Countdown to NKOTBSB: My top 10 favorite New Kids songs

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today is the big day! Sort of. It wasn't all that long ago that I'd written off this NKOTBSB tour, but here I am ... going to tonight's show in New Jersey. I thought I'd do a little tip of the hat to the New Kids On The Block, my impetus for going to see this show anyway (I saw the Backstreet Boys last summer and I've seen them do all their classics more times than I can remember).

I've had 4 months now to familiarize myself with the New Kids On The Block discography and while I can't say I know every single song by heart (in fact there are some songs I think I've only listened to once or twice), I do have some favorites. I've found that I like the New Kids On The Block's music best in an anti-chronological order (favorite album: probably "The Block," though "Face The Music" is very close behind. Least favorite ... well, it's a toss-up between their debut album and the Christmas album), my ten favorite New Kids songs are spread fairly evenly among the albums.

1. "I Can't Believe It's Over" (1994)
I'm biased; I like Jordan. But this song is incredible vocally, rhythmically, even lyrically. I hear something new each time I listen to it, and I marvel at the ability Jordan possesses each time. The beat not only reflects the mood, but drives it, and it's just ... perfect, really.

2. "Coming Home" (2010)
While this wasn't exactly a song released to the masses, I think it's one of the New Kids' best. They've done multiple versions of the "hey girl, I've missed you but I'm coming back for you" type of song, but I think this one takes the cake. Maybe because I lean towards pop/R&B as opposed to straight-up pop ("Summertime") or the psychedelic ("Tonight"). But there's also something kind of regretful about this song that gives it a more mature flavor that I like.

3. "Click Click Click" (2008)
For me, this song represents the entire "The Block" album ... and probably rightfully so, since it's also the song that heralded the entire reunion. It's an incredibly sexy song, but without being over-the-top like "Sexify My Love," and carries the general mood of the entire album.

4. "If You Go Away" (1992)
I guess I'm still more of a ballad girl. I like the step towards a more mature sound here, and I think Joey and Jordan really sound like men in this song and not just boys. I love, love, love the "extended" version of it, with the harmonization. There are elements to this song that plant it firmly in the early '90s ... this song, more than most of the other New Kids songs, makes me feel sentimental about the '90s and I think it has to do with the synthesizer, the chimes, and its misty qualities.

5. "Step By Step" (1990)
This one never gets old, and I couldn't tell you why. I love everything about this song, including the a cappella beginning and especially the fact that I still can't get the alternating choruses "right". My favorite part has got to be the "rrrrrrock!" growl they do towards the beginning. The song's so infectious and fun, and there's something very classic about this that keeps it fresh -- hopefully for generations to come.

6. "You Got The Flavor" (1994)
I shouldn't enjoy this song, but I do. It's so fresh and funky, and I guess it's nice to hear something a little more honest, or at least something that isn't all butterflies and rainbows and that sort of thing. It's a real pity the "Face The Music" album didn't do all that well, because the music that came out of it was really current for its time and really pretty good.

7. "Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It" (1988)
This and my next favorite, "Call It What You Want," are fairly similar to one another, but this one is a little rougher (less polished) and more clearly a song of the '80s. To me, this song is quintessentially New Kids On The Block and exactly the type of music that makes them seem so much more fun than all the other boy bands to come. "Sooner or later, love's gonna get ya ..." It's just so damn catchy.

8. "Call It What You Want" (remix released 1991)
I prefer the remixed version of this -- it's just a tad more contemporary than the original album version. In any case, this is another song just screams "fun!" and "New Kids!" to me. And I've written about this before, but one of the lines makes me dizzy with excitement because of how perfectly it sums up a thought in time with rhyme: "You know there's somethin' about you girl, what it is it's kinda hard to say."

9. "Never Let You Go" (1994) / "Games" (remix released 1991)
I cheated here, obviously. They're very, very different songs and to be perfectly honest, I probably like "Never Let You Go" more. But there's just something about "Games" that makes it difficult for me to leave it off the list entirely.

"Never Let You Go" is sexy, smart, smooth. It contains another of my favorite New Kids lyrics: "I will never let you ... think that I am someone that I'm not." I like the use of the chorus to kick off the second verse, and I like the sentiment. I also like Donnie's slow, kind of sleepy rap in it. Are those saxes I hear? Maybe I've been influenced by the music video, but this song does give me a very sleek, city-like nighttime feeling.

In comparison, "Games" is kind of rude and definitely crude, but smart(-assed). This is another one whose remix I like better than the original. I love the expert mixing and layering of vocals -- the "uh!", Jordan's falsetto, Joey's voice ... The original version of this song seems kind of sluggish and insincere, almost, because of its somewhat cheerful instrumentals. Plus, what would "Games" be without Donnie's irreverent intro?

10. "Are You Down?" (1986)
This one I like because it's so gosh-darn cheesy. But it never fails to put a smile on my face. My favorite is the opening dialogue, but Joey is ridiculously (and possibly unintentionally) funny in this. "I'd take her out to dinner, treat her like a winner -- I might be young, but I'm no beginner!" The chorus is of the infectious bubblegum variety, something I've never really been able to turn my back on.

I'd like to think that the lines written for each individual New Kid reflect their individual personalities. I feel similarly about "I Wanna Be Loved By You," but that is just pure cheese. "Are You Down?" has many redeeming qualities, but mainly it has a fantastic chorus. I've even memorized the shoutouts in the song, in the correct order. "Boston! Are you down? New York! Are you down? ... Maurice Starr! Are you down? Michael Jonzun! Are you down? Mary Ann! Are you down?" So on and so forth. (I crack up at "Mary Ann" each time. I'd really like to know who Mary Ann is.)

This song is the real winner, not the lucky gal who little Joey Joe wined (let's hope not) and dined.

Honorable mentions: "I'll Be Missin' You Come Christmas (A Letter To Santa)", "Don't Cry" and "Girls"

I do have a burning question, though. Is it just me or has Jordan's voice gotten progressively higher over the years? I noticed a huge difference in his voice -- which sort of paralleled the changes in his physical appearance -- between the "Step By Step"/"No More Games" albums and "Face The Music". Yes?

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