They Reminisce Over You Podcast

New Edition cover art for episode 66 of the They Reminisce Over You Podcast

Apr 12, 2024

Episode 66 - New Edition: Boys To Men

Episode Summary

On this episode, we are having a conversation about the 40+ year career of one of the greatest R&B groups of all time, and the inspiration for all of the boy bands that followed their blueprint. From direct descendants like New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men, to current day acts like BTS, New Edition is “where it all started.” We talked about the early discography, Bobby Brown leaving the group after their 3rd album, the addition of Johnny Gill for the Heart Break album and the solo works of Bobby, Johnny, Ralph Tresvant, as well the Bell Biv Devoe projects. We also got into the many reunions over the years, including this current run with all six members participating.


Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You, I'm Miguel.

Christina: And I'm Christina.

Miguel: This week, we are talking about one of the greatest boy bands in history, the blueprint for all boy bands to follow. They were formed in 1978 in Boston, Massachusetts. The original lineup was Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe and Ricky Bell. We're talking about New Edition, people.

Christina: [mimics air horns]

Miguel: New Edition gained fame in the early 1980s with hits like “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now.” Their music blended elements of R&B, pop and hip hop making them pioneers in the genre. In 1985, young Bobby Brown left the group or was kicked out, depending on who you talk to, to pursue a solo career and after making one album as a foursome, Johnny Gill was added to the lineup in 1987, shortly before the recording of their album Heart Break, one of my favorite albums of all time.

Christina: This I know.

Miguel: Over the years, the members of New Edition have pursued both solo careers and occasional reunions, delighting fans with their timeless hits and energetic performances, which we just saw a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas.

Christina: We did.

Miguel: Their influence on R&B and pop music is widely recognized and they continue to be celebrated as one of the most iconic groups in music history. So let's get into this New Edition episode. You ready?

Christina: Let's do it! “Candy Girl!”

Miguel: So let's start this off by talking about their early discography. The first two albums, Candy Girl and the New Edition album. The big hits from those were “Is This The End?” “Popcorn Love,” “Candy Girl,” “Jealous Girl,” “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” all of that stuff. That's when I first became a fan. I was too young to be into The Jackson 5 and The Sylvers and The Osmonds. That's what my aunts and uncles were listening to. Our parents' generation was like The Temptations and The Four Tops and The Miracles and all of them. While New Edition drew from those groups, they were different because they incorporated hip hop.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: This was the early days of hip hop, so me being a little 8-year-old snot nose running around, this was right up my alley.

Christina: And they're just a couple years older than you.

Miguel: Yeah, exactly. It wasn't like my aunts and uncles' ages. They were like an older brother age. And after hearing that stuff, I was hooked. What about yourself?

Christina: I was a little too young, so I was not familiar with these two albums until later. And that was more of backtracking. So I actually wasn't introduced to New Edition as a group. I knew them as solo acts first. Somewhere along the line, I remember hearing If It Isn't Love, and I was like, wait a minute. All of these guys used to be in a group. So they came out a little too early for me.

Miguel: Yeah, for me, it was perfect because, like I said, those other groups were...I knew of them just because of hearing other people playing it and seeing the albums around the house and whatnot. But this was the first time that something actually spoke to me. And as we're aware, whenever boy bands and girl groups are popular, they're generally targeted towards young people like that from age of eight to like 15. So I was right there ready for this. And just hearing Ralph's high pitched voice, he sounded a lot younger than he was. So that worked for me.

Christina: And the, the subject matter?

Miguel: Well I was eight.

Christina: “There's a jealous girl in our town.”

Miguel: I really didn't know what they were singing about. I just knew they looked young and they could have been like older brother age. And you know how kids look up to teenagers. That's how it felt.

Christina: And all the dancing and stuff, too.

Miguel: They had the dance moves. They were out there singing. They had a little rapping going on, too. So I thought they were the coolest things ever. So obviously, you didn't know about these songs. But now that you've listened to them, what are your thoughts on some of these early songs from New Edition?

Christina: I mean, I can understand why they were popular because even discovering the songs later, they're very catchy and watching them perform “Candy Girl” as grown men. And yet, you can still feel that youthful infectious energy of...yore, that you could watch these like, what are they, like 50 plus?

Miguel: Yeah, they're liking their mid-50s, closing in on 60 now.

Christina: And you know, it's still fun watching them sing “Candy Girl” and “Mr. Telephone Man.”

Miguel: And Michael doing his little skits at the telephone booth in the concert.

Christina: You know how a lot of times we'll have these young acts, but they'll sing really inappropriate songs?

Miguel: Yeah, they didn't do that.

Christina: Yeah, this is like it makes sense. It's like he's calling his girl and there's a click every time, but he doesn't seem to get like there's nothing wrong with the telephone.

Miguel: Yeah, she just doesn't want to talk to you.

Christina: So it's like age appropriate too.

Miguel: Right. I think my favorite song from that era is “Jealous Girl,” not because it's a great song or anything. But I know Bobby is singing his heart out on this song. And he's given it all he's got. And I always just laugh at it whenever I go back and listen to it. He's given his all on this record.

Christina: I just think the “there's a jealous girl in our town.” That always makes me laugh. Like they're from Boston is not like it's a small town.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: And there's one jealous, one jealous girl in our town.

Miguel: Oh, man, it's something needs to be done about her, apparently.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Listening to “Is This The End?” You say this all the time. How it's literally the same thing as New Kids On The Block.

Christina: Yes. So I discovered this semi recent maybe like five years ago, because that was one of the songs I didn't know. And I can't remember. I think we were just talking about and I went back and just listened to the album. I knew New Kids On The Block because they came out a little later. Which is funny, I was never really a New Kids fan, even though I was like the right age for it. But for some reason, maybe maybe there was a little part of me that knew that they were like, you know, a ripoff.

