How Teen Hijinks in a volatile city spawned a classic pop

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<p class = "canvas-atom-text-canvas Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "" If only we could replace Freddie Jackson with one of our own songs, "cracks an 18-year-old girl Donnie Wahlberg as he and his group companions New Kids on the Block crisscrossed the streets of Boston in the late 1980s to get to a basketball game. It was not because they did not like the R & B star – on the contrary, Donnie named "You Are My Lady" as one of his most influential ballads – but the idea of ​​producing a tube they could explode in town seemed self-evident. a distant dream as the group (Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and Wahlberg) continued to get rid of the flop which was their first title of the same name. "data-reactid =" 27 ">" If only we could swap Freddie Jackson for one of our songs, "revealed 18-year-old Donnie Wahlberg, and his bandmates of New Kids on the Block have Walked the streets of Boston in the last years of the decade, while they were going to a basketball game It was not because they did not like the star of the R & B – quite the contrary, Donnie quoted "You Are My Lady" as one of his most influential ballads – but the idea of ​​producing a tube they could blow up in town seemed like a distant dream that the group (Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight , Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and Wahlberg) They continued to get rid of the flop which was their first title of the same name.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Still, in the studio environment" the more disappointing "- the shabby studio on the second floor of musical producer Maurice Starr – NKOTB would create "Hangin 'Tough", perhaps the pinnacle of their creative output, and present songs that would go well beyond the cassette players of their cars for a period of 35 years. And all in the name of fun. "Data-reactid =" 28 "> Still, in the" most disappointing "studio environment – the shabby and second-floor studio of music producer Maurice Starr – NKOTB would create" Hangin 'Tough, "no doubt the pinnacle of their creative output, and featuring songs that would go well beyond the cassette players of their cars over the next 35 years – all in the name of fun.

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"Danny, Jordan and I are after school and playing basketball in the neighborhood. It's us three teenagers playing a group of 35-year-old men who get their ass kicked, "Donnie said before March 8. "Hangin 'Tough," 30th Anniversary Edition. "The recording was just an extension of the good time we had. We loved spending time together and music was a key part of that, but we saw it more often: "Okay, we can now replace" You Are My Lady "with" I & # 39; 'll Be Loving You (Forever)' in the cassette. bridge and drive while listening to that. "If this had been the extent of the place where [the music] gone, it would have always been worth every second. "

"It was quite obvious that they were doing it for joy," adds Doug Nichol, who made five videos for the group during the "Hangin 'Tough" period. "It shows how, in life, if you do something for fun, the money will eventually arrive."

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "There was a lack of money in Mauritius while He was out hunting for his next vocal group, because of his success with New Edition and their successful "Candy Girl." Determined to create a white version of the band, he discovered for the first time, with Mary Alford, longtime friend Mark Wahlberg and brother Donnie, who drew his friends Wood and the Knight brothers, and Jamie Kelly, who left early. "data-reactid =" 35 "> There was a lack of money in Mauritius, who was looking for his next male song, after winning the New Edition and their success" Candy Girl. "Determined to create A white version of the group, her long-time friend, Mary Alford, for the first time found Mark Wahlberg and his brother Donnie, who's friends Wood and the Knight brothers, as well as Jamie Kelly, who left early.

<p class = "web-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Mark also gave up to later train hip-hop Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch, top of the 1991 Good Vibrations hit list (co-written by Donnie), and then embark on a successful acting career. NKOTBThe success of. "data-reactid =" 36 "> Mark also left the group to later form the hip-hop band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and to climb to the top of the charts with the 1991 hit," Good Vibrations "(co – written by Donnie then says that the release of his younger brother was decisive for the success of NKOTB.

"I think everything went perfectly smoothly," he says. "Mark was supposed to be on the path he was following, and the nice thing is that New Kids has become more and more successful – and more and more critics – who have inspired me to write and produce music. which led to Marky Mark's music. I wrote these songs to prove myself to the world as a composer and producer. That gave me a great chance to help Mark get out of the street and find something to do with his life, and also for me to have a voice outside of Maurice Starr. "

<p class = "canvas-atom-canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "" I do not know if that would have Donnie continues: " I do not know if the success of the New Kids would have taken place. I think Joey McIntyre played the role Mark would have played if Mark had stayed. And Mark's talent speaks for itself, but I'm not sure that Mark Wahlberg Joey McIntyre would have been better than Joey McIntyre! "" data-reactid = "38"> "I do not know if it would have happened if Mark had stayed in the group," Donnie continues. "I do not know I think Joey McIntyre would have played the role Mark would have played if Mark had stayed in. And Mark's talent speaks for itself, but I'm not sure Mark Wahlberg would have been a better Joey McIntyre than Joey McIntyre! "

Jordan adds, "Mark has a lot of charisma and strength, but Mark probably would not have been able to sing" Please Do not Go Girl "like Joe!"

