Monday, March 14, 2011

I know I've talked enough about the New Kids On The Block and Jordan Knight to last a couple of lifetimes, but sometimes I just have nothing else to talk about that doesn't involve shopping! Just yesterday I watched some interview the supergroup (NKOTBSB, that is) did at the American Music Awards last year and asked myself, "Self, when is this man band going to release their album?"

Well I seem to have impeccable timing, as ever, when it comes to frivolous things as such. NKOTBSB (that is New Kids On The Block + Backstreet Boys) announced that they will be releasing their "greatest hits" plus a couple new tracks on May 24th ... and the fans will be able to dictate which tracks go on the album!

I'm no fan of greatest hits albums, unless the acts are long gone and I am only now discovering them. Back in the early '00s, the Backstreet Boys' record label pretty much released their greatest hits album in spite of the Backstreet Boys not wanting to do it. It remains, to this day, the sole Backstreet Boys album I do not own. Which means ... yes, I have pre-ordered the NKOTBSB album. I like both bands and don't own any hard copies of the New Kids' music, so the $12 is really not a huge drain to my pocket.

But I digress. What I really want to talk about is the 5 songs from each of the groups that deserve a spot on this greatest hits album.  The NKOTBSB site gives you some previous hits to work with, along with a fill-in "other" category.

I'll start with the Backstreet Boys, since I am more familiar with their material. I'll tell you straight off the bat that "Straight Through My Heart" has no place on this record. The New Kids have no songs off their most recent album on their suggested list for a reason. Y'all just released this album a little over a year ago, and it didn't even sound like you guys. Secondly -- this may not be a popular opinion, especially coming from a Backstreet Boys fan -- "I Want It That Way" is one of the worst Backstreet Boys songs ever. There, I said it.

I know why it's popular -- it came out at the height of their fame, after all the built-up anticipation following their debut American album. I remember exactly where I was the first, second and third times I heard "I Want It That Way", and then where I was, who I was with and what I was doing the day Millennium came out. It was a BIG DEAL for Backstreet Boys fans.

But still, it's a lousy song, lyrically. The lyrics make no sense. What "way" are we talking about, and does "that way" mean something different every time it is mentioned in this song? Is the last line meant to be a pun? Is this song positive or negative? If negative, why the heck is the song seemingly dedicated to the fans? It's been 12 years and I still haven't the foggiest idea what the Boys are talking about.

For those fans of "I Want It That Way", I point you to "Shape Of My Heart". Melodically, it is so incredibly similar to "I Want It That Way" that I was almost annoyed when it first hit radio. But the song actually makes sense, and means something. And after all these years, it has really grown on me and taken a special spot in my heart.

In the 13+ years I have been a fan of the Backstreet Boys, this 2000 performance over Times Square is by and far my favorite, favorite performance of theirs. The acoustic, the cold, the night ... something about it all is just a little magical.

So, my final choices for the Backstreet Boys: "Shape of My Heart", "As Long As You Love Me", "Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart)", "All I Have To Give" and "The One". ["Larger Than Life" was dedicated to the fans and should stay hidden, for the most devoted of fans.]

New Kids time.

I haven't pored over their entire catalogue, but I am familiar with their singles. And so, so glad that "Dirty Dawg" was left off the list. While I'm not in love with "Hangin' Tough" or most of the songs off the first album featuring a prepubescent-sounding Joey Joe, my absolute least favorite song on this list has got to be "Tonight".

Incidentally, this is another ode-to-the-fans type song. The lyrics are fine, awesomely punny in fact, if you are indeed a fan. But the classical harpsichord creeps me the eff out, I'm not going to lie. It reminds me of a Muppets movie gone terribly wrong, frozen helplessly in the '80s.

My favorite ... oh, it wavers between "Step By Step" and "If You Go Away". I suppose on most days it'd be "Step By Step", because you can dance to it and it's fun. My favorite NKOTB lyric (so far) goes to "Call It What You Want", though. Something about the line "there's something about you girl / what it is it's kinda hard to say" sends proverbial tingles down my spine. The message wraps itself up so perfectly along with the end of the musical phrase ... And because I'm a newbie, if I had to choose, I'd put "Click, Click, Click" on the album too, but honestly, that would be kind of pointless seeing as the album was just released in 2008.

So, my final choices for the New Kids On The Block: "Step By Step", "If You Go Away", "Call It What You Want", "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" [oh my God, Jordan sounds amazing in this song] and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)".

Since I posted my all-time favorite performance above for the Backstreet Boys, I am doing the same for the New Kids (again, with the "so far" disclaimer). There are so many things wrong with this performance of "This One's For The Children" (cheesiness of song, costumes, RAINBOW SEQUINS), but there is one thing very, very right with it: Jordan's voice is amazing in it. Even after croaking. I wish I could sing like that.

Sorry for the dissertation.  I'll try not to write at length about either band for at least the next week.

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