Miguel: Subliminally, you knew that they weren't the originals.

Christina: Yeah. I was like, something's off. Because I remember I did like “Please Don't Go Girl.”

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: But I think I found like the “Hangin' Tough” and all that stuff felt corny like that. I think, like I said, there was a little part of me that's like, something's off.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: But yeah, I did like “Please Don't Go Girl.” And so I remember when I finally listened to “Is This The End?” I was like [gasp], this is the exact same song. Like I knew the whole Maurice Starr...what do we call it?

Miguel: Connection.

Christina: Scam. Connection. Where he discovered them and then went on to like, hey, let me do this again but with white kids. So I knew that there was that connection, but I was shocked that it was literally the same song.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: And so much so that when the two groups performed together at the American Music Awards in 2021, they did a mashup and it was seamless.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: And obviously, you know, whatever happened in terms of them, the New Kids On The Block, getting their group formed, the guys themselves know where they came from.

Miguel: Yeah, because like I told you yesterday, Donnie has always given it up to New Edition.

Christina: Yeah, and he's doing the whole performance in an NE t-shirt. But like you could tell that even though they were performing together, they were almost doing a tribute to NE at the same time. And you could just tell when they came out and sang those two songs together that Joey, I think? Yeah, Joey's the Ralph Tresvant of New Kids On The Block. He was having a good time doing that little mashup with him. But yeah, I just couldn't get over the fact that I'm like, this is literally the same song. And also, I mean, it makes sense why that song sounded so soulful, because it's basically a New Edition ripoff.

Miguel: The first time I heard it, I thought it was New Edition, because their voices had changed and gotten a little deeper. But then I'm like, why does Ralph sound like that again? It didn't make sense to me. And then I found out that it was New Kids, because they were getting played on KDAY.

Christina: I mean, that song is R&B.

Miguel: Yeah, I just assumed that they were Black until, like I said, I first thought it was New Edition. And then I realized that it wasn't. And I just assumed they were a group of little Black kids trying to be New Edition. And then I see them on TV and like, this is New Kids On The Block?

Christina: And the fact that they're called New Kids On The Block as well It's like, I see what you're doing, Maurice.

Miguel: Exactly. He knew what he was doing.

Christina: He knew exactly what he was doing. But it's funny, too, that that song came out in '88. And “Is This The End?” came out in '82.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: But it still worked.

Miguel: It did. And that just kind of goes into how their career went and continues to go. They are like at the forefront and they're trendsetters, but they never get any of the credit.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Until recently, everything about the business side of their careers has been terrible. Like they've been getting ripped off from day one. Bad management, bad contracts. You have all these other groups who are clearly clones of them being much more successful than they were. But it all started with them. And that always bothered me. Because, like I said, that was my favorite group and still is my favorite R&B group. And I think they deserve more than they've gotten over the years.

Christina: Yeah, because I think even though they're getting their flowers now, it's like, I mean, I guess better late than never. But it's like shouldn't have taken this long.

Miguel: No. Not at all.

Christina: And as you were saying, Donny, every chance he gets, this is what he says.

Miguel: Exactly.

Christina: Because when I was looking up old videos, I watched the AMA performances that I mentioned, plus something else I saw. And Donnie both times came up, if there was no New Edition, there'd be no New Kids, there'd be no NSYNC, there'd be no Boyz II Men. And he just every single time.

Miguel: Hey, he knows.

Christina: He's like no O-Town, no nothing.

Miguel: If nobody else is going to do it, Donnie Wahlberg is going to let the world know that New Edition started all of it.

Christina: Yeah, it was just killing me with that NE t-shirt. I know we're supposed to be here to talk about New Edition, but I just have to say one more thing. Someone in the comments was like Donnie looked like he'd been waiting his whole life to do the “If It Isn't Love” choreography, you can just see it in his face. Like this man has done this routine in his bedroom many times.

Miguel: I'm sure. I am sure.

Christina: So we'll definitely link to the video,[1] but back to New Edition.

Miguel: Yes. So the group consisted of five members, like I said, in the intro. You had your lead singer, Ralph Tresvant, who was like the Michael Jackson of the group. Your second lead, Bobby Brown, who is the baby of the group, which I just found out when we went to see them in Vegas when they were talking about their ages and he yelled, I'm the baby. So he's the youngest. You have your two rappers with Michael and Ronnie and your third singer, who should have gotten more shine in those days. But as the years progressed, he was becoming more and more of a lead singer, Mr. Ricky Bell.

So them each having a defined role in the group was good for a while until it wasn't because you had the rambunctious one. And we all know who that is, who wanted to be a little bit more than what they were giving him in the group. Even though he's the one who basically started the group, he was kind of pushed aside once they actually started singing, because we all know Bobby's not the best singer, but he can hold a note.

Christina: He can. And I think they probably liked having Ralph as a lead because it's kind of like the Jackson 5.

Miguel: Right. Yeah. So he wasn't going to be the lead singer all the time. And that kind of led to some tension amongst the group members. Him being the baby of the group, like I said, he has little brother energy. So he's always trying to say, me, me, me, look at me, look at what I can do.

A lot of that is what caused some tension within the group. By the time they got to their third album, I didn't notice this until I read Bobby's book but for all the promo shoots and the photos for the album cover, the singles, they're wearing different types of suits and whatnot. But Bobby took his tie off and put it around his head like a bandana. So there's a bunch of pictures of him wearing his tie on his head like Rambo. And that just tells you how he fit into the group and why it was becoming a problem.

