NKOTB Helps an Awkward Dude Grow Up

New Kids (200)

hide captionThe New Kids, live on NBC — in 2008.

Scott Gries/Getty Images

This morning, the New Kids on the Block kicked off their reunion tour on the Today show here in New York. It's the 20th anniversary of "Hangin' Tough," and when I first heard this fact at a BPP editorial meeting about a month ago, I couldn't believe it. I said "I'm 29 now, so I would have had to have been 9 years old when 'Hangin' Tough' came out, and that can't be right." I have no memory of the New Kids on the Block before junior high.

Soon after that meeting, I was picking out some NKOTB music to play for the show, and I put on "Please Don't Go Girl." I heard the first few terrible notes, and it all came back to me. Not only did I have memories of NKOTB before junior high, but I had been in a New Kids on the Block cover band in the fifth grade. I had blacked it all out, for obvious reasons.

I had transferred to a new school in fourth grade, and the cool kids were Jean, John, Jennifer, and Kevin. They had a singing group, where they'd sing along to songs by Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and the New Kids, performing at talent shows and the like. I hated that music when I got there, but I wanted to be friends with them. Somehow I ended up in the band.

As embarrassing as it is to look back at my fifth-grade self, singing New Kids songs in front of my entire elementary school, I've got to make "Please Don't Go Girl" the Best Song in the World Today. Because when I look back at this memory, it's clear the New Kids played an unlikely role in helping me to stop being the new kid.

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