cover image New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters

New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters

Nikki Van Noy. Touchstone, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6785-1

Music writer Van Noy (So Much to Say: Dave Matthews Band—20 Years on the Road) applies her skills in thorough reporting and thoughtful analysis to an unlikely subject: New Kids on the Block, the first of the “boy band” phenomenon of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The New Kids—cute, young, white pop rockers whose five-part harmonies and hip-hop dance moves captured the hearts of millions of adoring teen and tween girls—set the mold for the careers of imitators such as the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. Van Noy takes what seems like a clichéd pop story—New Kids meteoric rise and equally swift collapse—and turns it into something special, a fascinating tale that will delight the band’s large fan base as well as enlighten its harsh critics. She takes a serious look at the cultural roots of a band born and raised in the shadow of Boston’s polarizing busing controversy. She gets great quotes from band members like Donnie Wahlberg, the group’s cofounder and resident John Lennon figure (“I am—and I think we are as new Kids—the success story of busing”). Van Noy explores New Kids’ huge postreunion online fan base, millions of “Blockheads” whose intense devotion and concert-going support is equal—and surprisingly similar in style—to devoted followers of Phish and the Grateful Dead. Agent: Coleen O’Shea, Allen O’Shea Literary Agency. (Oct.)