And after a while, their management started playing both sides against each other, telling the other four, hey, you might want to think about getting him out of here. He's a loose cannon. He's going to mess it up for everybody while going to Bobby and saying, hey, maybe you should go solo. They're holding you back. So depending on who you talk to, he was either kicked out or he chose to leave. But they decided to part ways after the recording of their third album, All For Love. I know you haven't been a fan as long as I have, but have you had a chance to listen to the All For Love album?

Christina: Let me look at the track list because I get the early ones mixed up. OK, so this, I have listened to this one. Well, like, I don't really know any of these songs except for “Count Me Out.”

Miguel: “Count Me Out” and “A Little Bit Of Love” were the biggest songs from this album.

Christina: Because I'm more familiar, even though I discovered their older stuff later, I'm definitely more familiar with the previous two albums.

Miguel: Yeah, like I said, this one didn't have as many hits on it, but it still went platinum and it was big in the hood. So we were playing it. And this is how we found out Bobby wasn't in the group anymore. When the videos came out, he just wasn't in them. It was like, where's the funny looking dude with the gap?

Christina: Which they play up in their live performance.

Miguel: Yes, he's always leaving the stage and coming back. "I wasn't on that song, so I'm leaving."

Christina: "You guys counted me out."

Miguel: So around the time they're doing that, he's working on his solo album, the King Of Stage album, which had the classic song, “Girlfriend” and “Girl Next Door” and a couple other not so big hits, but minor hits, leading to what we would know happening in 1988, which was his comeback.

Christina: And what a comeback it was.

Miguel: Yes. The Don't Be Cruel album.

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: The funny thing about the Don't Be Cruel and Heart Break eras is, first of all, they were released on the same day.

Christina: Which I'm sure was not a coincidence.

Miguel: Not at all. When you have record label and management planting things in your ear saying you need to go over here, hey, you guys need to kick him out and then playing them against each other and, hey, let's release their albums on the same day.

But it was released on the same day in June of 1988. New Edition had Jam and Lewis on their side. Bobby had L.A. and Babyface on his side. One of the few times I will get down to some L.A. and Babyface records, by the way.

Christina: And a little bit of Teddy Riley.

Miguel: Yeah, there's a little bit of Teddy Riley as well.

Christina: "Right, Ted?"

Miguel: "We outta here."

Miguel: But can you imagine--well, you can imagine because you were there at the time that you have Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on one side making the NE Heart Break album. L.A., Babyface and Teddy Riley on the other side making the Don't Be Cruel album. And both of these are just cranking out hits and not knowing what the other side is doing. It blows my mind every time I think about it because both albums are great and launch both into another stratosphere.

Christina: The thing that I always thought was funny for the cover of Heart Break was they're wearing their suits because they're like, look, we're grown men now.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: Even though they were like 18.

Miguel: I don't know.

Miguel: They were early somewhere between 19 to 22.

Christina: OK, somewhere a little bit older than I thought then. But still, it's just like, look at us. We're grown.

Miguel: We're adults.

Christina: We don't talk about candy girls anymore.

Miguel: Yeah, we got this deep voice dude with us now.

Christina: We're growling in the background.

Miguel: Yes. Growling all over the records, which was a surprise because the first single was “If It Isn't Love” and he's not on it. So when you get the album, it's like, what the fuck is this?

Christina: I guess that was recorded before he officially joined the group.

Miguel: No, he was there from the very beginning of the album.

Christina: They just decided there's no parts for you in this one.

Miguel: Same as always. The majority of the songs are Ralph solo songs. So same thing. Like, we ain't going to do it just because Bobby ain't here. And you got this deep voice. I'm the star.

Christina: Well, I do think that “Can You Stand The Rain” was a very good use of balancing out Johnny's voice versus Ralph's voice and then having Ricky sort of be the in-between. Because I know you were not a big fan of adding Johnny because...

Miguel: I wasn't.

Christina: All that growling and the deep voice you thought was not cohesive.

Miguel: Yeah, because...

Christina: But I think “Can You Stand The Rain," they figured it out.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: How to work everyone in.

Miguel: Like the songs that he's on, they made it work. But I just didn't like his style of singing with them because he sang like an old dude. He had some Teddy Pendergrass in it. And coming in after somebody like Bobby, it's different. Bobby's voice isn't high like Ricky and Ralph, but he's not as "arrrgh" as Johnny Gill either. It kind of fit. But Johnny being on these records, it was like, okay, guy, you're doing too much.

Christina: Yeah. And then he was like, just wait till you see me live.

Miguel: You're doing too much, man.

Christina: I guess because I didn't grow up listening to like the early New Edition that for me, it wasn't like, who's this guy? He was just in New Edition.

Miguel: Yeah. And I knew of Johnny Gill, like as a solo artist and doing the albums with Stacy Lattisaw. But I just thought it was random that you have him added to the group out of nowhere. But Ralph did too.

I saw an interview that they did, and he was talking about how they ended up at Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis's studios in Minneapolis. And for two days, they're just kind of hanging out. And then finally, he's like, why is he here? Can someone tell me why Johnny Gill is here with us? Because the rest of the group hadn't told him that they voted him in.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Leading to some tension, which tells you a lot about how they communicate with each other.

Christina: So Johnny got counted in.

Miguel: He did. He got counted in and just walked into a stressful situation without even knowing that.

Christina: And now Johnny is like, what?

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Y'all didn't know I was coming. Well, Ralph didn't know.

Miguel: Ralph didn't know.

Christina: Yeah, the rest of them did.

