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Music / New Edition

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Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike
If I like the girl, who cares who you like?
Ralph, "Cool It Now"

New Edition is an American R&B male music group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1978, that was most popular during the 1980s. They were the progenitors of the boy band movement of the 1980s and 1990s and led the way for groups like New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men. At the height of their early popularity in 1983, the group consisted of Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe, and Ralph Tresvant. Early hits included songs like 1983's "Candy Girl" and 1984's "Cool It Now".

The group would perform all around Massachusetts and would eventually land a spot at a talent show which was run by Maurice Starr. The first prize was $500.00 and a recording contract. Though New Edition came in 2nd place, Starr decided to bring the group to his studio the following day to record what would become their debut album, Candy Girl. Recorded in late 1982 and released in 1983 on Starr’s Streetwise Records, the album featured the hits: "Is This The End," "Popcorn Love," "Jealous Girl" and the title track, which went to number one on both the American R&B singles chart and the UK singles chart.

Returning from their first major concert tour, the boys were dropped back off to their homes in the projects and were given a check in the amount of $1.87 a piece for their efforts. Tour budget and expenses were given as the explanation as to why they were not paid more. Due to financial reasons, New Edition parted company with Starr in 1984 (Starr responded by promptly creating the group New Kids on the Block; essentially formatted after New Edition, but with white teenagers.) The group, meanwhile, hired the law-firm of Steven and Martin Machat and sued Streetwise for relief from a contract that was unenforceable as well as materially breached by Streetwise. The Machat's won the legal game and then secured the group a huge recording deal with MCA after holding a bidding war among all the major recording labels. The band, in need of management, signed with Steven Machat and his two management partners Rick Smith and Bill Dern. The management company was called AMI and AMI proceeds to break the group both in the urban and pop world. MCA, through the production affiliate of AMI, Jump and Shoot, released the groups self titled second album the same year. Eclipsing their debut album, New Edition spun off the top five hit "Cool It Now" and the top twenty "Mr. Telephone Man," and went on to be certified double platinum in the United States.

In December 1985, under pressure from MCA and their management, the group voted Bobby Brown out, due to behavioral problems (a move they regretted years later according to Michael Bivins). Brown left in late 1985 to embark on a successful solo career in 1986, while New Edition continued to promote All for Love as a quartet. In spite of their financial and internal conflicts, New Edition continued to peak. During this era of the group's evolution, the group appeared in the episode of Knight Rider titled "Knight Song", performing "Count Me Out." As 1986 wound to a close, they recorded a cover of The Penguins 1954 hit "Earth Angel" for the soundtrack to The Karate Kid, Part II. The song peaked at #21 and inspired the group to record Under the Blue Moon, an album of doo-wop covers. The group continued for a time with four members, but eventually recruited singer Johnny Gill to record their 1988 album Heart Break. The group went on hiatus in 1990, while its various members worked on side projects, such as the group Bell Biv DeVoe. Gill and Tresvant also recorded successful solo albums.

The group, including Bobby Brown, reunited in 1996-1997 for the album Home Again, but during the ill-fated follow-up tour both Brown and Bivins quit the group, and the tour had to be canceled. Various reunions have occurred since, usually with the 1987-1990 lineup, though occasionally also including Bobby Brown. Their last studio release was 2004's One Love. By 2010, two New Edition descendants were recording and touring: Bell Biv DeVoe, and Heads of State (featuring Brown, Tresvant, and Gill). Since 2011, all six members have toured on-and-off as New Edition.

In 2017, BET produced a Biopic Mini Series about the group, The New Edition Story, that chronicles many of the above events.

In 2019, it was revealed all of NE's masters, both material from the group and all solo work, sans Johnny Gill's, were destroyed in a 2008 fire at Universal Studios, making any future remasters of their works impossible.

Notable songs

  • "Candy Girl", it topped the UK Singles Chart and was the first number one single to include rapping.
  • "Is This the End"
  • "Popcorn Love"
  • "Jealous Girl"
  • "Cool It Now"
  • "Mr. Telephone Man"
  • "Lost in Love"
  • "Kind of Girls We Like"
  • "My Secret (Didja Get It Yet?)"
  • "Count Me Out"
  • "A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)"
  • "With You All the Way"
  • "Earth Angel"
  • "Once in a Lifetime Groove"
  • "Tears on My Pillow" (featuring Little Anthony)
  • "Helplessly in Love"
  • "If It Isn't Love"
  • "You're Not My Kind of Girl"
  • "Can You Stand the Rain"
  • "Crucial"
  • "N.E. Heart Break"
  • "Word To The Mutha" (A Bell Biv DeVoe single that reunited the original five New Editon members, plus newcomer Johnny Gill)
  • "Hit Me Off"
  • "I'm Still in Love with You"
  • "You Don't Have to Worry"
  • "One More Day"
  • "Something About You"
  • "Hot 2Nite"


