On Friday at Staples Center, everybody's favorite boy band template New Kids on the Block perform with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.
Sure they were cute and shit, but folks seldom talk about how the New Kids changed the way pop fandom was brought to the masses. Before the internet and social networking let us know what our favorite artists were doing at every hour of the day, NKOTB flooded the market with VHS tapes, pay-per-views, cartoons and hotlines that allowed fans to hear something new about the boys at (nearly) every waking moment. Let's take a look back at how the New Kids changed the game!
Their 900 Number
Brought to you by Info-tainment Inc., the New Kids on the Block first tapped into their market of obsessive fans by offering a 900 number that promised to share both their day-to-day goings on AND their biggest secrets. This was highly classified information, so naturally it would cost a hefty $2.00 for the first minute and 45 cents each additional minute. Thanks to technology, you can now get just about the same information from Jordan Knight's Twitter absolutely free. The Kids had their hotline for quite a while, with later commercials promising to love callers forever. Let's not forget, though, to give the New Kids do get props for giving a portion of their proceeds to United Cerebral Palsy.
Step By Step Album Promo Clip
Plenty of artists have had promo clips or electronic press kits made to promote their upcoming albums, but for New Kids' Step By Step, the boys were left to narrate and explain their latest pieces all by themselves. Listen in as Donnie describes the album's title as “a name that makes sense” and “sort of an accurate name” and Joey pontificates on the addition of “classical classic music like violins” to the group's repertoire.
By 1990 there was no shortage of ways to give the New Kids money; in fact, they were popular enough to have their own pay-per-view special. Above is the entire No More Game pay-per-view special, including the 30 minute pre-show segment where Donnie Wahlberg works to convince those of us on the fence to order the concert. Thousands of pre-teen girls (and apparently two boys) can't be wrong!
How did you really prove you were the #1 New Kids on the Block fan? Well, it was going to cost you. Not only were there a series of New Kids on the Block
action figures dolls to buy, but an official phone you'll need to acquire. One cool feature of the dolls is the inclusion of an “interview cassette” where you can get some personal insight into each New Kid without having to shill out a week's pay calling their hotline.
New Kids on the Block: The Animated Series
Of course, it wouldn't be a mega-successful multi-national franchise without an accompanying cartoon. Not to be outdone by MC Hammer's magical talking shoes, the New Kids were given an animated series that featured such hijinks as going to school and camping.
While the kids didn't voice their animated counterparts, they did appear in the show's live-action clips, including a prime time Christmas special. Speaking of which, it's worth noting how active the boys were during the holiday, most memorably hosting the Christmas edition of NBC's “Friday Night Videos” in 1989 that also featured David Letterman's sidekick Larry “Bud” Melman as Santa Claus.