Miguel: And the rest of them didn't tell Ralph and they didn't tell Johnny that Ralph didn't know. So it was a real bad situation, according to Ralph and Jimmy Jam. But they ended up working it out and put together a damn good album, even though I think he does too much on it. It is my favorite New Edition album by far.

On the other side, you have Bobby Brown putting together the Don't Be Cruel album, which just took off like a rocket. Like if anybody was meant to be a superstar, it's Robert Beresford Brown. He can't be held back. He was a superstar in the truest sense of the word. His heights were as big as anybody outside of Madonna and Michael Jackson between 1987-88 to 1991-92. There were very few people in this world bigger than Bobby Brown. And it started with this album.

Christina: And I think as what happens a lot of times when later in life other things overshadow, I think a lot of people don't know that. Or they're just like this guy?

Miguel: Right. But Bobby was huge and it all started with this album. So I know you know this album.

Christina: Oh yeah. Out of all of them, I think because his album came out, well the two albums that I'm thinking of, not the King Of Stage, the two that came after, this was the time when I was like, you know, fully immersed and also getting really into the dancing side of the music. So Bobby and all those videos, all the dancing. So this was like, oh yeah, Bobby was it. Like I liked the other guys, but he was able to combine like the singing and the dancing. So yeah, I loved it all.

Miguel: So what were your favorite songs from either of these albums?

Christina: So the, what's the second one called now? I forgot. The one that came after King Of Stage. That one's just...

Miguel: Don't Be Cruel.

Christina: Oh duh. Don't Be Cruel. So I would say my favorite ones from that one is “Every Little Step,” “Roni” and “Rock Wit'cha.” I mean, I like “Don't Be Cruel” and “My Prerogative” and stuff, but those, I think those three are like my top ones though.

Miguel: Okay.

Christina: But like the whole album is pretty good.

Miguel: And what about Heart Break?

Christina: So for Heart Break, definitely “Can You Stand The Rain.” That's like my favorite favorite. And “If It Isn't Love.” If we're comparing the two since they came out at the same time, I like Bobby's album better. Like as a full album. And yeah, New Edition, Heart Break. Yeah, the two “Can You Stand The Rain,” “If It Isn't Love.”

Miguel: All right. So after the Don't Be Cruel and the Heart Break albums, they started to branch off and do solo things. So Johnny went, did his solo album. Ralph finally went off and did his solo album. Ricky, Ronnie and Mike, it wasn't a solo album, but they did an outside project called Bell Biv Devoe, which was very big. So this is probably the time that you're really immersed into the NE world, I should say, not knowing that you were. Inadvertently, you were in it. So what were your thoughts on this era and which were your favorites?

Christina: So Bobby again, with the next album, the one with the little sleeve top.

Miguel: Oh, with his back out?

Christina: His back out and just sleeves, a shrug, shoulder shrug.

Miguel: Yeah, that's the Bobby album.

Christina: Yes, the Bobby album. So between the Bell Biv Devoe album and the Bobby album, that was it. I loved it because you had the music and you had the dancing. For Bell Biv Devoe, of course, Poison, the whole album, really. I liked the uptempo and the slow ones, “Thought It Was Me.” And then “When Will I See You Smile Again?” “I Do Need You.”

I think with the Bobby one, I actually prefer more of the uptempo songs, like, “Humpin' Around,” “Get Away,” “That's The Way Love Is.” And then the song him and Whitney were forced to make because no one would believe that they were a couple. I actually really like that song. I think it's cute, though, “Something In Common.” I don't even remember the slow songs off the top of my head now because I just wrote down like my top few.

And I did like Ralph's “Sensitivity,” of course. And surprisingly, Johnny Gill, he's more of like a ballad singer. And he himself has admitted he's not much of a dancer. But I really like “Rub You The Right Way.” And the fact that there's like some girl on TikTok who's like a model and she's doing these dance battles with her model friends to “Rub You The Right Way.”

Miguel: Oh, yeah.

Christina: That's like resurrected the song. And they got Johnny himself to be in one of the videos. But I think because Bell Biv Devoe and Bobby were really getting into the like the New Jack Swing, which was still popular at the time and doing all the dancing stuff. I was really more into that. Whereas like Ralph, who should have been bigger, he just hit that weird time where things were changing. So when his album came out, that Mr. Sensitivity style was kind of like getting replaced by a more hip hop, New Jack Swing style. And there wasn't as much space for him. So I think, as much as I liked him, there wasn't as many standouts on his album.

Miguel: His album wasn't bad. It just wasn't up to what the other guys were doing, if that makes sense.

Christina: Because I think the other guys, especially I think Bell Biv Devoe, who were doing something that was like new and different. And Ralph was still kind of like again, the tail end of the wearing the suits.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Like Mr. Sensitivity.

Miguel: He's the one who's wearing the sheer shirt blowing in the wind, with the wind machine.

Christina: Yeah, but not in like the Jodeci style that would come to...

Miguel: Yeah, he's a hold over the L.A., Babyface type era.

Christina: When everyone was like getting a little hip hop.

Miguel: Like you said, Bobby's wearing just sleeves. There is no shirt. It's just a pair of sleeves.

Christina: He's got the combat boots on.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: Same with Bell Biv Devoe.

Miguel: They're wearing overalls with Timberlands and one strap hanging down. It's airbrushed on the front.

Christina: And as they had described their music, it's a little silly and it's a little long, but it actually makes sense. So like BBD, their tagline was like, "our music is hip hop, smoothed out on the R&B with a pop feel, appeal to it." It's like, okay, that's a mouthful, but actually that makes sense. That's literally what they're doing.

Miguel: Exactly. And with that BBD album, what surprised me is actually how good of a singer Ricky was, because on the first few New Edition albums, he wasn't getting that much airtime.

