Captivity under the NKOTB

Quin Nelson

I was given the assignment to review the New Kids on the Block’s new album, 10, released April 2 (yes, this year). Seeing as I have no prior experience listening to their music or any interest in gaining said experience, I needed to set up something other than a conventional review. I decided to listen to 10 for three consecutive hours, and document my captivity under the NKOTB regime. These are my notes:

0:00:30 The first song, “We Own Tonight,” is all right. It seems like average adult pop-rock that will not distract me from my homework. I guess I was expecting a more abrasive sound, so this is tolerable.

0:05:00 The second song is bad. The chorus is just the line “I like the remix, baby” repeated several times, and sometimes a guy will jump in and yell things like, “Guitar!” and “Break it down!”

0:09:15 “Take My Breath Away” is also bad, and it is easy to see why. It is sort of in the electro-pop-R&B style of many pop songs today, but it is clearly made by a group of middle-aged men.

0:17:00 This Spotify ad brings welcome respite.

0:20:50 “Miss You More” is a decent song until one of the New Kids (is that what they call each other?) provides one of the worst whisper raps ever recorded. He starts with “I hate the way I miss you / I just wanna kiss you,” and it doesn’t get better after that.

0:01:00 I have completed slightly over one listen of the album, and 10 is tolerable background music. The only trouble that arises is when NKOTB veers out of the adult pop-rock lane and tries to sound like a modern pop group. Especially the whisper rapping; that was the worst.

1:14:27 In “Whisper,” love is compared to a whisper and a symphony, among other things. These guys have probably recycled these same clichés for the last 30 years.

1:18:28 “Jealous (Blues)” is probably my favorite song on the album. The lyrics are not any better than on the other songs, but it has a quicker tempo than most and some nice bluesy background singing from a woman not credited on the song (mystery New Kid?).

1:55:00 I talked to my sister on the phone and told her what I was doing. Her response: “Oh. That sucks.”

2:00:00 On the subject of boy bands, my sister said, “When I hear those types of songs, I always think, ‘Haven’t they made that before?'” This pretty much sums up how I feel at this point. All of these songs sound like watered-down mixtures of pop songs that have been made for many years by many artists.

2:00:01-2:30:00 I spaced out. Fatigue setting in.

2:44:40 I now realize I should have kept a tally of the clichés and corny similes in this album. NKOTB just delivered the gem, “You’re the oxygen I breathe.”

2:49:00 They just compared lovers to planets and stars, and love to fighting gravity. This lyricism is what’s getting me to the finish line.

3:00:00 Overall, 10 is not a good album, but it’s not impossible to listen to. And the music quality isn’t really the point, anyway; people will buy this out of nostalgia and nothing more. “Nothing more” is exactly what 10 provides.