Formed in 1984 by former New Edition mentor Maurice Starr, New Kids On The Block were created to be a white version of the teen group. They were a musical hybrid, mixing rap with pop, but in a safe, sanitised way.
They were ‘boyband’ pioneers: young pretty men singing to choreographed dance routines without an instrument in sight, alerting the music industry to the commercial possibilities of this format and reminding it once again that not all young teens with money to spend were anxious that their idols have creative credibility.
Their debut album, released in April 1986 – when none of the members were older than 16 – flopped, but follow-up LP Hangin’ Tough (September 1988) was a major breakthrough and presented them as urban, streetwise dudes, rapping and moving through slick dance routines.
The second single You Got It (The Right Stuff) was boosted by MTV before I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) hit #1 in America. From then on, they were a phenomenon.
The album title track reached the top of the charts in the US and then crossed over to the UK.
The Kids’ merchandising alone – including dolls, comic books, and even a television cartoon – generated untold riches.
In 1990 Rolling Stone magazine readers picked them as the Worst Band and Hangin’ Tough as the Worst Single, but they had a huge fan base.
Overexposure, though, brought the inevitable backlash and the boys split up in 1994.