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New Kids on the Block: Hangin' Tough
Scott - 2/19/01

When Matt first gave me the opportunity to write for this site, I knew that I would have to do something unique...something that hasn't been done on X-E before...something that made anyone reading this article think to themselves, "I can't believe this guy subjected himself to that shit." Matt has gone through hell for his readers quite a few times, chronicling his experiences with such atrocities as The Corey Haim Video Diary (Twice!) and The Worst Witch, so in some sick way I figured I had to go through a similar ordeal in order to endear myself to the X-E faithful. But I was also aware that I had to do something unique. After all, what's the point of me writing for the site if all I'm going to do is the same stuff Matt already does to perfection himself? Well, last night I was combing through our movie library here at home, and I came across one of my older sister's most cherished videotapes, New Kids on the Block: Hangin' Tough. Jackpot. Surely, watching this would be a fitting showcase of just how dedicated I am to this site and its readers.

Let me try to put things in perspective here. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and I have had the great misfortune of experiencing the boy band craze time and time again. My older sister was obsessed with New Kids on the Block, and my younger sister is currently obsessed with N'Sync, the Backstreet Boys and basically any other teeny-bopper crap you'll find on MTV or played on the radio. This constant bombardment of boyband paraphernalia has no doubt taken its toll on me over the years. Despite all my efforts to block stuff like this out, I can probably name off the individual members of every modern boyband without even a hitch and probably give you their likes/dislikes and even life histories too. Trust me, it's not something I'm proud of.

Before I get started on the video itself, I feel it's necessary for me to give everyone a quick recap of those five delectable hunks who gave the New Kids on the Block their distinct look and sound.

Jon Knight: From what I remember of the group's heyday, not too many NKOTB fans had Jon as their favorite. As brother to the ever-popular Jordan, it just didn't seemed like Jon would ever be playing anything other than second fiddle to his more talented and quite frankly much sexier brother. Apparently, Jon didn't like playing the role of "the other brother", and it must've festered inside him too. Here's a little NKOTB Trivia Tidbit: MTV wanted to have a New Kids on the Block reunion at their last Video Music Awards, but apparently Jon would have none of it. All four of the other members wanted to do it, but apparently Jon's unwillingness to participate brought the whole idea down.

Jordan Knight: Back in their heyday, Jordan was my sister's favorite, and after talking to her about this recently, the main reason she became a NKOTB fanatic. I'll bet a lot of other fans felt the same way, but even she couldn't answer my question about Jordan's strange obsession with Batman (which isn't unlike Joey's Fatone's strange obsession with Superman). A few years ago, Jordan launched a solo career, had a moderate hit with "Give It To You", and has virtually disappeared since then. I have a feeling he'll be back with a vengeance soon enough.

Joey McIntyre: When I popped this video into my VCR, the first thing I realized was that Joey hadn't even started puberty yet, which when compared to today's boy bands, seems to be a rather frightening thought. Joey was the most popular New Kid too. Remember now, I'm just going by what I haven't yet been able to block out of my memory and by what my sister tells me, so I could be wrong. Any astute NKOTB fan who wants to prove me otherwise, please feel free to do so in the forums. I'll bet it was a harsh life for little Joey. You're one of the world's most coveted male stars, and you're barely old enough to get an erection. Joey, like Jordan, also recently relaunched his singing career as a solo artist, but nowadays you can find him in Las Vegas hosting MTV's Say What Karaoke. His CD must not have done as well as expected, but at least he has enough facial hair now to justify shaving.

Donnie Wahlberg: Donnie was the "Home Boy" of the group, mostly because he just happened to like leather jackets a little more than the rest of the guys and managed to incorporate the word "Yo" at least twice into each spoken sentence. After the New Kids were over and done with, Donnie followed in the footsteps of his brother, Marky Mark, and tried his luck in acting. And he's a pretty damn good one too. In case you didn't know, Donnie played the guy who goes crazy and shoots Bruce Willis at the beginning of The Sixth Sense. If anyone is curious about some of his other film work, I recommend checking out Southie, another pretty good movie featuring the former New Kid.

Danny Wood: I hate to belittle the mullet-sporting tank top-wearing member of the group, but the New Kids on the Block might as well have been a four person group. There were a LOT of New Kids on the Block fans, and I'm sure they all had their favorites. But I really don't think any of them were fainting in the audience because Danny Wood was on stage. Even JON was more popular, and Jon got into the group cause Jordan was his brother. So how the hell did Danny end up there in the first place? And where is Danny now? As far as I know, he just disappeared off the face of the earth, which, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing since a comeback as a solo artist would probably be about as successful as one of Skeletor's nefarious schemes to enslave He-Man and his friends.