With Joey, the teenagers continued the "Hangin 'Tough" journey in the midst of social and political turmoil in Boston. A court-mandated desegregation bus system was in place, requiring students to be transported between predominantly black and white areas and schools to help combat racial conflict and imbalance. It was during these rides from Dorchester to Roxbury that Donnie befriended Danny, Jon and Jordan, and this experience also shaped his musical tastes, cultural sensitivity and the ease with which he sailed. in his hometown, then unstable.

"We were taken to a predominantly black school and exposed to music and culture that we might not have been otherwise," he says. "We never felt out of our environment and we would not be here if it was not. They intended to bring people together to get to know each other and to be exposed to different things and that's what happened to us. "

"Maurice Starr 's house was less than one kilometer from the school where we were going by bus, so when the time came to go, I thought to myself: is right next to my school – yeah, I'll go! ", while other kids who were not I may not know this neighborhood, he adds. "The image of this Boston period is hurting so far, but suffering this injury has opened the door to healing and growth, and I would like to think that new kids are part of that growth."

What Maurice Starr lacked financial means, he caught up with enthusiasm. The young children were not disturbed by the wires, the dust covers and a gaping hole in the wall. Without windows, they had to pause to record each time a siren sounded. or a truck roars past. Between sessions, they played ping-pong with broken bats on a piece of plywood fixed above the barricades. "We did not know better," Donnie laughs. "None of us had ever owned a real ping pong table!

"It was a rundown house with a makeshift studio, but for us it was great," says Jordan. "It was a playground."

The recording was an incoherent process, but unlike their first recording, the group was more active behind the scenes, Danny being notably learning and managing much of the engineering and development. production. Maurice, who wrote each piece, jumped from time to time in the studio with the next hit.

"Unexpectedly, it would go away, J! I have a song for you, and I would be very excited, "recalls Jordan. "I still remember when he arrived saying," I have a song for you, J – it's called "The Right Stuff", and I start singing it. "

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The most powerful song that Maurice would bring to Jordan was the ballad "I'll love you (forever)". This song was one of the many unplaced songs from Maurice's cassette collection, having written it for someone else.

"He said that he had written" I'm going to love (forever) "with Smokey Robinson in mind," recalls Jordan. "Maurice grew up in the Motown era. He loved The Jackson 5 and all he did was an ode to Motown. He was tired of it and thought it would be my voice. As soon as he started playing for me, it was of a haunting beauty. "

Jordan went home and played the demo for his mother and his girlfriend, who liked him, while Danny recorded a recording of the song for his dead mother, Betty, who said, "You have a success!"

"My mother said the same thing," recalls Donnie. "My mother guessed every # 1 record in my family's history, including when I played Marky Mark's" Good Vibrations "demo!"

Jordan says he "tediously" recorded the piece, using a technique common to Motown's music, to perfect his vocals, re-record them as tightly as possible for the first time, and then overlay them. two pieces together to create a "warmer" sound. . The endearing song became NKOTB's first No. 1 hit, and Jordan says being able to sing night after night on his tour 30 years later is a "blessing".

The first single of the album, "Please Do not Go Girl", entitled "Please Do not Go Girl", will be the first commercial success of NKOTB. The song erupted after a video clip directed by Doug Nichol was sent to radio stations across the United States, which prompted many people to play the piece. "It gave people a visual of the group," said the director of California Typewriter. "We really captured their camaraderie and the girls from all over the country fell in love with it."

The ballads aside, Danny headed to the song "Hold On," while Donnie sang "Cover Girl," one of the two songs (with "I Need You") that Maurice was recording with a band of rock. "We prayed [for] these disks, "says Donnie. "Looking back, 'Cover Girl' was not there because it was more pop-rock and our songs were more R & B-pop, but it was a success. At this point, it was about finding the best material, not about singing about puppy love. "

"I did not plan to sing the entire song myself, but during that time we ended up," he adds. "Jordan has a soulful voice, so we discovered that R & B ballads suited him well. "Cover Girl" was more granular and suited my natural voice better than making me croon like Joey or Jordan. The guys were singing a role, and then two days later, someone else was singing it. Maurice started with me as lead singer of "What'cha Gonna Do (About)", and when I returned to the studio, Jordan replaced me. Ironically, the part I hated the most was the one Maurice kept with me! Maurice's thing was, "We must have 100%." If a guy sounded good at 80% for the role, he would probably be replaced by someone who would sound 100%. Fortunately, we did not take it personally. "

