Friday, October 28, 2022

"Hangin' Tough" by New Kid on the Block

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3965
Date:  07/15/1989
Debut:  71
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  It took a while, but the boy band finally started to break through with the first two singles from their second album Hangin' Tough, both of which made the Pop Top 10. However, it would be the third single, "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," that would get to #1 and kick NKOTB mania into high gear. They would follow up that hit with this title track single. It would end up replicating the success of their previous single by spending a week at the top of the Pop chart. However, it would sell twice as many copies and would end up going platinum. The week this song reached its peak, the album would also made it to #1. It did so after having been on the chart for over a year (it hit the top spot in its 55th week). It would stay at #1 for two weeks. With those results, NKOTB became the first teen group to have a #1 single and a #1 album in the same week.

ReduxReview:  Okay, I admit their previous hits, especially in retrospect, were pretty good. I wasn't a fan, but recognized that they along with producer/songwriter Maurice Starr were tossing out some fluffy teen ear candy. However, I drew the line at this one. At the time I thought it was awful and was amazed that it actually went to #1. I blame MTV and teen girls for that. By the point this single came out, the group had become huge teen idols and they were boiling hot, so most anything they put out was going to do well; and it was proven with this track. With a lead vocal by Donnie Wahlberg, this lumbering, goofy thing I think was supposed to give them a little more street cred and sort of take a little shine off of their glimmering teen image. It came off like kids pretending to be something they were definitely not. From the music, to the horrible lyrics, to the thin production, to the pseudo rap sections, this tune was only for a certain crowd and that crowd did not include me. It's still just as cringe-worthy today as it was back then. I'm glad they got a #1 out of it and that many folks enjoyed it, but it was a painful listen for me.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  The group would receive a lone Grammy nomination during their career. They would get a nomination in the Best Music Video - Long Form category. It was for the Hangin' Tough tape, which included the videos for four of their hits along with behind the scenes footage. Released in the summer of '89 just as this title track single was taking off, it would be a big seller going 11x platinum (roughly the equivalent of 1.1 million copies). The boys would lose the Grammy to the long form video for Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 album.


1 comment:

  1. There are at least three different versions of this thing too. The album version you link here is less interesting (for whatever it's worth) than the single version or the "tougher mix." The album version lacks the punchy keyboard chords after the whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh chants. Those chords were familiar when I played the single version, but I sure didn't notice their absence on the album version.

    I guess this underscores just how much the song sucks. There are multiple versions with major differences, and you don't even notice them unless you are actively looking for them.