It’s The New Kids on the Block’s Obligatory Christmas Album! And before I get started, I would like to wish everyone the funkiest of Christmases.
As soon as I saw this almost-20’th-anniversary reissue in the record store, I knew it was coming home with me. There was no question and no discussion. But on the way home, I realized there was one question: is this album any good?
We… will get to that in a bit. Until then, let’s talk about Christmas albums. They must be very tempting to make. I guess that’s why every musician seems to have at least one. It’s a no-brainer too: if you record the definitive version of a beloved standard, or a new song that people fall in love with, it will be played every year. It’s kind of sweet. Every time you hear “Last Christmas” for the thousandth time, George Michael gets a royalty check. Aww.
There are no definitive new versions of old standards in “Merry, Merry Christmas” and only two of the new songs are anything memorable. See, this cassette tape received the least play out of all the NKOTB’s albums. And now that I have listened to it the whole way through for the first time on CD, I don’t think it was because of it’s one-season-only appropriateness. The fun trivia fact here is that Donnie was kicked out of a deep sleep to record “Last Night I Saw Santa Claus” (it sounds like it), but the whole album has such an attitude of “Aw, f*** it! It’ll still sell millions, we can totally phone it in!”
I’ve already put forth the theory that the New Kids on the Block cartoon is actually an elaborate parody of celebrity-based cartoons elsewhere. I’m starting to wonder if this album is actually a parody of mediocre Christmas albums?
The Best Parts:
O…kay, how am I going to do this. By seconds?
1 minute, 45 seconds in – Still not as Glurge-heavy as “Hands Across America“. (What the hell was that all about anyway? Supporting the poor? Protesting pollution? Promoting world peace? The hell of it?)
2 minutes, 21 seconds in – Cue the Angelic Choir!
3 minutes, 10 seconds in – I’m feeling those lighters.
5 minutes, 7 seconds in – I am going to let somebody else make the jokes here.
7 minutes, 42 seconds in – Cue the Disney-Style Oscar-Baiting End-Credits Song music!
9 minutes, 17 seconds in – I have a feeling the guys weren’t all that enthusiastic about this song.
10 minutes, 4 seconds in – I’m sure this isn’t the saddest letter Santa’s ever received.
11 minutes, 25 seconds in – You know, I actually would like to hear the reindeers’ thoughts on this situation.
12 minutes, 55 seconds in – Ladies and gentlemen, Joey’s new voice.
13 minutes, 53 seconds in – Really, what did you expect? Are there any Christmas songs that say, “Eh, who cares about the children!”
16 minutes, 24 seconds in – There are no songs in the world that could have survived that opening line.
17 minutes, 31 seconds in – “We need more Angels!”
19 minutes, 25 seconds in – Well, the very end is nice.
20 minutes, 27 seconds in – “Screw everything, we’ll pad this coaster with standards! The world needs more versions of ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’!”
21 minutes, 21 seconds in – Hey, he missed a line! I wonder if Jordan mixed up his lyrics sheets by accident and just didn’t care.
22 minutes, 55 seconds in – Scary Strings!
24 minutes, 27 seconds in – Big finish!
24 minutes, 42 seconds in – I see now why this and “This One’s For the Children” are the only songs anyone remembers. Enjoy this live version from the Arsenio Hall show.
26 minutes, 28 seconds in – WTF does “Kick the ballistics” mean?
26 minutes, 54 seconds in – Is… Joey in the same state he was while filming “The Fantasticks“?
28 minutes, 33 seconds in – “I am making this up as I go!”
29 minutes, 33 seconds in – Yay! I wonder what they will top that with?
30 minutes, 10 seconds in – One of Jon’s two solo songs ever. 😦
32 minutes, 42 seconds in – I wonder if I’ve got time to make cocoa and bake some cookies before the next track?
33 minutes, 50 seconds in – Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no!
35 minutes, 3 seconds in – NOBODY survives that “Pa-rum-pa-PUM-pum” bit.
36 minutes, 25 seconds in – Just end already! 😡
37 minutes, 3 seconds in – There is no need for a version of “Little Drummer Boy” that is longer than a minute and a half!
38 minutes in – Reprise time!
~*~ Poetry Corner ~*~
“Many people are happy / And many people are sad!” – “This One’s for the Children”
“Last Night I saw Santa Claus! / What’s he got in his great big bag for me?” – “Last Night I Saw Santa Claus”
“I’m sure if all his reindeer / can make room on his sleigh / I’d receive a big, bright package / And she’d be mine today!” – “I’ll Be Missing You Come Christmas” (come to think of it, the line about the package is kind of eerie)
“Peace to the World / from the New Kids on the Block / We are here!” – “Merry, Merry Christmas”
Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Christmas is serious business.
* – Santa is a rock star.
* – Jordan should not rap.
* – Neither should Joe.
* – Ballistics must be kicked at Christmastime.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? Uh…
Good Soundtrack? It’s very phoned-in.
Hot Guys? Just the New Kids.
Pretty Scenery? Uh…
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? Uh… welcome to the first ever record review!
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when there are soaring angelic synthesizers.
Head Movie Potential? Drugs suck!
This gets a Jordan ONLY because it includes “Funky, Funky Christmas”.
A New Kids on the Block album reissued by Sony BMG Music Entertainment in 2008 (original released in 1989). Nearly all new songs written or co-written by Maurice Starr.
Legacy Recordings page
X-Entertainment reviews the “Hangin’ Tough” documentary – Hey, remember when Matt had about eight or nine other guys working with him on his website? This is one of the highlights from that time.