Growing Up with Jordan Knight

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wow, what a great time to have discovered/rediscovered Jordan Knight.  This little infatuation I've had with him started a little under a month ago, and what do ya know, today he released his first pop radio single since 1999!  A song I actually recall, because that was during my period of "awakening" to pop culture.  Except I thought he was old and weird for doing some awkward dance moves while wearing that turtleneck and metallic-y leather jacket at an amusement park ... his pants were aight, though.

I didn't catch Jordan with the New Kids On The Block the first time around because I was too busy practicing the piano, taking dance classes and reading as many books as I could get my hands on.  Basically, being a good Asian daughter and having no idea how cut off from the world she was.

By the time I was in my teens, there was really nothing anyone could do to keep me from consuming pop culture.  More like inhaling it as if it were a drug.  In 1999, though, I was young and frivolous, so caught up in Nick Carter's boyishness and blonde good looks.  In comparison, Jordan's "tall, dark and handsome" look was too sinister (but so was virtually every other brunette over the age of 22) and his music too sexual.  If only teenaged me had known what Mr. Jordan Knight had looked like just 8 or 9 years earlier ... and WOW, did "Give It To You" give me a totally inaccurate representation of his personality.

(Which I'm curious about, actually.  For someone who has called himself shy, that's an odd song to record isn't it?)

So 12 years ago, I didn't really like "Give It To You".  My gripe with it then (and now, see how much I've changed!) was its talky-choppiness and general lack of melody.  It sounded too much to me that he was talking his way through the song.  It wasn't until his second single "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" came out that I realized he could actually sing well.  But he was still too "dark" and too "handsome" as opposed to "cute".

So here we are now, 12 years later.  I've listened to his new single "Let's Go Higher" about 3 times now and it's growing on me, but it still elicits a similar feeling in me as "Give It To You" does, even though this song actually has a melody and he actually sings on it.  Lyrically, I think the song is a little too superficial ... sure, other people have hit songs out now that are even more superficial (Usher, for one), but they are all incredibly catchy.  So far, this song has not made me want to get off my behind and dance.  (I am unusually lazy, however.)  I also find the beat is a little too in-your-face. And just as I thought in 1999, I feel Jordan is a little too old for this.  Not saying he should be doing adult contemporary or covers of love songs again, but I think R&B would suit his voice and image better.  To my knowledge, Enrique Iglesias is the oldest male solo R&B/dance artist on pop radio, and he's a good 5 years younger than Jordan.  And even he was better off doing his original Pop/R&B sound, but that's a different story altogether.

There are definitely redeeming qualities to "Let's Go Higher", and those parts ("ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh") are helping the song grow on me.  Both lyrically and vocally, "Let's Go Higher" actually reminds of one of David Archuleta's B-sides.  Like an older, raspier, grittier version ...

I would chuckle my head off if David Archuleta turned out like Jordan Knight.  They do both have Donny Osmond-esque qualities, but for entirely different reasons.  No, I wouldn't hate it.

Looking back at the "Give It To You" video now, I actually see lashings of New Kid Jordan, and he's baby-faced, so he actually looks quite young for the 28 years he had on him when he shot the video.  I don't like the message the video promotes, though -- that beauty is of utmost importance and everything else takes a backseat.  I'm sure I noticed it then, but I was more apt to buy into that sort of thing as a green teen.  Ah, how far we've all come.

(I'm on my 10th half-listen now and "Let's Go Higher" is definitely not a bad song.)

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