New Kids on the Block

Merry, Merry Christmas

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By the fall of 1989, the New Kids on the Block were so huge that their holiday album Merry, Merry Christmas catapulted into the Top Ten upon its release, reaching double-platinum status not long afterward. That's the sure sign of teen-idol stardom reaching the supernova point -- when a special-interest album becomes a multi-platinum blockbuster. Maurice Starr, the boys' producer and Svengali, probably knew that he had a seasonal hit on his hands, given the sales of Hangin' Tough, but to his credit, he and NKOTB didn't turn out a piece of pure product with Merry, Merry Christmas. Yes, it does suffer from silliness and dated production, but that is part and parcel with any teen-pop release. What counts is the energetic, goofy performances, which are genuinely spirited even when the songs are as ridiculous as "Funky, Funky Xmas." It's the kind of record that will appeal to any hardcore NKOTB fan, or any kitsch-loving pop culture maven. But even those irony-drenched hipsters will have to admit that "This One's for the Children" is a genuinely strong holiday song that deserved to be the Top Ten hit that it was.

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