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Of course, a song where the five members have regrouped together was "Hangin 'Tough." As Jordan fondly remembers:
"We gathered around the microphone, singing the chorus while playing one to the other, laughing." The track was supposed to be a hymn for their basketball hero, the Boston Celtics, but it also reflected NKOTB's difficult journey, involving limited finances, degraded recording conditions, and criticism of those who described the group as a fanfare. data-reactid = "77"> Of course, a song where the five members were gathered was "Hangin 'Tough". As Jordan fondly reminds:
"We gathered around the microphone, singing the chorus while playing one to the other, laughing." The track was supposed to be a hymn for their basketball hero, the Boston Celtics, but it also reflected NKOTB's difficult journey, involving limited finances, degraded and critical recording conditions from those who described the group as a fanfare.

"All we wanted to do was prove we could go further, we could make a record, stand up to adversity and gain a little respect," Donnie recalls. "We did not necessarily think of selling as many records or becoming a phenomenon. We just wanted to prove that people were wrong and show our belonging. Of course, when we finally arrived, we did not prove it to everyone … we proved it to ourselves. "

The success of "Hangin 'Tough" propelled the five young men into a vertiginous roller coaster ride. Posters, dolls, magazine covers and concerts around the world have generated a dedicated fan base of "Blockheads" and have helped the band sell more than 80 million albums.

"The first video I made was" Please Do not Go Girl, "it was five kids and nobody noticed us on the street," says director Doug Nichol. "By the time I made the film, Hangin Tough, there were bodyguards and a crowd of crying girls screaming. Every time I came back to work with them, the fan base was bigger and bigger. It was a bit of what the Beatles mania was supposed to be, with crazy fans trying to meet these guys. They were just in their hotel room struggling with pillows and trying to stay healthy in the face of madness. "

For Jordan, it was in Boston after the band's first tour that it was obvious that life had changed dramatically. "We went on tour with Tiffany and I remember going home and it was like," Wo. It's different. We are famous. You have to act a little differently now, "he said. "Not in the wrong way, but I could not just run around the streets or go to a mall."

"Hangin & # 39; Tough" will be eight platinum certified and will be followed by "Step By Step" in 1990 and "No More Games" in 1994. Jonathan leaves the band mid-way in 1994 amid struggles of Anxiety, and others dissolved soon after.

Fourteen years later, the Blockheads were delighted with the announcement of an album of reunions and returns in 2008, "The Block." It featured Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo cameos and was followed by a tour and two other studio releases, the EP "10" of 2013 and the EP "Thank You" of 2015. The edition of 30th Anniversary of "Hangin & # 39; Tough" also contains three new tracks, including "The way you should be loved" and "80s Baby", with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Naughty By Nature and Salt-N-Pepa, all two of whom join the NKOTB on their Mixtape Tour, Cincinnati, May 2

Donnie, for one, is not surprised by the idea that the music they produce today is unlikely to have the same level of mass and monumental impact as Hangin 'Tough. . "How lucky are we that our album is even memorized? And that this album, which came from a turbulent city during the most humble periods of turbulent origins, is being recalled to this day. It's a blessing. Of course, do I think we made better albums? Absolutely. If all the new kids voted, Hangin 'Tough would probably be in the last two! "

"I always feel pride," says Jordan. "A few days ago," The Goldbergs "was on TV and they were talking about" The Right Stuff "and playing it. My son was not there when it was a big hit, so sitting in the living room with our song and hearing our song and people talking about his father on TV, it was a moment of pride, of course. "

Thirty years later, being part of a group of boys also gives rise to greater pride – a celebration that the group celebrates in "Boys in the Band," another new title in the new version of "Hangin & # 39; Tough. " Co-written by Donnie, the song and accompanying video pay tribute to artists such as New Edition, Backstreet Boys, O-Town, 98 Degrees, Take That, One Direction and BTS (to look below) ).

"The million dollar question with a song like" Boys in the Band "is whether the environment has been changed to become a group of boys, which would encourage me to write a song like this or change my feeling enough to be in a group of boys. to have me write it? "It's probably both. I do not know where this song comes from, but the reaction to boys' groups is certainly different from 30 years ago and I am proud of our journey. I think you must have had a career that covers a while so you can look back and do a song like this. I do not know if we could have done this song 30 years ago because I do not know if we would have deserved it. I think that now we have deserved it.

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