Sunday, 11 October 2009

1989 New Kids On The Block: You Got It (The Right Stuff)

Having learned from his exploits with New Edition as to just how much money could be made from a bunch of pretty boys, it came as no surprise to find Maurice Starr once again throwing his hat into the ring by assembling another teen band creation. Except maybe there's a surprise in that it took him so long to get them off the ground.

An all white affair this time round, the very name 'New Kids On The Block' suggests a year zero, the definitive word on the sound of the streets. But alas, it's very apt that 'You Got It' opens with the sound of a car skidding off the road - these new kids were wearing some very old hats. How old? Well the beats that follow could be carbon dated to....oooooh, 1981, with the clockwork rote of the tune very reminiscent of 'Computer World' Kraftwerk (an album that the early hip hop pioneers pillaged mercilessly), albeit with every third note removed.

If New Edition were viewed as a family friendly (i.e. 'white') version of black street culture, then the block these new kids were from and their bleached white sound was further removed from the genuine article than even Vanilla Ice managed, itself no mean feat. Jordan Knight does his very best impersonation of Prince to atone, but mimicry is all it is and even at his most lazy, a Prince B side would contain more style and verve than any part of this.

Because to rub a fistful of salt into an already very deep wound, 'You Got It' sounds like the fragments of three different fragments clamped together with some chanting 'oh, oh, oh, oh' glue, the idea being that five choreographed boys in vests would wash away the sin of not actually having a song to dance to. But it doesn't. The song is very much a secondary consideration and it shows, because as songwriter Mr Starr himself once proudly stated: "My whole thing is promotion, strategy, marketing and management". Quite.

'You Got It' is the distasteful and cynical sound of corporate rock at it's most hollow, soulless and value free. It's food already chewed and chewed in someone else's mouth before being spat out onto a plate and presented as some kind of a rare treat. The most depressing thing is that there were no end of people eager to lap it up.

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