On the set of NBC's "Today" show, fans screeched the names of their favorites: "Joey!" "Jordan!" "Donnie!" The New Kids on the Block are trying their hand at a comeback. So far, all signs say go.
On the set of NBC's "Today" show, fans screeched the names of their favorites: "Joey!" "Jordan!" "Donnie!" The New Kids on the Block are trying their hand at a comeback. So far, all signs say go. Sixty hours before the "Today" show concert even started, and despite the rain, fans started lining up outside the studios at Rockefeller Plaza, hoping to catch a glimpse of the former teen idols.
By the time the boy-band-turned-man-band took to a wet and slippery stage, the crowd had swelled to several thousand; mostly casually dressed women in their 20s and 30s who wept, sang along lustily and held doll-size versions of the band members aloft.
"The 'Today' show turned out to be a 90-minute infomercial for the band," says Jared Paul of AGP, the New Kids' manager. In the wake of the taping, sales of the first single from the band's upcoming album, "Summertime," debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold 63,000 downloads in two weeks; New Kids' digital and physical catalog sales also increased by 391%, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Results like this are not unheard of for the venerable morning show, which boasts a 22% average increase in sales for acts that appear as part of the summer concert series.
The fan anticipation for the reunion has been off the chart. According to BuzzMetrics, a Nielsen Online data source that measures buzz in social media across more than 78 million blogs and message boards, of 103 million-plus messages posted on the Internet between Jan. 1 and May 16 (the day the New Kids' segment aired on the morning show), buzz was highest after the "Today" show performance, with more than 1.3 million messages posted. In fact, "Today" had a greater buzz factor than when word first broke of a reunion Jan. 27 and when CNN's April 3 newscast revealed that all five original members would reunite.
Obviously, a connection is still being made with fans of group—five Boston boys who exploded in the late '80s and ruled the charts into the early '90s. "Hangin' Tough" was certified platinum eight times over, and "Step by Step" went triple platinum. The band also had three No. 1 singles, and its members' faces were slapped on everything from lunchboxes to sleeping bags. By 1994, however, the New Kids' star had waned, and after their "Face the Music" album sold poorly, shifting only 138,000 copies, the boys called it quits.
In the intervening 14 years, the five members dabbled in solo albums, acting and real estate, and kept in touch as friends.
The decision to make 2008 their comeback year was based mostly on timing, according to Jordan Knight. "We were finally in a place where we could create the space in our lives to make music and go back on the road," he says.
According to Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg was the driving force behind the initial reunion plans. "Donnie got us all together to work on a song called 'Click Click Click,' and something, well, clicked," he says. "We all started to get really excited."
The New Kids' currently untitled album will street Sept. 8. To build up to the release, the group is planning on trying to reach the widest audience possible, including teen girls who were mere infants when the band was first breaking.
The has clearly been a demand for tickets for the band's initial tour dates, all of which are completely sold out, according to Live Nation senior VP of touring Brad Wavra. Wavra notes that the demographic for this tour encompasses more people than original New Kids fans. "What I think you have are people who were New Kids fans back in the day, and for many of them this was the first concert they ever went to," he says. "Then you have the 25- to 30-year-old girls that knew about the New Kids but didn't get to go see them. They're the ones that are saying, 'I am so going to see the New Kids on the Block.' "