Christina: And you're like, wait a minute, this guy can sing too?

Miguel: Yeah, like this whole time you guys have been holding him back. I can understand not having Mike or Ronnie sing, but why hasn't Ricky been singing? You let him get a verse here and there, but he can hold his own. Personally, I wouldn't want to hear a full Ricky Bell solo album, because I don't know why he can sing, but I don't need to hear a full album of it.

Christina: I think I would be open to it, because one of my favorite New Edition songs from that reunion album they did is the one where he's the only one singing on it, “One More Day.”

Miguel: Yeah, like I said, I'm good with that. I'm good with him getting a solo song here and there, but I don't want to hear 15 of them.

Christina: I guess.

Miguel: Like the raps from Mike and Ronnie break it up just enough that he kind of balances it out.

Christina: Well, I did see Ricky proving what a good singer he is live, because I saw and I'm going to say New Edition in quotes like a million years ago. I can't remember. I think this was before you and I met or maybe when we first started dating. So that means it's like 15 plus years ago. And this was when for sure you knew Bobby wasn't going to show up. So I wasn't expecting to see Bobby, but Ralph was sick. And this was one of these like nostalgia tours. So they were just one of the groups that were performing.

But Ralph was sick. So Ricky had to sing everybody's parts. He sang his parts. He sang Ralph's parts. He sang Bobby's parts and then Johnny sang his own parts. So he had to do triple duty. And I remember being like, oh, look at Ricky go singing everybody's parts except for Johnny. So it was like BBD plus Johnny, even though it was billed as New Edition. And it was so funny because they were like, oh, we're so sorry Ralph's sick and he couldn't make it today. And there was no mention of Bobby. Like I said, at that point, we all knew Bobby wasn't going to be there.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So Ricky can hold his own.

Miguel: He can. But like I said, I don't want to hear a full album of Ricky Bell.

Christina: I'm open to it.

Miguel: Ricky holding down two verses on most of the songs with some raps thrown in or another singer thrown in. I'm good with that.

Christina: But I will say, like just knowing, I guess, the history of New Edition, it is quite interesting that BBD became so popular out of the solo or non NE projects when you had like the ones that were doing the least.

Miguel: Exactly. They were doing the least in the group, but they're widely more popular than Ralph and Johnny are as solo acts. Like BBD is white famous and Johnny and Ralph are kind of black famous. So that that is weird.

Christina: At least “Poison” is. I'm not sure...

Miguel: Yeah, I'm sure.

Christina: About the other songs. “Poison” for sure.

Miguel: “Poison” and “Do Me” are definitely crossover hits.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: And that's enough to get them notice in the white world. Whereas I don't see Johnny and Ralph having one of those outside of New Edition.

Christina: Right. I don't know if “Rub You The Right Way” is going to crossover. Even if it's a on TikTok.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Also, again, with Ralph, it's too bad for him because he was kind of supposed to go solo first.

Miguel: Yeah, you would think that he would have had the biggest impact as a solo artist.

Christina: Since he was already the lead.

Miguel: So him not having that big success was weird to me.

Christina: Yeah, but I think, like I said, I think it just ended up being bad timing.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: The album came out at the tail end of the style that he was doing.

Miguel: Because even his second album, it was cool, but it didn't match the highs of Bobby and BBD.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: And even Johnny in a sense.

Christina: Yeah. And I think he did try to kind of like update his sound because I actually really like “When I Need Somebody.”

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: And that's that one was a little more of the sound at the time, but I guess maybe it was too little too late.

Miguel: Hey, things happen for a reason.

Christina: Well, he's still a fan favorite though.

Miguel: We saw that when he did his solo songs at the concert, the ladies were going crazy at the front of the stage. And he was giving it right to him.

Christina: A lot of squealing.

Miguel: A lot of squealing and him opening his shirt.

Christina: Oh, they made sure to have all the fans going and the drapes.

Miguel: Yeah, the drapes did fall down slowly when he came out to do “Sensitivity.”

Christina: We have video of this. So yeah, we're going to be uploading some of the footage that we recorded from the show to our YouTube channel.[2] If you want to see some drapes falling and some shirts flapping in the wind.

Miguel: So let's talk about the many reunions and breakups and reunions and breakups and more albums that they did. We can start with 1996, the Home Again album, which is the only album to have all six of them on it. I liked Home Again because and it's funny to me like the way the album starts is very Bobby heavy. It's like a real focus on Bobby in those first couple songs, which was surprising to me considering that he didn't have that big of a profile within the group when he was earlier in it.

Christina: He does now.

Miguel: Because now he's Bobby Brown. What were your thoughts on the Home Again album?

Christina: I thought it was a pretty good album overall. And you know how sometimes when a lot of time passes, the magic can't be captured.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: But I thought it was a pretty good effort. Even if the focuses have changed a little bit, it still felt like a New Edition album. And I feel like Ricky also got to do a little bit more than he used to as well. So I felt like it was more balanced among the lead singers. And I think even Ronnie and Michael got to do a little more of their raps and stuff too. I feel like they tried to balance everyone out a little bit more. And I actually like most of the songs.

Miguel: Yeah, same. Because like you said, it was more balanced amongst all of them. And that probably led to a lot of the issues too. Because how do you say to Bobby Brown, well, you can't do that. He's like, I'm Bobby Brown. I can do what I want. Or how do you say to Ralph and Ronnie, you guys can't do that when Ralph is like, I just had “Sensitivity.” And Ronnie's like, people love my raps.

Christina: Yep.

Miguel: Even though they ain't the greatest raps that him and Mike be doing, they fit.

Christina: They work.

