Bubblegums & Lolli-popsMusickReviews

Boybands: Boys, girls, the hysteria (part 2.)

It’s funny when you think about how NKOTB could end up as one of the many groups who simply didn’t make it. The debut album was viewed as a failure, but they were given one more chance…how they fared?

Before we’re gonna jump into the actual review, it’s worth noticing how big influence media had in the 1980’ and 1990s. Well, the beauty of public radio (but it was the case of MTV as well, as many of us older enough to remember when they actually used to play song videos instead of shitty reality TV) was in the fact you could actually make a star. Unlike today, when we have Youtube, Spotify and other means of listening to what we actually want to listen to, with curated playlists and stuff like this, when you listen to the radio (and especially, when you can’t really choose what radio to listen), with some songs, when played with enough regularity, you’re gonna end up liking them. Or, at least, not totally disliking them. My case in point – 4 Non Blondes and “What’s Up”. Didn’t like it when it’s been released, not liking it today, but I can accept it, although mainly due to the fact what nostalgia memories it brings. But that’s another story for another day.

NKOTB were lucky some station started to play their single “Please Don’t Go Girl”, which – between me and you – still sounds like mix between Milli Vanilli and The Jackson 5, with enough sugar content to cause a serious case of diabetes. Well, thankfully, they don’t make them like they used to do, lol.

Some twist of fate, wasn’t it? NKOTB have slowly risen to a fame, thanks to this album…so, let’s have a look..or listen.

Opening track is “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”, released as the second single from this album. Actually not a bad track at all, in its usual end of 1980s electronic drumkit glory. But very listenable, one just can’t stop wonder why Maurice Starr didn’t have it released as the prime single. Well, market research, I guess, so as the first single went the 2nd song on the tracklist, titled…

““Please Don’t Go Girl”. Yep, this one. I’ve already written something about it above, so not to repeat myself – why the hell you’re gonna repeat your mistakes from debut? No wonder their reception was less then stellar with it, my ears bleed!!!

And if that one was not enough, track number 3 is another bubblegum ballad, “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”. But thank God, it’s a little better than the previous one. Man, I’m used to 80s slow songs, but that…

Anyway, 4th track is “Cover Girl” (this album actually contains 3 songs with a word “girl” in the title), and I just want to turn that shit off. But I have to endure and finish it, you need to know about it! OK, the song is actually funny, something you would hear in the beginning of some family sitcom or similar stuff. I’m not hurt, it makes me laugh. Which is good, right? But I just can’t shake the ever-present feeling that we used to listen to a lot of bad stuff back then.

When you see a title like “I Need You”, you don’t have to think twice about it being a ballad or not. Of course, it’s a ballad! And your reviewer is slowly closing his eyes, and dreams of girls with a long perm hair, in that terrible 80s fashion clothing, bringing me a NKOTB branded chewing gum in a brand new NKOTB themed backpack…oh yeah, baby!!! No, no…stop it!!! Well, as for the ballad itself, they’re slowly (pun intended) getting better. But getting laid to this one, it’s just not gonna happen.

“Hangin’ Tough” is the #6 and along with the opener “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” it presents a fresh wind in the NKOTB’s repertoire. Finally. Still with a terrible electric drum beat, but at least liberated from this lollipop, sweet sound of previous ballads. Not that anyone would believe guys are rough, but give credit where it’s due, this one is deservedly better than the rest of their songs – and more memorable. I actually dig that phat bass line, it frikkin’ kills!

Number 7 and …not again!!!! Unfortunately, again, a ballad. “I Remember When” is another unfortunate filler and I remember when it was released I’ve been listening to different stuff…but at least it’s not overly long, so I’ve survived without much earache. No permanent damage.

“”What’cha Gonna Do (About It)” occupies the 8th position and it sounds like a song I just can’t remember the title of. It’s clear we have two sets of the formulas working here, those terrible ballads and other, more rhythm-oriented stuff. This song falls into the second category, therefore it’s more listenable than others, and I guess that’s all I can say about it. Yeah, and Joey still sounds as a litle Jacko.

We’re almost done! But first, track number 9 – “Favourite Girl”, and although I kinda hate that dumb cowbell sound here, it started pretty interestingly, just to be drowned in the part with their usual cheap-sounding keyboards. But again, kudos for the bass. The drums, on the other hand, evokes breakdance feel of the late 80s, and I am kinda OK with it, so thumb up.

Ladies and gentlemen, the last one!!! “Hold On”. Hmmmm…not bad, not bad…another one I could imagine as a part of some movie soundtrack. Have I mentioned the bass already? If there’s one thing I would thank Maurice Starr for, that the bass lines he did for this album.

Anyway, even this album, no matter how successful in time it has become, didn’t in no way betray how great a phenomenon boybands would later be.

But the best is yet to come…so stay tuned!

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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