  • Candy Girl (1983)
  • New Edition (1984)
  • All for Love (1985)
  • Under the Blue Moon (1986)
  • Heart Break (1988)
  • Home Again (1996)
  • One Love (2004)


  • The Band Minus the Face: Played with. After the Heart Break tour, lead singers Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant began work on solo albums. The three remaining members then formed the hip-hop group Bell Biv DeVoe, which was distinct from New Edition’s R&B style. Gill, Tresvant, and Bobby Brown later toured under the group name, Heads of State. New Edition as a group, though, has always included the core four of Bell, Bivins, Devoe, and Tresvant.
  • Break-Up Song: “Is This the End” & "I'm Leaving You Again"
  • The Cameo: New Edition briefly appears in Krush Groove, a Roman à Clef about the founding of Def Jam Records.
  • Changed for the Video: "N.E. Heart Break" and "You're Not My Kind of Girl" were remixed for their respective music videos.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Despite having hit records and sell-out concerts, the members of New Edition lived in poverty on food stamps, while the record execs kept all the profits. This changed once they became adults.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: “Can You Stand the Rain” seeks to defy this trope.
    On a perfect day I know that I can count on you
    When that’s not possible tell me can you weather the storm?
    Cuz I need somebody who will stand by me
    Through the good times and times you always be
    Always be right there
  • Former Child Star: Most of the group avoided this, thanks to a successful transition to a more mature sound, but Bobby and Ricky ended up on the wrong end of the trope for a while because of drug problems. Both of them would eventually get clean, but Bobby (by his own admission) still struggles to stay sober, despite his best efforts.
  • Friend Versus Lover: “Cool It Now”
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: “If It Isn’t Love”
    I can’t describe this feeling
    That came when I saw her last night
    She got to me
    I’ll let you know the reason
    I saw her with another guy!
  • Intercourse with You: “Do Me!” and "Something In Your Eyes" by Bell Biv Devoe, "Rock Wit'cha" by Bobby Brown, "Rub You The Right Way" and "My, My, My" by Johnny Gill to name a few.
  • New Jack Swing: The entirety of Heart Break. This album marked their shift from bubblegum pop to a more mature R&B sound. After Heart Break ran its course, the group members would have varying degrees of success as solo artists during the new jack swing era.
  • New Sound Album: As mentioned above, Heart Break marked New Edition's transition from bubblegum singers to adult contemporary R&B
  • Nice Guy: Ralph boasts about being this in the songs, “Sensitivity” and “Stone Cold Gentleman.”
  • Oblivious to Hints: “Mr. Telephone Man”
    Mr. Telephone Man
    There’s something wrong with my line
    When I dial my baby’s number
    I get a click every time
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The dynamic between Ralph and Bobby
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Bobby Brown, to the point he performed on stage while high, was frequently caught messing around with groupies, and eventually got booted out of the group because of it. Ricky Bell had also gained a coke addiction in the nineties, but kept it hidden until he was forced to go to rehab after an overdose.
  • Silly Love Songs: “Candy Girl”
  • Small Name, Big Ego: As good as Bobby Brown was in and out of New Editon, his bandmates had a hard time putting up with his ego. Unsurprisingly, this was the main reason he got kicked out of the group in 1985. He was also responsible for the infamous Home Again brawl that caused the tour to be cancelled prematurely, though the general tensions in New Edition were already past the boiling point by that time.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many R&B and pop boy bands have modeled themselves after New Edition at one point or another, but Boyz II Men is considered their direct successor, even naming themselves after a New Edition song. It doesn't hurt that Mike Bivins helped groom them into superstars.
  • Suspicious Missed Messages: "Mr. Telephone Man" has the singer calling the operator because his girlfriend keeps hanging up on him, and he refuses to believe she would do such a thing.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: And how. Nobody in New Edition was on the same page post-Heart Break, mostly due to their egos from solo stardom getting in the way. The animosity in the group was just barely staying under the surface in this early 1990 Video Soul interview, and it fully boiled over by the time of the Home Again tour, culminating in Bobby and Ronnie starting a full-scale brawl on stage, someone nearly getting shot, and Mike and Bobby leaving the group again for another few years.
  • Telephone Song: In "Mr. Telephone Man", the singer calls the telephone repairman because he always hears a click when he dials his girlfriend's number (probably because she's found someone else).
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike.” The video for “Cool It Now” includes shots of each member during the roll call.
  • The Vamp: “Poison”
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Mike Bivins and Ronnie Devoe often perform this role for the group, most notably on “Cool It Now” and “Hit Me Off.”


Video Example(s):


Mr. Telephone Man

They tried to dial her number, but got a click every time. It's gotta be the phone co's fault, but she wouldn't do them like that. Right?

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TelephoneSong

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