Miguel: They work for them.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: And Ricky's like, how are you going to tell me I can't do it? Because I just did BBD over here.

Christina: Like I'm a lead singer now too.

Miguel: Right. So I'm sure that led to a lot of tension as well. Now you have these big quote unquote stars now who were still young and probably didn't want to check their egos.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: And yeah, that would probably lead to fuck y'all. I don't need you no more. And pulling out pistols on stage and throwing microphones at each other and not even finishing the tour.

Christina: That's crazy. I mean, not only did they not finish the tour, like they were even having beefs with like filming the videos. Yeah, because as I mentioned that song where Ricky is the only singer on the song. Basically, I think Ralph does a little ad libs at the end. The guys didn't even show up. He's the only one in the video.[3]

Miguel: It's just a Ricky Bell video at that point.

Christina: Something tells me he probably didn't mind, though. He's just like--

Miguel: I'm sure.

Christina: Just let me do my thing then. This is my song anyway. But I remember watching that video one day and I was like, wait a minute. Where are the rest of the guys? It took me a moment to even realize that they weren't even there.

Miguel: Right. Yeah, the music, though, I was a fan of.

Christina: Yeah, the album actually, I think it came out really great because when was it? 2016?

Miguel: What, this album?

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: No, 1996.

Christina: I mean--19--Oh my God. 2016. Forget it. I don't know why I said that. 1996. When was the last New Edition album?

Miguel: That was 2004.

Christina: 2016, where did I get that from?

Miguel: The One Love album, minus Bobby. So they were back to the five again. That's the one that I didn't like as much.

Christina: Yeah, I don't even like remember it.

Miguel: That one I didn't like as much. It suffered from, in my opinion, because they had signed to Bad Boy at this point. And it sounds to me that Diddy was trying to create a Bad Boy sound with New Edition. Like these songs could have been done by 112, and it really didn't work for me. There were a couple of cool ones on it, but for the most part, it was just like, eh.

Christina: Yeah, I re-listened to it just to hear it, but I don't really remember any songs.

Miguel: Yeah, there's a, what was it, “Hot 2 Nite?” I think that was the first single.

Christina: Yeah, I remember that title, but I can't think of the song.

Miguel: Yeah, and there was one more on it, and obviously I don't remember what it is off the top of my head, that I liked on it. But as a whole, I wasn't really a fan of it. And like I said, it just seems like they were trying to squeeze a bad boy sound into New Edition, rather than just letting New Edition do what they do. Like there was only two or three songs produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and it was all like The Hitmen.

Christina: Wasn't there some Diddy production on Home Again?

Miguel: Just one, though.

Christina: Okay, because I was going to say, I mean, if he worked with them before, he should have stuck with that.

Miguel: This one is like Mario Winans, Stevie J, Ryan Leslie. So it was really Bad Boy heavy with that type of style versus, like I said, just letting them do what they do. So yeah, that era of New Edition, I wasn't really too into. I had moved on myself, so I really wasn't into that. So I was continuing to go back to the older stuff.

With their discography and everything that they've given to the music, you can see their influence from the early days, like we mentioned earlier with New Kids On The Block, all the way through direct descendants like Boyz II Men. You have others like N'Sync, Dru Hill, 112, even down to groups like One Direction and now BTS. They've continued the five members, each one has a specific style, and we're going to sprinkle in a little hip hop as well.

Christina: Well, back to that AMA performance, you had BTS trying to learn the choreography live. So talk about direct influence.

Miguel: They're like, we're not going to get this opportunity again. They're right in front of us. We are going to learn this shit and then perform it tomorrow night.

Christina: Of course, the iconic, “If It Isn't Love” choreography, was the part they were like really going in.

Miguel: Of course.

Christina: I think that, well, first of all, the direct influence, of course, as we already mentioned, was New Kids On The Block. And then I feel like everything kind of splintered from those two. So the boy bands like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys come from New Kids On The Block. And then you have Boyz II Men, which directly came from New Edition or Michael Bivins specifically. And the fact that they called themselves Boyz II Men because of New Edition's song, “Boys to Men,” like talk about direct descendant.

So Boyz II Men sort of became the next generation. And then you had Jodeci, which was the new type of boy band that's not as clearly a direct influence, but they are because they're still a boy band. And so now everyone's after that stemmed from Boyz II Men and Jodeci, or they were either one or the other or a combination of the two.

Miguel: Yeah. And with Jodeci, you can see it in their style. They're four Bobby Browns, basically.

Christina: I think it's not as obvious because they had already integrated that hip hop style. But yeah, four Bobby Browns kind of make more sense. But I'm sure they listened to New Edition. I'm sure they were inspired by them. But I think it's not their music is not as obvious, but they're definitely a descendant, though.

Miguel: Yeah, musically, you don't really see much. But in terms of style, that's definitely the Bobby Brown influence. We're going to show up with shades and black leather and boots and just be loud and boisterous. That's definitely Bobby Brown.

Christina: Yeah. I think the thing that started to fade away though was how important the dancing was. These later groups, they would dance and stuff like 112 and Dru Hill. And Jodeci, aside from that one video, they weren't much of dancers. TLC definitely gave you some choreography, but I feel like it started to fade in that generation and then after too.

One of the articles I was reading that had a bunch of different interviews with everyone in the group, as well as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis when they were talking about the making of Heart Break, they were just saying how when they wrote the songs, they wrote it with dance breaks in mind. So like they created the music to make sure that you can have choreography as well. And yeah, I just feel like that''s--I feel like it's missing now, even though people do choreo, I don't know how to describe it. But yeah, I just I don't think it's the same.

Miguel: Well, that's because there are any groups outside of like BTS and these K-pop groups.

