The nine-man amalgamation of two formerly teen-dreamy boy bands, Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, has dropped their first single. Now it’s up to listeners to decide whether it’s (1) an awesome powerhouse comeback, prime to burst their embers of fame back into full-on stars or (2) just kind of sad.
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The New Kids are really the old kids on the block, predating the Backstreet heyday by about a decade. Ages in the super-group range from 31 to 42, and, taken all together, the band’s combined age comes in at about 340 years — i.e., if you stretched their lives back in a line, William Penn would be encouraging English Quakers to discover this new land called “America” and Mozart wouldn’t have been born yet. If Kevin Richardson, the paternal figure in the Backstreet Boys, had joined to make the group a perfect 10, we’d be talking Galileo.
That said, making old jokes about these two in-their-time incredibly successful pop bands is about as difficult as riffing cleverly on the wetness of the ocean. Taking a listen to the song itself, “Don’t Turn Off the Lights,” we find a catchy tune reminiscent of those many, many songs any 20-something woman once danced to around her bedroom, whether she admits it or not. Sassily quipped verses are followed by an energetic chorus, and there’s a bridge for the men to emotionally croon semi-a capella before the beat roars back. At the heart of the song is a typically poignant metaphor: The light switch in question is one that signifies the on/off status of a relationship, and the men want the woman to keep her fingers off it.
If this song had been released by either group when they were at their peaks, it would have no doubt been a success, played in cars and at high school dances across the country. But will their nostalgic tunes stand a new test of time? If not, let’s just hope they take the leave of the pop scene this time by doing a rendition of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music. Because they actually have enough people to do that, Captain von Trapp and Maria included.
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