Hangin' Tough

New Kids on the Block

Columbia Records, 1988


REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


While serving time (by just being a teenager), I witnessed the New Kids On The Block surfacing as the marquee bubblegum enterprise. The scene was hysterical. My junior high school was spackled with pink and neon with the faces of Donnie, Jordan, Jonathan, Joey and even the monkey-semblanced Danny littered on an unbelievable assortment of objects. Since they were an overtly commercial group, I would not be caught dead (or alive) finding aural pleasure from any of their numbers. However, the media and presence was undeniable and I caved in.

Hidden under my mattress was a cassette tape -- Hangin' Tough. Precious moments were had when I could come home from school and sneak a listen of the album. It was difficult because I had to avoid the fact that my little sister was always seeking any 'cross to bear' that could be broadcast to any and all of my friends. Fortunately, after a few months my condition improved and I was able to secretly dispose of the recording.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

*Fast forward 15 years later*

At a used CD store, I found a dust-covered Hangin' Tough placed on the $0.99 rack. After removing the surface dust that had settled on the disc case, years of separation were instantaneously erased from my memory and their images were queerly peering at me (along with the counter person).

As I reviewed the tracks and scanned the haunting images from years past, it was obvious that the moment arrived. Ten super-saccharine songs streamed in succession. No wonder parents loved them; nothing on the album was anything more than a feigned, diabolical pose. "Hangin' Tough," "(You Got It) The Right Stuff" and "What'cha Gonna Do About It?" used plastic r&b to conform to the 'bad boy' item on Maurice Starr's (their producer) recipe for creating a huge mainstream teen group that could be exploited. Other ingredients were establishing a faux streetwise image, focusing on songs that relate young 'puppy' lust and precise sequencing, so that 50%+ ballads could be rendered.

The General's (Starr's moniker) packaging, song selection and sage market survey of the pop-buying demographic beamed much greater than the talent displayed by the New Kids on the Block. No member had any notable gifts; Jordan simply was average, Joey's voice frequently cracked ("Please Don't Go Girl" and "I Remember When"), Donnie could not rap or sing (he must have been used for his mullet), and neither Jonathan or Danny's contributions were heard.

Ten minutes ago, I scrapped this disc again. Personally, my ears and mind can no longer handle obvious pop music from a mediocre group that offers no wink of sarcasm or wit. However, if you are currently a teen, masochistic, and/or wonder what an 'N Sync album would have sounded like 15 years ago, then a copy of Hangin' Tough is still likely nested in a bargain bin near you.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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