- Open Road
By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published April 2, 2013
New Kids on the Block’s sixth studio album doesn’t disappoint — assuming that disappointment implies some sort of initial expectation. The group fell hard, and not even in reference to its peak in 1989. Since its fifth studio album release, Interscope and NKOTB parted ways, leaving the boy band relatively hopeless for acquiring reputable writers and producers (hence making themselves the executive producers of the album).
New Kids on the Block
Its 2008 comeback, The Block, boasted many noteworthy producers, including RedOne, Polow da Don, Timbaland, T-Pain, Akon and Ne-Yo, while 10’s most notable credit is Deekay, who is far from a celebrated producer. The record was only moderately successful — unsurprising, given the 14-year hiatus between studio albums — but created a smooth, suave sound that attracted a great deal of attention, given the big names that the album presented.
Equally depressing is 10’s lack of collaborations, once again, in contrast to its previous studio album. The Block pulled together top-notch contemporary artists like Lady Gaga, Ne-Yo, Akon, The Pussycat Dolls, Timbaland and New Edition. 10 barely managed to pull together the boy band itself.
Melody, production and lyrics are as basic as can be. Each track is a hollow-shell version of the typical boy band music of the early 1990s — as if each track is a cheap variation on “Don’t Want You Back” and “It’s Gotta Be You” by the Backstreet Boys. We get it. She’s either bad for you, or you just can’t live without her.
The track titles are as uninteresting as the corresponding lyrics (bonus points for coherency, at least). Nearly every track is based from some common song phrase (e.g. “Take My Breath Away,” “We Own Tonight,” “Now or Never”) and, once again, hosts generic phrases. “I wouldn’t have nothing without you / girl you are my world / cause baby you know I love you.” Not exactly breathtaking lyrics from “Take My Breath Away.” Maybe you just had to be there.
Even the title is low-effort. Naming an album after the number of albums an artist has released is overdone and tacky, not to mention that in this case, it’s not entirely truthful. NKOTB has released six studio albums, so this “10” comes from including the release of Christmas albums, compilation albums and albums released with the Backstreet Boys. Evidently it wanted to sport a number worthy of almost 30 years in the industry.
Frankly, NKOTB is not a group that’s meant to persevere in the music industry. An assemblage of 40-year-olds hardly constitutes a “boy” band, let alone the New “Kids” on the Block. Same goes for you, Backstreet “Boys.” It’s a wonder that this album even exists, given the minimal effort thrown into it. Donnie Wahlberg could learn quite a bit from his brother, Mark, about moving on from a juvenile music career.
This album will appear on the setlist of the just-announced “Package Tour,” featuring Boys II Men and 98 Degrees. It’s the complete “package” of boy band has-beens.