Christina: Maybe that's it. I mean, they have background dancers, though, but I guess it's not the same as like having an actual group dancing together.

Miguel: Yeah, like you don't have the core.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Making moves together. You can have a singer with five background dancers, but they're not going to rap for you. They're not going to sing for you. They're just literally there to take up space.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Whereas with these groups, they all perform together and they moved as a unit.

Christina: Right. And then you'd have like your favorites and stuff. Like you don't know these background dancers anymore. That's why initially when K-pop started to become so like popular in the mainstream, I'm not gonna lie, I was surprised. I was like, they don't even sing in English and they have this huge English speaking fan base. And I think it's just the lack of boy bands and girl groups. So people like that. Whether they can understand what they're saying or not, they just like the groups.

Miguel: Yeah, because outside of One Direction from a few years ago, I can't think of a big girl group or boy band.

Christina: Yeah. And One Direction has been not together for a while.

Miguel: So even before them, I can't think of any big groups like that that were dancing, singing, have four or five individuals.

Christina: There's not even any trios. Migos?

Miguel: Well, singing and dancing.

Christina: Well, what's his name, on his own, does a lot of dancing.

Miguel: Quavo? Quavo[4] is slowly turning into my favorite rapper.

Christina: He's slowly turning into Michael Jackson.

Miguel: That too.

Christina: But yeah, like there's not even like trios, much less four or five people.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So I mean, I guess that's where K-pop slid in. It was like, we'll do it.

Miguel: Yeah, because like I mentioned earlier, that type of stuff is perfect for a young preteen and teen fan base. And that's always been like the focus for young people is girl groups and boy bands. And I'm sure the streets were just starving for it. And I don't care if it's not in English. They're giving me some choreography.

Christina: Yep.

Miguel: And some fashion and I'm all in.

Christina: Some fashion and you know, you got to have the different personalities.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: This one's the shy one. This one's the rugged one.

Miguel: He's the bad boy.

Christina: Yeah, he's the bad boy. This one's the pretty one.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: This one's the heartthrob.

Miguel: So there's not much of that anymore.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Well, we mentioned that we got to see New Edition a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas. They had a residency at the Wynn. It was a good show. They ran through their entire history basically. Like I said, there would be times when Bobby would leave the stage because he's like, I wasn't with y'all then so I'm leaving. And they each had their moment to shine and did their own solo sets. They did some covers, which was good.

Christina: To pay homage to the groups that came before them.

Miguel: Yeah. So it was a really good show. And if you get a chance to see it, they added some more dates in July and November. So go check it out if you haven't seen it yet. It's really worth it. It's worth the price of admission.

Christina: Highly recommended. Well, you had to really enjoy it since they're like your favorite boy band.

Miguel: I was trying to figure out a way for us to go see them again when we're in Vegas in July, but they're performing the same night that we're going to see Jodeci, so I can't double dip.

Christina: So, okay, I'm really upset with them, though, because when they announced their residency, we rushed to buy tickets. And then like, what, two weeks later or so, Jodeci announces their residency.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: And it was going to start like a week after or so. And we're like, OK, we can't stay in Vegas that long. So we'll go see Jodeci in July. And then we get to Vegas to see New Edition. And they announced that they're adding dates in July, which is when we'll be the exact same night we'll be there to see Jodeci. And now that we bought our flights, we can't extend it a couple days to see them again. I'm a little bit upset with them.

Miguel: Yeah, I definitely wanted to see the show a second time.

Christina: But yeah, I would be open to seeing it a second time for sure. But the logistics doesn't seem to be working out for us.

Miguel: Yeah, I'm sure they'll circle back at some place in the summer.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Closer to us and we can go see them again. Because they're not coming to Toronto.

Christina: They might.

Miguel: They haven't in the past few years, so I don't see it.

Christina: We're going to end up at a Tom Joyner cruise or Essence Fest or something.

Miguel: Well, they are on the Tom Joyner cruise this year. I saw it when I was on their website earlier today.

Christina: You're not ready to do a Tom Joyner cruise.

Miguel: I'm not ready for that yet.

Christina: I mean, you're no spring chicken.

Miguel: So what are you saying?

Christina: I think we're old enough to do Tom Joyner cruises.

Miguel: No, we're not in that demographic yet.

Christina: How are we not if the people we like are performing at these cruises?

Miguel: But they're older than us.

Christina: True, true.

Miguel: We're not quite in that demographic yet. I'll do the Rock The Bells cruise. I want to do that. I needed to see it go through the first year and go off without a hitch before I give them some money.

Christina: After doing Made In America the first year, we got to let these new things run at least one year before we try them out.

Miguel: Yeah, but it looks like the Rock The Bells cruise was pretty good last year. So I might look into us doing it this year.

Alright, so let's wrap this up with you giving us your top five New Edition songs from their discography. And that's any of their solo stuff or the group stuff.

Christina: Well, I thought this was cruel and unusual punishment.

Miguel: Of course.

Christina: When you gave me the outline and I was reading it, and I was like, okay, your top five NE songs. Cool. I could do that. And then I'm like, from their full discography, solo or group, how am I supposed to do that? So what I did was I just made a list of all the songs, like my top two, three songs of their albums, solo, together, yada yada. And from there, I was like, just quick pick. So I ended up and I didn't do this on purpose. I ended up picking one any song and then one song from each solo.

Miguel: I actually did that on purpose, but continue.

Christina: I kind of did, but not really, if that makes sense. Well, anyways, it's how it ended up. So my top five, “Can You Stand The Rain.” Have to. “Poison” and “Sensitivity.” I feel like these are very like, duh, of course, right? But hey, these are hits for a reason.

