(sorry, embedding’s disabled for the actual video – see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbXh3SfPUKM)
Sing This All Together (See What Happens)
Armed only with backward baseball caps and a tendency to break into medical order-defying ‘frenzied dance routines’, Jordan, Joey, Jon, Donnie and ‘Dave’ were a chart phenomenon like few before or since, going from being nowhere to utterly unavoidable within the space of literally a couple of weeks. This they achieved with a shrewd mixture of pop-rap r’n'b posturing and seventies-style soul ballads, and by releasing about eight million singles before 1989 was even out. And then came, to the bemusement of all concerned, the Beatles pastiche. The least predictable one on this list by some considerable distance. TWO POINTS.
Brought His Mellotrode And Freaked ‘Em All Out
You’d expect – and, let’s be honest, want – this one to be nothing more than a nauseatingly insincere eighties A&R man’s idea of ‘those psychedelic sixties’ decked out in the aural equivalent of rainbow colours and doves holding CND signs. But, amazingly, it’s actually very well done – abrupt changes in tempo, harpsichord, heavy reverb, sitars, Penny Lane trumpet, badly-recorded audience sounds, and even a slight tinge of raga-inflection to the chorus melody. If we have to have inauthentic psych, then it should at least sound this good. Nice one, Mr Umberto Carr! EIGHT POINTS.
On The Bus Or Off The Bus?
It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that there’s a distinct lack of political posturing in the lyrics, which seem to be more concerned with reiterating just how famous New Kids On The Block are and how many people come to see their live shows. Though as if to make up for it there’s a nicely clumsily-done block of back-references to the titles of their past hits, not to mention a near-legendary distinction between “a lot of people” and “girls”. Plus a bit where it seems to threaten to turn into the theme from Jim’ll Fix It. SIX POINTS.
The Green And Purple Lights Affect Your Sight
Starts very promisingly, with a spoken word bit featuring the assembled New Kids following mysterious directions and apparently arriving at the Manson House, but it soon degenerates into a pretty unexciting run-through of the song on a small wooden stage, in which the closest thing to a far-out crazy visual is the pixelisation of an Adidas logo on Donnie’s t-shirt to ensure maximum television exposure. Not even a smattering of colour-refractive glitter whirling around their heads can cut the appropriate amount of mustard. FOUR POINTS.
I’m Picking Up Bad Vibrations
Although Tonight got to number three and was seemingly inescapable on both TV and radio for a good few months, it was really here that everything started to very very slowly go wrong for NKOTB, with successive singles dipping ever lower in the top forty and by the end of 1991 it was all over bar the shouting. Which they did tend to do a lot of. On top of that, it was reviewed in Smash Hits by an audibly bewildered Phil Collins, who likened it to “one of those bands like Pilot” and declared himself unconvinced. SEVEN POINTS.
Ha Ha Ha… We Blew Your Mind!
This really was a fish out of water in the New Kids canon, and nothing else they did, aside from a misguided attempt at Spectorisms on their Christmas album, even came anywhere near it, either in sound or lack of annoying-ness. NO POINTS, as they head towards that one where Donnie did the rap about bad reviews with a grand total of TWENTY SEVEN POINTS.
Next Time – the ex-Mrs Sean Penn momentarily trades her pointy basque thing for a pair of Minnie Mouse ears…