As for the video itself, I'm dividing it into four different parts, corresponding with the four different performances/music videos included throughout the tape's thirty minutes. First, we have the group's breakout smash hit "Please Don't Go Girl", which is followed by part two and the very danceable "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)". Part three consists of another famous NKOTB ballad, "I'll Be Loving You Forever" and a look at how the guys keep themselves entertained on those long bus trips while on tour. Last but certainly not least, "Hangin' Tough" is the group's final performance on the tape, and needless to say, they go out with a bang. Though whether that bang is a smashing performance of their hit song "Hangin' Tough" or is actually the sound of me trying to put myself out of my misery remains to be seen.

SEGMENT ONE:

The first part of the video starts out with a montage of scenery (some subways, train tracks, streets, and a fence - production values must've been high) which of course shows that the New Kids are definitely "Hangin' Tough". Now I'm not too sure why this is, but whenever all five of the New Kids are together, whether it be strolling through the park, raiding junkyards for letters of the alphabet (I'll get to that one later), or changing in the dressing room, they constantly high-five each other for no apparent reason. I could see this happening maybe once or twice throughout the course of the video, but this was just ridiculous. Maybe Joey was congratulating Donnie on his new haircut or a new top hat or something of that nature. Because the video has music playing most of the time, we hardly get to hear what the guys are actually saying to each other, but I imagine it's something like this:

Donnie: "Yo Joey! Whatsup, yo?" [High Five]
Joey: "Heya Donnie! New haircut?"[High Five]
Donnie: "You betcha! Yo, I'm trying to outdo the pure white trashness of Danny's mullet. I think I finally beat him too, yo!" [High Five]
Joey: "It sure looks like it! I got my first pubic hair this morning!"[High Five]
Donnie: "Yo, Gnarly dude! How about a high five, yo?" [High Five]

Next we are treated to an intimate anecdote from little Joey Mac about life on tour, and we quickly realize that these five superstars are far more than just good looks, ripped jeans, and flashy footwear and dance moves. They are also philosophers, searching for the answers to the questions we all ask. Danny remarks later on in the video, "I believe it was destiny that we were to come together.", a bold statement indeed, but one that, if ever proven true, would shatter my faith in any sort of higher power that isn't pure evil.

After this, the video and performance of "Please Don't Go Girl" begins, and I quickly fetch myself a bottle of vodka and a shot glass to begin numbing my senses. I get to watch the New Kids jump on and off park benches, and then they head over to the local carnival. They meet up with some girls, go on some carnival rides with them, and then leave, forgetting about them entirely. I never knew these guys were such Playaz, but from this video it's clearly obvious they've got some game. Oh how they must've broken those girls' hearts...

SEGMENT TWO:

Segment two has the New Kids filming themselves in a Las Vegas junkyard, where they eventually gather enough letters to spell out the band's name. I have no idea what this has to do with anything, but we do get to see Joey do Frank Sinatra impressions and Donnie speak horrible street jive, which basically consists of him beginning and ending every sentence with the word "Yo". We are then magically transported to a building where the boys perform "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" and show us some of their impeccable choreography and footwork.

Quite frankly, this portion of the video goes off the deep end in terms of making any fucking sense at all. At first, it looks as if the guys are playing the game 'Ass', or some lame form of dodge ball, but upon further viewing it looks more like they're playing basketball, only without a basket to shoot at. Despite the fact that none of them can ever score a point, they seem to be having way too much fun for their own good.

Although I have no idea what the appeal of watching the New Kids play basketball without a hoop is, I certainly wasn't in as much pain watching this as I had previously thought I would be. However, after a quick glance at my watch, I came to the harsh realization that I was only about a quarter of the way through the video so far, meaning there was still much more NKOTB hi jinks for me to experience before this ordeal would end.

Also, I'd like to take a moment to compliment the guys on their ability to make me feel a hell of a lot better about what I wear when I go out in public. Next time I have to return a movie to Blockbuster at 11:59 in some old sweat pants and a wifebeater, I can just be thankful that my clothes still don't look nearly as bad as any of the guys' in this video. Hell, these guys wore this stuff when they were being filmed for a video that was to be marketed and sold all over the world. Wearing something like that to sleep in is one thing, but wearing it on camera is an entirely different matter altogether. It's too difficult to see in such a small image, but in that first picture of Joey and Jordan in the junkyard, Joey is sporting a bad ass Warrant t-shirt.