Miguel: They are.

Christina: “Rub You The Right Way.” And Bobby actually was really hard for me because, you know, I told you because this was the height of like my interest in music and dancing. But I was like, OK, which song do I like? Because there are some songs that I like because of the visuals. OK, so for Bobby, I went with “Every Little Step.”

Miguel: All right. That's a solid list. And I did the same thing because there's way too many songs that I love to choose just five. So what I did is I figured I was going to get a song from each one that I think is my favorite. And that's kind of me circumventing the rules a little bit.

Christina: Your own rules.

Miguel: Yeah, the rules that I made up. But my top five New Edition songs from their full discography, solo or group are “When I Need Somebody,” Ralph Tresvant.

Christina: I didn't know you liked that song that much.

Miguel: So I'm going with that one. I'm going with BBD. “I Thought It Was Me” by Bell Biv Devoe.

Christina: I have that on my list.

Miguel: All right. And for Johnny Gill, I'm going with “Giving My All To You.”

Christina: I have that on my list and in brackets, I put, I like this better than “My, My, My” for slow songs, even though that's kind of like Johnny's go to. But I much prefer “Giving My All To You.”

Miguel: And for Bobby, I'm going with “Every Little Step” just like you did.

Christina: OK.

Miguel: And as a collective, it seems like I should pick “If It Isn't Love.”

Christina: Yes, since you love that.

Miguel: I do. I still know the choreography.

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: But I'm going to choose “Oh Yeah, It Feels So Good” because that's probably my favorite song of theirs that has all of them on it. So I'm going with that one.

Christina: The one that I like with all of them on it, I'm pretty sure all of them are on it actually. Now I'm not sure. Well, I wrote this in my notes for the Home Again album. I really like “Try Again.”

Miguel: OK.

Christina: Because you get the New Edition vibe, but it was produced by Chucky Thompson and Diddy. So you know that's like--are we going to have to start calling Diddy "He Who Will Not Be Named" as well? Like, is he getting there? Because now I feel bad every time. I'm like, oh my God, I love the Diddy produced songs. But, ah, just, oh. Anyway, because it has that early 90s, mid 90s, like Bad Boy sound that I like.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: But it's New Edition.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: So I really like that one, too. But I had to go with “Can You Stand The Rain.” Even though Bobby's not on it.

Miguel: Well, that's why I had to choose one that had all six of them on it. And like I mentioned earlier, that song is very Bobby heavy, too. He's all over those ad libs. He is runnning his mouth. Like, I've been waiting years to get back in with these guys. And I want them to know how great I've been since I've been gone.

Christina: Well, the funny thing is, is even when he was, quote unquote, kicked out or left, he was always around.

Miguel: Yeah, he was always there.

Christina: Always doing stuff together on each other's albums or just like hanging out. Because I was watching an interview with them--oh, this is actually something different, but just with all of their like issues and stuff. But they were always like still together. So I guess it's more of like, you know, like brothers where you hate each other, but you love each other.

Miguel: You can tell because they've been friends since they were like six, seven, eight years old. They're genuinely brothers.

Christina: Yeah, because even Johnny coming in later, because what I was going to say was in an interview I saw with him, he was talking about like, you know, with Ralph not knowing that he was going to be part of the group. So people assume that they just hate each other. Right. He's like, that's not true. Me and Ralph were hanging out when I was working on my album and this and that.

And he's like, after we kind of got over the shock of not knowing what was going on, he's like, we didn't have any beef. It was just we didn't know what was happening. He's like, we used to hang out all the time.

Miguel: Yeah, you can tell that they have a brotherly relationship and they probably can't stand being around each other a lot of times, but they love each other and is not going to let anybody from the outside say anything bad about.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: All right. So that's all I have. I'm going to ask you again, is there anything you would like to add before we wrap this all up?

Christina: Not really. Just go to our YouTube and watch the videos. See what the show was like if you don't get a chance to see yourself. But if you do, you should go.

Miguel: Yep. Do it.

Christina: Totally worth it. I was literally looking at tickets today and I was trying to figure out if there's a way we could work it, if it was worth extending our flight. But I don't think it's going to work out for us this time. Tickets are kind of pricey.

Miguel: Oh, well. on that note, thank you again for listening to They Reminisce Over You. We try to do this every two weeks, so make sure to subscribe if you haven't already and come back and listen for more in a couple of weeks.

If you want, you can go to our website and look at some links and transcripts for this episode. We're also going to post a playlist there of our favorite New Edition songs, so it'll have the ones we mentioned here plus some others. It might not have “Jealous Girl” on it. It might have Jealous Girl on it.

Christina: Why wouldn't it have “Jealous Girl” on it?

Miguel: I don't know. I'm just trying to build some suspense and get people to come listen to it. But the playlist will be there. So go check that out. If you want to buy some merch, we have a store called Nuthin' But a Tee Thang. Get yourself some caps, t-shirts, hoodies, all that good stuff at, T-E-E-T-H-A-N-G .com.

We have a monthly newsletter. It's free 99. So subscribe for that.

Christina: So if it's free 99, you never really understood that because it doesn't make it 99 cents though?

Miguel: No, because it's free 99. If it was a dollar 99, it would be a dollar 99.

Christina: So the free negates the 99?

Miguel: Exactly.

Christina: Okay, free 99.

Miguel: Free 99 newsletter that comes out once a month. You can sign up at our website at I don't have anything else to say right now because I probably forget all the rest of the stuff that I usually say and I'm hungry.

Christina: I think you said it all.

Miguel: So we're going to end this here and that's that on that.

Christina: That's that on that.

Miguel: See you in a couple of weeks. Bye.

Christina: Bye.