First we’ll give you the facts and then … the dare.
On June 1, the New Kids on the Block along with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men will bring The Total Package Tour to the Viejas Arena.
And since each of these acts has made pop music history, with catchy melodies that have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, we dare you to get through this story without having one of the songs we refer to completely dominate the soundtrack of your mind for the rest of the day.
The Boston-bred members of NKOTB are no longer kids, and they’ve been around the block — a lot.
For the past decade the band has enjoyed a surging, screaming wave of popularity, proving that step by step, they have the right stuff … baby. OK, we’ll stop now.
In the early 1980s, Boston producer Maurice Starr, aka Larry Johnson, had a contract dispute with his R&B act New Edition and decided to create a Caucasian version of that group.
At the tender age of 14, Donnie Wahlberg auditioned, Starr approved, and Wahlberg recruited his high school friends to become the next big boy band.
Starr named the group Nynuk and marketed them to black audiences and radio stations, where they were initially perceived as a novelty act.
In 1988, “Please Don’t Go Girl” was released as the lead single to the group’s second album, “Hangin’ Tough,” which was co-produced by the band.
The song was distributed to black stations, utilizing the same strategy as the 1986 debut album, “New Kids on the Block,” which featured the band’s new name.
At first, the song floundered.
But then the New Kids received a standing ovation during a 1988 gig at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, known for its notoriously critical audience.
And when a Tampa DJ at pop station Q105 played “Please Don’t Go Girl,” the song became one of the most requested tracks and NKOTB effectively attracted a mushrooming crossover audience.
With their rat-tailed hair, acid-washed jeans, tight harmonies and synchronized choreography, NKOTB went on to achieve global success with pop hits that included “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “Cover Girl,” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” “Hangin’ Tough,” “I’ll Be Loving You,” “Step by Step” and “Tonight.”
NKOTB also launched a merchandising empire, with the members’ likenesses inspiring everything from a cartoon series to playing cards. Forbes reported that the group earned $115 million for 1990-91, more than Michael Jackson and Madonna.
The singers severed their relationship with Starr in 1993 and parted ways a year later. They were exhausted with constant touring, sales began to drop, and Jonathan Knight was suffering from an anxiety disorder. The NKOTB members went their separate ways until 2008, when Donnie received a demo tape with the song “Click, Click, Click.” He imagined his old friends singing the track, and he eventually sold them on the idea of reuniting after a 15-year break. Since then, NKOTB has toured with Lady Gaga, Backstreet Boys, TLC and Nelly. In October, the group intends to “bring happy back” by hosting Cruise #9 New Orleans to Cozumel. Find more information at nkotb.com.
New Kids on the Block
Donnie Wahlberg, 47
Then: Donnie’s younger brother, Mark Wahlberg, was one of the original members of New Kids on the Block.
Now: Donnie has earned numerous acting credits. He appeared in the 1999 film “The Sixth Sense” and currently plays the role of Danny Reagan in the CBS television series “Blue Bloods.”
Jordan Knight, 47
Then: Jordan has recorded solo projects, including “Unfinished” in 2011. In 2014, he joined Nick Carter to record “Switch.”
Now: The married father of two signed a franchise agreement to convert his Rhode Island gym, Fit World, into a Retro Fitness.
Jonathan Knight, 48
Then: Jonathan suffers from an anxiety order that kept him home-bound from 1994 to 1997.
Now: Last year, Jonathan proposed to fitness trainer Harley Rodriguez during a trip to Africa. In 2015, the couple placed ninth in the CBS reality competition “The Amazing Race.”
Joey McIntyre, 44
Then: Joey was just 12 years old when he joined NKOTB, and for the first year he wanted to quit because the older boys gave him a hard time.
Now: McIntyre stars in and produces the comedy series “Return of the Mac” on the Pop network.
Danny Wood, 48
Then: In the ninth grade, Danny and Donnie would break dance every Friday night at Catholic school dances.
Now: Wood created the Remember Betty Foundation in honor of his mother, who died of breast cancer in 1999. The foundation has raised $1.5 million, and helps to cover treatment expenses of New Kids fans with breast cancer.
Boyz II Men
The members of Boyz II Men attended Philadelphia’s High School of Creative and Performing Arts and were classically trained vocalists who sang a cappella in a lot of bathrooms (can’t beat those acoustics) before they sneaked into a Bell Biv DeVoe show and auditioned backstage for BBD’s Michael Bivins. One of the best-selling artists of all time, the group won four Grammy Awards in the 1990s with timeless classic R&B songs such as “I’ll Make Love to You” and “End of the Road.” The group was a quartet until 2003, when member Michael McCary left due to illness. Earlier this month, the Philadelphia City Council voted to rename a section of Broad Street “Boyz II Men Boulevard.”
Shawn Stockman, 44
Then: When he was just 9 years old, Stockman was touring with the Philadelphia Boys Choir.
Now: Stockman has a son with autism, which motivated him to launch the nonprofit organization Micah’s Voice in 2012 to help support families dealing with the condition.
Nathan Morris, 45
Then: The founding member of Boyz II Men got kicked out of a world history class for singing out loud.
Now: He likes to relax at his new house in Florida, which boasts 20-foot ceilings, huge windows and an ocean view.
Wanya Jermaine Morris, 43
Then: He dated the singer Brandy.
Now: Last year, he competed with Lindsay Arnold on “Dancing With the Stars” and finished the competition in fourth place.
Paula Abdul, 54
A former Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader and choreographer for video and stage (Janet Jackson, Duran Duran, Pointer Sisters), Abdul became one of the first women to chart four No. 1 singles with her 1988 debut album, “Forever Your Girl.” She went on to serve as a judge on “American Idol” for seven years in addition to appearing on “Dancing With the Stars: All Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Then: Abdul choreographed Janet Jackson’s 1986 “Nasty” music video in 30 minutes in front of her bathroom mirror.
Now: Abdul stated earlier this year that she would not return to the reboot of “American Idol.”
The Total Package Tour with New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men
When: 7:30 p.m. June 1
Where: Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, San Diego State University, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, San Diego
Tickets: $39.95-$199.95, VIP packages $249-$995
Phone: (800) 745-3000