New Kids on the Block fans are getting more than a tour from the '80s/'90s pop sensation this spring. Group member Jordan Knight will release a new solo album, "Unfinished," on May 3 (JK Music/Mass Appeal Entertainment/eOne Music), and the singer tells Billboard.com that he's thrilled to get back to his up-tempo pop roots.
"There's this idea that when you turn 40, you automatically go to adult contemporary heaven," Knight jokes, "but I want to try and challenge that. My heart has always been in more up-tempo music you can dance to."
Knight -- who premiered his first single, the club-friendly "Let's Go Higher," on Z100 this morning and released it on iTunes, says that "Unfinished" feels like his first real album since his 1999 solo debut, which produced the Top 10 Hot 100 hit "Give It to You." That release was followed by a ballad-leaning EP entitled "The Fix" in 2004, and in 2006 came "Love Songs," a collection of covers that Knight now says never really felt like his own.
"I wasn't in a good place back then. I just went along with everyone else's idea of what I should make, so I hardly even consider it my album," Knight recalls. "With this album I've been pushing my vision since the beginning, so I'm more in the driver's seat than with any other solo project I've done."
Knight says he decided to make a new solo album "about a year and a half ago" and teamed up with Colby O'Donis, who penned "Let's Go Higher" and is otherwise best known for his work on Lady Gaga's breakthrough single, "Just Dance." Knight co-produced the single and tapped a host of up-tempo-leaning producers/songwriters for the rest of the project as well, including Jonas Jeberg (Pussycat Dolls), JR Hutson (Jill Scott), Nasri Atweh (NKOTB, Justin Bieber/Jaden Smith), Clinton Sparks and Christian Davis.
For fans who are worried that "Unfinished" is completely devoid of slow jams, though, "Knight reassures that the set "is definitely not all up-tempo...there's a place in my heart for ballads, too."
As NKOTB prepares to hit the road for its joint tour with the Backstreet Boys later this year, Knight says he's looking forward to the exposure that trek will afford him, and that he may even test out some of his solo material on the NKOTBSB stage. "You'll probably see me do some of the new stuff on our tour, for sure," Knight says, adding that while he probably won't do an official solo tour until his group's road trip wraps up, he'll be making promo appearances and performances in the markets they visit.
The resurgence of NKOTB also means that Knight and his bandmates' personal lives are back in the spotlight. "I just had to block someone on Facebook who was impersonating my wife," Knight laughs. "It does get crazy sometimes, but I've never complained about stopping to give autographs or anything like that." Knight also says he fully supports his brother Jonathan Knight's recent letter to fans, which he sent after '80s star Tiffany inadvertently outed him as gay on television. In the note, Knight said that he's "never hidden his sexuality" but simply chooses not to speak publicly on his private life. "I loved what he said. I thought it was perfect," Knight says.
With "Let's Go Higher" out now, Knight promises that a music video will follow soon, and that fans can look forward to him breaking out a few dance moves in the clip. "I can still cut a rug," Knight says with a laugh. "I probably will bring back some choreography for the video -- that's what the song calls for! -- but it won't be on the level that it was with the "Give It to You," which was like nonstop choreography...and I won't be doing the Dougie."