The musical event you know you all were waiting for is finally here:
the studio version of the single from the combined New Kids On The Block-Backstreet Boys supergroup, the awesomely named NKOTBSB, has arrived.
With hooky synth staccato pulses and washes, a singalong chorus reminiscent of co-writer Claude Kelly's "In Your Head" for Jason Derulo but with less "seriousface intensity," lyrics that semi-function both in regards to a personal relationship and their relationship with the audience, "Don't Turn Out The Lights" takes up right where you would hope. It's a catchy pop song somewhere between mid- and up-tempo that won't alienate old fans but fits right into our post-RedOne pop universe.
There have been hints in the past few years that the two all-grown-up boy bands are capable of delivering songs that are both modern and in keeping with their earlier work. New Kids' 2008 comeback album The Block contained a surprising amount of songs that were not just relevant but actually good. I'm particularly partial to "Twisted," a synthy update of the boy band sound which surprised yet again by being a great Timbaland song right at that point where Timbaland's 2006 excellence was starting to fade out into the mediocrity faced by so many writers who suddenly have the whole world beating down their door.
The Backstreet Boys would take a little longer to return to electronic pop (and, once again most importantly, good songs), but they finally got there with 2009's This Is Us. It was still too full of filler, but, besides the enjoyable "Bigger"'s direct lift from their "I Want It That Way" past, it featured a few songs that put the group where they needed to be. Brian Kennedy twisted the joyful, synthy sound he brought to Chris Brown's "Forever" into something slightly more aggressive on "Masquerade," while "Bye Bye Love" was a floaty up-tempo song that danced between airy and insistent.
"Don't Turn Off The Lights" reunites the Backstreet Boys with "Bye Bye Love"'s Claude Kelly, but its other co-writers are a surprise: Emanuel Kiriakou and Jess Cates. Both are capable of good work, but I'd felt in the past that what they contributed to the Backstreet Boys counted amongst their forgettable pop-rock songs. Emanuel's contribution to The Block, "2 in the Morning," was one of its misfires (the world will never recover from "gotta know if you're mad at me/before Grey's Anatomy"). Further, in the past few years he's specialized in making ballads--including some great ones (David Archuleta's "Crush," for example), but I never would have expected him to have gone in this direction. I'm thankful to be this pleasantly surprised, though.
It's rare that your past musical tastes, modern chart trends, and your current preferences align. When it happens, there's a certain kind of joy that occurs, the kind that has you wondering if maybe you really should buy tickets to that tour you previously brushed off as you press repeat for the tenth time in a row. And really, nothing is better than that.
NKOTBSB's single "Don't Turn Out The Lights" comes out April 5 in the U.S. You'll be able to buy it from Amazon here (digital). "Don't Turn Out The Lights" will be followed by an album May 24 composed mainly of the two groups' old hits (though I suspect if "Don't Turn Out The Lights" did well they'd have more reason to record more new original songs).
(Hat tip to Robbie for alerting me to this important event.)