started to sort of get it, thanks to the late, but potent development of my gayness. So, ok, they were sort of cute (esp. Joey), but even I knew that the music was crap.

Fast forward to high school, a magical time of repression and bad poetry, and the era of the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. At this point, I hadn’t quite claimed my gayness, but it was most certainly present, especially when there were flags to twirl or pink polo shirts to wear. Again, I was asked to stand aside while my friends (yep, all girls) whipped themselves into a frothy, frenetic frenzy over a group of carefully chosen, not-yet-old-enough-to-shave, male archetypes. Except this time… I would not be left out. I loved the boy bands in secrecy and silence. Maybe I couldn’t scream myself hoarse about it, and maybe I had to pretend I hated them to avoid being slammed into lockers, but in my heart of hearts… I loved me some Justin Timberlake.

Boy bands are like herpes… they come and go. Now that I’m out and proud and totally unashamed of my tacky tastes, I’ve been waiting patiently for the next iteration, and I promised myself that this time I would totally scream my 27 year old lungs out. I’m making up for lost time, you see… Unfortunately, all I’ve been given so far is The Jonas Brothers and… no thanks. But all of this goes a long way to make you understand WHY I was moved to lift the new NKOTB album off the shelves, and WHY I walked with it all the way to the checkout (any number of people saw me), and WHY I was able to purchase it without turning beat red under the judgmental eyes of the salesgirl.

This is about justice. This is about righting what was wrong. I was meant to love this boy band, and by GOD, I will love them.

Of course, I didn’t think for a second that the album would be any good. In fact, I was prepared for it to be a complete aural disaster. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This album is FANTASTIC.


Did you just throw your OTHER shoe!? What’s with you today? If you have no more podiatric projectiles, may I continue? Thank you.

When the boys announced their reunion back in April, I was dubious. I think I might have thought it was a joke. Like, I specifically remembered channeling Wayne Campbell, as in, “Sha… right!” In my assessment, the resulting enthusiasm from the populace had more to do with nostalgia, rather than excitement about new material. But, you know, I didn’t have that problem (if you can call it a problem). I have no fond or sentimental feelings about the music these boys put out 15 years ago, and when pressed, I can only name three or four of their songs. I’m actually more attached to Weird Al Yankovic’s satiric spin and ode to Oreos, The White Stuff. Indeed, I came into this venture with a completely open mind.

That open mind has served me well, apparently, because this album, while still very much in the boy band aesthetic, is totally current. With the help of some of today’s hottest producers like Akon, Ne-Yo, RedOne, and Timbaland, the boys have placed themselves directly in the music trends of the day, and they pull it off. As an aside, I’m starting to hate Timbaland a little bit. His influence on hip-hop and pop music is so overwhelming, and his sound has become so recognizable, that I’m starting to feel guilty loving every single song he produces. I’m starting to think I’d like just about anything as long as he’s behind the wheel. Anyway, back to the point… I think the boys deserve some credit for having their fingers on the pulse, because it would have been easy to just schlock together some retro sounding crap that recaptured their glory days. It was smart to move towards the light, lyrical hip-hop dominating the charts these days, because their slightly more grown-up subject matter and still excellent harmonies lend themselves perfectly to the genre.

The first single was Summertime which, I’m not going to lie, is not my favorite song on the album. I like the sound of it enough, but I don’t think it could be any cheesier. Like you could totally serve this on nachos. The video is also kind of ridiculous. I mean, I’m a little creeped out by five 30-40 year old guys singing about summer flings. There’s something statutory about it, yes? Anyway, here it is. But before you clickie… I’m just going to go out a limb and advise you not to watch at all. I mean, this video is so corny that I’m afraid it could debunk everything I’ve been rambling about since I started this post, namely, that this CD is good. So take my advice and hit play, minimize like the wind, and play mindsweeper or something. Or Freecell if you prefer. (Solitaire? That’s not even challenging…).

The next single is called, strangely enough, Single, and this song I totally love. Good harmonies, good beats, and not quite as pedo. Again, though, this video… I don’t know. The boy band posturing, most egregiously perpetrated by Jordan Knight, is just not attractive on guys this age. But I suppose this is what the nostalgic fans want to see, because it takes them back to when that crap was hot.

The album has even better stuff on it. My personal fav is Twisted (this is the Timbaland joint). Click the link to listen – I’m not responsible if the video has been removed – you have to act fast ‘round here.

There are moments of genius, too. The track with Lady Gaga entitled Big Girl Now is a calculated and very appropriate shout-out to their fans, now full grown women in their 20s (or even older). I think it was smart to recognize the fact that their demographic has matured and moved on to other things, but also prove that they have, too, and are perfectly capable of making the ladies dance and sing and scream and carry on just like they did in ‘92.

Full discloje: there are some clunkers here and there. The Pussycat Dolls collaboration is trash, for one. And all the lyrics on the album are pretty generic and cliché, when they aren’t uproariously inane, like the song Full Service, an extended metaphor in which the girl is a car and NKOTB is the fueling station (I know, ew). And there are two, I said TWO, songs dealing with the act of videotaping the act of love. And then there’s the song called Sexify My Love, which… whoever wrote that lyric wasn’t even trying. All of that said, the music is really great. I tend to be lenient on these pop albums because I’m not much for lyrics anyway, but if you are, well… just pretend it’s in Spanish or something.

And so, to end in that shallow place in which I spend the majority of my time, I will say that Joey is more attractive now than he was when he was posing for Tiger Beat, and that’s something I can appreciate.

And they’re all looking good here… I vehemently approve the suits. God, guys are so sexy in suits.


Anonymous said...

I will not speak to you for seven days. that is your punishment. that is all.

Erin G said...

I got it then, and I get it now, and I applaud you for hopping on the wagon. nkotb rocks my face off.

Stephen said...

Just to let you know, we covered this blog post over at SpartanburgSpark.com and SparkleCityBlogs.com


Erin G said...

I love that spartanburg even has a local blog listing! and I love even more that yours is DEFINITELY the best (and most relevant to the most populations) of any they reference. you're a regular over there!

Stephen said...

It's not like we've got a lot of pop culture blogs here in Spartanburg, so this one is a welcome addition. Plus, the writing is always sharp and snappy here, which isn't always the case with local blogs.

By the way, we're planning on having a Sparkle City Blogs meet up -- our second thus far -- on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Monsoon Noodle House in downtown Spartanburg. You're definitely invited. Check out SparkleCityBlogs.com for more information about it.

Erin G said...

his writing IS sharp and snappy! which is why I read. even though I'm not in the sparkle. (I'm ok with that though.)

Reeva*Dubois said...

That's me - sharp and snappy. And pop culturey.

Thanks for the linkage, Stephen!

And Erin, I heart that we're each other's biggest fans...