The story of how five boys from Boston rose from nothing to become unlikely international recording stars in the late 1980s—and the more interesting story of the legion of devoted “Blockheads” that has sustained them ever since.
None of the largely nondescript personalities (save perhaps the gregarious Donnie Wahlberg) that comprise the New Kids on the Block is revealed to any significant degree in Van Noy’s (So Much to Say: Dave Matthews Band—20 Years on the Road, 2011) otherwise readable band biography. But that clearly is not the point. Instead, the author is more concerned with illustrating the truly fascinating (bewildering?) bond that has seemingly been magically forged between NKOTB and their female fans—aka “Blockheads.” The author quotes random fans extensively, and she dutifully chronicles the group’s humble beginnings on the streets of Boston to their jet-setting zenith conquering the pop world. Despite the general banality of Jordan, Jon, Joe, Donnie and Danny, there is true profundity in the stories of accomplished adult women who, during their formative years, fell in love with five flickering images on TV screens and never let go. Van Noy maintains the gossamer veneer throughout, collecting the band’s dirty laundry and tidily stowing it far out of sight. The author quickly skates over many of the intragroup conflicts – including hot-button issues like NKOTB’s decision to part ways with original producer Maurice Starr, Joey McIntyre’s gripes about his perennial outsider status and Jon Knight’s surprising sexuality. Even though the NKOTB/Blockhead romance burned as hot as a neutron star inside teenage girls’ hearts, you’d never know it by the way Van Noy manages to keep everything so chaste.
A gauzy, PG-13 love letter from NKOTB to the throngs of faithful women responsible for making their rock-star dreams come true.