The Vermont Cynic

New Kids On The Block, actually Creepy Old Men


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The Block

(Interscope Records)

1 Star

Sounds like:

New Kids On The Block

Backstreet Boys

N’SYNC

Boy Bands Past Their Prime

There is an inherent absurdity to a boy band called New Kids On The Block reuniting after 14 years to put out a new album. The absurdity being, of course, that they’re not so new.

Yet this is exactly what they’ve done. All of them are pushing forty and four of the members have kids. The resulting album, simply titled “The Block,” is just about as laughable as one might expect.

“The Block” begins with “Click, Click, Click”, a slow, clap-along R&B jam that has the band crooning about taking mental pictures of a beautiful girl while she gets dressed. The lyrics are silly and the music is entirely forgettable, but the song becomes a genuine joke when the one time “bad boy” of the band, Donnie Wahlberg, attempts to regain (or simply gain?) some street cred by rapping. As a rule, thirty-nine year old white men should not rap, and Wahlberg is no exception.

The rest of the album follows the first track’s lead, toeing the line between terrible and ludicrous. By far the worst song on the album is “Sexify My Love”, whose title sounds like a rejected advertising slogan for Viagra, and whose lyrics, “I’m in the mood to give it to ya / Really gotta concentrate and now we’re gonna consummate” don’t help to dispel this theory.

“The Block” understandably dwells on the theme of aging. The song “Big Girl Now” less than subtly observes “I’m a big boy / you’re a big girl now”, but the music never quite matures along with the sentiment. The vocals still sound like those of eighteen year-olds and the music actually shows less sophistication than original NKOTB hits like “Step By Step” which was, at the very least, overwhelmingly catchy.

But maybe I’m simply outside the age bracket this music is supposed to appeal to. There is the right amount of vague sexuality in the lyrics and danceable – although hardly memorable – beats in these songs that they would be appropriate for a middle school dance. This raises the question, why would forty-year-old men want to make music for little girls?

Whatever the answer, New Kids On The Block wisely solicited help from artists popular among teenage crowds. Akon, The Pussycat Dolls, and Ne-Yo all make appearances and all steal the spotlight. The album’s first single, aptly called “Single,” lest anyone get conÂfused, is actually a half-decent dance song for the first thirty seconds, but that’s simply because it involves only Ne-Yo and a sample of Fergie’s “GlamÂorous” with no New Kids to be found.

At its best “The Block” sounds like a sub-par album put out by a band fifteen years younger than New Kids. At worst the new CD is an embarrassing self-parody and an unimaginative excuse to go on a reunion tour. New Kids On The Block should have retired with dignity and gotten a VH1 reality show. Like Flavor Flav, or something.

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New Kids On The Block, actually Creepy Old Men