Reflection Section: Behind The Music – Bret Michaels, New Kids on the Block

by Jordan Mark

Time to dive into another Reflection Section! This post reflects on the new, updated Behind the Music episodes of Bret Michaels and New Kids on the Block.

Poison frontman Bret Michaels has had determination that’s leveled him throughout life. The episode heavily featured his life as a member of the band, and much like previous episodes of this series, it highlighted times where he succumbed to interpersonal conflict within the band and being shunned by the media when music trends were changing.

Michaels has had a life of many wake-up calls. From being diagnosed as a diabetic at a young age to getting in a car crash and having a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, the various hills and valleys that he’s overcome make his songs as a member of Poison and his solo career more meaningful. If “Nothing but a Good Time” is equivalent to the spirit of the fans (according to new interviewee Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour), then the life experiences can only enhance that. Pleasurable and purposeful: a pretty solid combo for a catalogue, I would say.

Michaels’ viewpoint of looking at the horizon coincides with all the struggles he’s gone through because looking down reminds someone of what they’re dealing with currently. Looking in the distance, on the other hand, gives people perspective, and lets them feel like there’s an escape to relief. It may be the other way around for others, but either way, potential is present. It just happens to be from the distance for Michaels.

Moving on to New Kids on the Block. Consisting of Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Jonathan Knight, and Jordan Knight (unlike Duran Duran’s line-up with unrelated Taylors, the Knights are related), the guys that went from typical guys in Massachusetts to popular guys in the world had become engulfed with fame, fortune, and fandom at young ages. An accidental, yet necessary change in direction from being marketed as a R&B group to a pop group led the guys to becoming a qualified act capable of bringing in revenue.

It’s very evident that the camaraderie between the guys is nothing short of a well-bound brotherhood. Granted, Jordan and Jonathan are related, but as the guys had already known each other as childhood companions before the band was ever formed (aside from McIntyre, who came from a different town), their brotherhood has this intrinsic quality that’s notable. Though many bands do form under the consensus of knowing each other and liking music, New Kids on the Block managed to be successful (which shifts it from being corny to valid for me).

The main takeaway from the episode was the idea of youthfulness and how it’s still present in them as they got older. Since their second incarnation, they took the good parts of being young and decayed the bad parts (which for Wood means being a grandfather who can b-boy). Wahlberg’s mentality has real significance, finding joy in retiring his mother at the expense of not experiencing teenage normalcies (which in itself is not selfish, making him even less selfish) and developing a resilience over criticism as he got older.

Much like Ricky Martin, Jonathan had the struggle of coming out when fame entered his life, and even though it took an unfortunate threat to cause him to reveal rather than personal choice in the second incarnation, it ultimately worked out. Wahlberg said that people see themselves in Jonathan more than the others, and I can see that when I look at the group. Jonathan is overall larger in size from the rest. He also battles anxiety, and though that’s a negative thing to deal with, in a way that (plus his burly size) makes him admirable (which I presume is something new interviewee/old ex-girlfriend singer Tiffany saw, and still sees, in him). He comes across off as someone to root for instead of someone to idolize, which for a boy bander is a very difficult thing to genuinely pull off.

New Kids on the Block exemplify positivity. It’s a bit comical that they were knocked by critics for not singing deeply awakening songs in their career. Not that there’s zero validity in such criticism, but in the long run, New Kids on the Block have the last laugh. Not only did they box themselves out from being considered a fad, all of them still have ample hair on their heads (though you can debate whether Wahlberg has enough hair for it to be considered ample. Granted, he does not hear criticism.) If singing meaningless pop means going on money-making cruises with loyal fans, retaining ripped bodies and studly looks past young adulthood, and making people happy doing what you love to do with friends, then the lyrics don’t need to be meaningful because everything around your life is.

The final post for the first edition of Behind The Music will end with Fat Joe, but for now, that does it for Reflection Section. Stay tuned for the next post!