I Can Explain… NKOTBSB

Before I launch into this article, I want to make two observations about my subject matter. First, I spend a far larger proportion of my life hearing about NKOTBSB than I feel comfortable disclosing. And second, I write this article far more precariously than any others before. Because if I get anything wrong, I’m going to get flack from an army of loyal NKOTBSB fans (some of whom are uniquely positioned to cause me severe bodily damage if I were to, in any way, mar the name of NKOTBSB). So as I walk this tightrope… I can explain… the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys super boy band group/collaboration (NKOTBSB).

Let’s start by looking at the two bands separately.

New Kids on the Block (a musical staple for preteen girls in the late 80s) were one of the first mega boy bands. They were a highly produced group that started after producer Maurice Starr auditioned 500 boys and discovered 15-year old Donnie Wahlberg (younger brother of actor Mark Wahlberg). While the group’s first album got minimal airplay, their songs soon launched them to mega stardom. Their success took a generation of girls from playing patty cake to playing pop cassettes.

After topping the musical charts for half a decade, the band’s popularity eventually began to wan in the early 90s. But other boy bands were forming and breaking up in their absence. In this musical climate, rose our second band: The Backstreet Boys. Taking advantage of the boy band craze, this group (named after a flea market, randomly enough) started to put out musical hit after hit and remained popular early into the new millennium.

Both bands were touring in 2010 and after many rumours began to circulate, it was finally confirmed that the bands would be joining forces as a new “super band” on a new summer tour. They combined the bands name in one mouthful of an acronym (NKOTBSB) and have begun to tour Canada and the USA hoping to re-launch the boy band fad.

As a guy, I have been socialized to scoff at the whole genre of boy band music. But for a moment, I’ll overlook things like the irony of a highly-produced band that was created based on an already proven formula asking, “Am I original?” and look at the merits of this super group. Admittedly, the music isn’t horrible. It’s catchy. And watching nine grown men cram onto a stage and dance in sync without falling off has its entertaining elements. But more importantly, where I give credit to money-grabbing pop culture productions like this is in the happiness they bring. Their music brings a generation of young women back to a time when it was okay to dance like there was no one watching; when it was cool to wear suspenders and long socks; and when a musical group falling apart was the closest thing to heartbreak they’d ever experienced.

So if NKOTBSB wants to continue to produce new material like “Don’t Turn Out the Lights,” while frequently singing old favourites, power to them. I won’t be listening, but I can’t deny the smiles they bring and the cheers they incite.

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