SEGMENT THREE:

I don't know who the hell this guy is in the first picture, but he's in the video and he sure looks like he's not having too much fun...however, his appearance early in the video reinforces the tape's theme that the New Kids are no doubt "Hangin' Tough" while out on tour. For some odd reason, black guys pop up at many different points in the video. While I have no idea why those two guys made cameos, the NKOTB bodyguard at least seemed like he belonged on the bus.

Speaking of that bodyguard...

Besides being the last line of defense from rabid thirteen year old girls, the group's bodyguard also reminds me of WWF Superstar Rikishi and even doubles as Donnie's reluctant dance partner in one of the video's more inciteful segments. As you can see, Donnie and the boys love to have impromptu jam sessions on the tour bus and apparently, Rikishi here wasn't fast enough to get to the front of the bus before this particular session got into full swing. While Jordan and Joey jam on the keyboard, Donnie takes him by the hands and performs a pseudo lap dance for the guy, and everyone laughs and has a gay old time. However, one thing leads to another and...

A FULL SCALE ROYAL RUMBLE CALIBER WRESTLING MATCH ENSUES!

Probably the favorite segment of most female New Kids fans, we are allowed to accompany the group backstage and have a candid look at everything that goes on when they're preparing for a performance, including the New Kids changing their clothes. We get to watch them choose their wardrobes, eat dinner, and we even get to watch them shave. And damn was I surprised when I saw Joey shaving with the rest of the guys too. Even Donnie ripped on little Joey, bluntly stating that he only has "one hair to shave". Joey took the remark in stride knowing that he was far more popular than Donnie and also knowing that Donnie would probably beat his ass if he said anything back. Meanwhile, Jordan's sporting his third different Batman shirt, easily solidifying himself as the most fashionable of the New Kids, and Danny and Jon are drinking forties while having hot, wild sex with groupies in their dressing room showers. Ok, maybe I stretched it a bit in that last part. They were actually having sex with each other.

Donnie and Danny give us some nutritional tips at dinner, and Donnie engages in an absolutely riveting conversation with one of the lady caterers. Donnie seems to think that the food he's putting on his plate is eggs when the lady repeatedly tells him it is in fact fish. After all, she helped prepare it, but he seems convinced that this food is actually eggs. He just keeps telling her, "But they look like eggs...", and the lady is obviously not very happy with the fact that she has to put up with this kind of attitude. Eventually she just starts ignoring him, and Donnie finally leaves and sits down to eat. We then get to watch some guy shine Danny's shoes before the start of the concert. If this isn't entertainment, I don't know what is.

Besides the fact that Joey shaves in this video for no apparent reason, the second discovery I made while watching this was that Jordan seemed to have a rather robust collection of Batman t-shirts. Even if you scroll back up to the pictures of the guys rummaging through the junkyard, you can see Jordan proudly sporting yet another classy Batman t-shirt design. I'm as big a fan of Batman as the next guy, but I try to stick to more classy attire, such as my treasured Hulk Hogan/NWO Black shirts purchased at past WCW Monday Nitro's. At this point in the video, the amount of respect I have for Jordan is so low that I have a hard time telling if the shirts make him cooler or if they in fact make him even more lame.

SEGMENT FOUR:

Although the third segment was the heart of the video, you know there's no way these kids are heading out with a whimper. Before the concert begins, some guy interviews them, and each member of the group gets all philosophical again. They tell all the kiddies to not do drugs, and they each give their own definitions of what they think "Hangin' Tough" means. They don't want kids to give in to peer pressure, and they want their fans to know they're just a group of normal teenage guys who got lucky and made it big. As it turns out, this whole video was a damn D.A.R.E. course condensed into a mere thirty minutes of bad music, horrible dancing, and some of the most unfashionable clothes I've seen since DJ Tanner in early episodes of Full House.

So what have we finally learned today? Personally, I haven't the slightest idea, but I think I have a better grasp on why the New Kids crashed and burned in the end instead of having the longevity of other bands. Looking back on a lot of stuff, it's often fairly easy to see why a lot of things are no longer popular or in such high demand. For example, the quality of the Transformers cartoon series in its later seasons was far inferior to that of its first few seasons, and I can attribute that as being a major factor in the show's eventual demise. But the New Kids on the Block were shitty from the beginning, so I really have no explanation as to how or why they became popular in the first place. However, the one thing I do plan on taking from watching this video is that N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys are no where near as bad as these guys were.

I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it! There's nothing more theraputic than being able to bash a video that nearly pained you to the point of seizure. Questions and comments are always welcome.

- Scott
dupayosh@flashmail.com

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