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Music / New Kids on the Block

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Then and Now.

You got the right stuff, baby,
Love the way you turn me on.
You got the right stuff, baby,
You're the reason why I sing this song.
— "You Got It (The Right Stuff)"

New Kids on the Block, or NKOTB, are a Bostonian Boy Band. For whatever reason, their manager Maurice Starr named the group Nynuk when it first formed (to this day, nobody is quite sure what he was thinking). Thank Donnie Wahlberg and Columbia Records for the group's current moniker; Donnie wrote the song "New Kids on the Block" for the first album, and Columbia said they'd give the group a record contract provided they changed their name. The rest is history.

Originally conceived as a white version of New Edition (seriously), they were hugely successful in the late 80's and early 90's, but declining sales, internal strife, accusations of lip-syncing and other issues, and sheer burnout led to the group disbanding in 1994. Most of the members went on to solo musical careers, and Donnie Wahlberg became a successful actor. They got back together in 2008, released a new album, and held a very successful reunion tour and a tour in 2011 co-headlining with the Backstreet Boys. A new album was released on April 2, 2013, along with a joint tour with Ninety Eight Degrees and Boyz II Men. They toured in 2015 with Nelly and TLC, in 2017 with Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul, and in 2019 with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Salt-N-Pepa, and Naughty By Nature. A 2022 tour featuring Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, and Rick Astley was announced in October 2021.

They also had a short-lived animated series in the early 90s.

NKOTB is one of the Trope Codifiers, if not Trope Makers, for subsequent Boy Bands.


  • Donnie Wahlberg (older brother to Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg, who was also one of the founding members)
  • Danny Wood
  • Joey McIntyre
  • Jordan Knight
  • Jonathan Knight (Jordan's older brother)


  • 1986 - New Kids On The Block
  • 1988 - Hangin' Tough
  • 1989 - Merry, Merry Christmas
  • 1990 - Step By Step
  • 1991 - No More Games - The Remix Album
  • 1994 - Face The Music
  • 2008 - The Block
  • 2011 - NKOTBSB (combined NKOTB and Backstreet Boys hits album along with three new songs with everyone singing together)
  • 2013 - 10
  • 2017 - Thankful (5-song EP)
  • 2019 - Hangin' Tough (30th Anniversary)

NKOTB provides examples of the following tropes:

  • '80s Hair: As their original run went on, this became more and more prevalent, with Jordan, Jon, and to a lesser extent Joey sporting some massive slicked-up pompadours. They're not part of the trope page's pic for nothing.
  • Badass Boast:
    • In "Games" as a Take That! to their haters.
      No sell out
      So get the hell out
      We do it our way
      Who gives a damn about what critics say
      Said we wouldn't last
      Said our time will pass
      In just a flash
      But we're still kicking ass!
    • In "The Way", how they sing about the girl they love deserves better and that they would be the better lover:
      He don't know you the way I do
      He don't touch you the way I would
      He don't f*** you the way I could
      He don't love you the way you should be loved,
      My love
      The way you should be loved
  • Broken Aesop: "Remix (I Like The)" is meant to be about being wowed by a formerly unremarkable woman who transforms herself and becomes empowered and self-confident, but it's not at all a stretch to interpret it as "we only like you now that you're pretty."
  • Celebrity Endorsement:
    • During their original run, the band endorsed name-brand products during their most popular years, most notably Coca-Cola. This peaked with a contest run by the soda company that tied into their Magic Summer tour. Sadly, the "Magic Cans" caused a lot more grief than expected, as the gimmick of the Golden Ticket popping up through the opening of the can didn't work so well in practice.
    • Since his mother's death from breast cancer, Danny has become an outspoken supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, with proceeds from some of NKOTB's merchandise during the reunion tour and all of the profits from his solo album Stronger: Remember Betty going to the Foundation.
    • Jordan did promotions for Old Navy's summer wardrobe in 2012, including riding in on a bicycle cart and a fake "album" about their catalog.
  • Christmas Songs: Merry, Merry Christmas, combining Christmas standards with original songs that were of...questionable quality.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Original run: The closest they ever came was a "No way/Bullshit!" loop in Face the Music's opening track, and even that was somewhat censored.
    • At the end of the reunion tour, Donnie and Jordan sang a duet about how far up shit creek they'd be if it wasn't for the backing musicians.
    • Solo material: Joey's live album One Too Many, where the language flows freely between songs...and frequently interrupts them. For example:
      Joey: *singing* Up here we're one big happy family
      Riding - aw, they're gonna sue me and shit! "Joe, you did great but you broke the fuckin' piano! Come back anytime!"
  • Cover Version: Jordan covered Prince's "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" on his debut solo album, and did several covers on Love Songs, including "Drive" and "Careless Whisper".
  • Charity Motivation Song: "This One's For The Children", a single from their 1989 holiday album. The proceeds were donated to United Cerebral Palsy.
  • Fanservice: We could spend a whole paragraph on this. It's probably enough just to note that there was a lot of it. Now that they're back together, it's even more prevalent. The 2015 tour with Nelly and TLC ramped this up even more by featuring a "Change Cam" in one of the changing rooms under the stage, which has carried over in some fashion to all their subsequent tours.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In spades since the reunion. The Block is very racy, and now that all five are approaching middle age and most have kids, none are shy about showing off for the ladiesnote .
  • Intercourse with You:
    • Mostly averted in their original run and on 10.
    • The Block plays this very straight, depending on the song.
    • In their solo material, Jordan uses this a lot, with "Give It to You" being one of the best examples. Joey and Donnie also use it fairly regularly. Danny used it a lot more in his earlier Hip-Hop/electronic material than his pop rock albums.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Since the reunion, a favorite tactic of interviewers is to bring up group photos of themselves exemplifying 80s and 90s fashion and causing groans of embarrassment (especially in regards to their hair). They're even more embarrassed about the Cosby-sweaters they wore for their first album cover.
  • Jenny's Number: "80s Baby" starts with an answering machine referencing this number.
  • Mood Dissonance: Jordan's solo song "Give It to You" is very steamy; the video has him dancing in an amusement park.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A remarkable (and presumably unintentional) put-down to their young female fanbase in "Tonight".
    Remember when we travelled 'round the world?
    We met a lot of people and girls
  • Old Shame: invoked The cover of their Christmas album is not looked on fondly.
    Donnie: That is the worst album cover in the history of music.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Subverted with "Grown Man"; the two places where profanities would fit were replaced with effects or wordplay.
    • These show up in banter and lyrics when they're performing live, especially from Donnie and Joey.
  • The Quiet One: Jon. Lampshaded frequently by the rest of the group, and sometimes by Jon himself when he does talk. He's much more vocal and active on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Self-Titled Album: The group's debut album, and Jordan's first solo album.
  • Serious Business: Still after all these years. We need a sociologist to get to the bottom of the dedication of Boston-based fandoms. They're like the Red Sox of music...
  • Shrinking Violet: In "The Remix (I Like)", the music video tells the story of "lonely and awkward wallflower" Sunny D (played by Artemis Pebdani), who blossoms after hearing new music by house band NKOTB at a dance party.
  • She Is All Grown Up: "Big Girl Now" revolves around this, is invoked in both the guys’ and Lady Gaga’s vocal parts, and is mentioned almost word-for-word in the chorus.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • At least one photo from most of Danny's solo albums, if not all the art.
    • The live video of "Baby I Believe In You" has Jordan wearing an open white shirt that totally showed off his chest and abs; he recycled this for his solo routine during the first part of the reunion tour.
    • Starting with the NKOTBSB tour, this is pretty much expected from everyone except Jon at least once per show.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "The Boys in the Band" references numerous famous boy bands throughout the years, including New Edition, Boyz II Men, Bell Biv Devoe (who appear in the music video), Backstreet Boys, N Sync, and The Jackson 5.
    • "Games" includes shoutouts to Donnie's brother Mark Wahlberg and Mark's band The Funky Bunch, and features a chorus section taken from The Wizard of Oz, namely the West Witch's soldiers' chant: oh ee oh, oh oh.
  • Silly Love Songs: Take a shot every time they say "girl". By the Hangin' Tough album, snarky critics started wondering if they were actually singing to a woman named Girl.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Joey has a few solo songs that prominently feature this:
    • "California" has a number of small spoken parts scattered throughout, especially in the latter half of the song, most of which are either statistics or snarky comments.
    • "NYC Girls" has an almost-rapped verse which is basically him asking for directions on which subway route to take to meet his girl.
    • "If I Run Into You" has a couple of spoken bits before the verse transitions as awkward off-the-cuff chitchat with his ex.
  • Straight Gay: Jon. Lampshaded during the 2017 show in Nashville when, after being joined on stage by Carrie Underwood to sing "Happy Birthday" to Joey and Danny and accompany Jon in singing NKOTB's "Happy Birthday", Donnie quipped "That's the first time he's sung to a girl in 30 years and meant it!"
  • Take That!:
    • Face the Music's first track was a jab at the lip-syncing accusations and other criticisms the group had been facing during that time.
    • Some of Joey's songs have taken playful jabs at the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Jordan, who takes full advantage of it for Fanservice.
  • Vocal Evolution: The entire group experienced this as they went through puberty on stage. This is particularly noticeable with Joey, who started out before his voice broke.
  • Wallpaper Camouflage: In "Remix (I Like The)", two popular girls are shown at the house party wearing matching dresses that match the exact wallpaper behind them.
    Went from wallpaper to heartbreaker
    You should've seen her
  • Who's Laughing Now?: In "Remix (I Like The)" when the bullied wallflower grows up:
    She was that girl in the corner
    Thick-rimmed glasses
    Everybody laughed
    Every time she passed us, ever the outcast
    Had no flava, but who got the last laugh?