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NEW YORK (Billboard) - On the set of NBC's "Today" show, fans screeched the names of their favorites: "Joey!" "Jordan!" "Donnie!"
The New Kids on the Block are trying their hand at a comeback. So far, all signs say go. Sixty hours before the "Today" show concert even started, and despite the rain, fans started lining up outside the studios at Rockefeller Plaza, hoping to catch a glimpse of the former teen idols.
By the time the boy-band-turned-man-band took to a wet and slippery stage, the crowd had swelled to several thousand; mostly casually dressed women in their 20s and 30s who wept, sang along lustily and held doll-size versions of the band members aloft.
"The 'Today' show turned out to be a 90-minute infomercial for the band," says Jared Paul of AGP, the New Kids' manager.
In the wake of the May 16 taping, the band's single "Summertime" debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 before sliding to No. 83 the following week.
Obviously, a connection is still being made with fans of group -- five Boston boys who exploded in the late '80s and ruled the charts into the early '90s. "Hangin' Tough" was certified platinum eight times over, and "Step by Step" went triple platinum. The band also had three No. 1 singles, and its members' faces were slapped on everything from lunchboxes to sleeping bags. By 1994, however, the New Kids' star had waned, and after their "Face the Music" album sold poorly, shifting only 138,000 copies, the boys called it quits.
In the intervening 14 years, the five members dabbled in solo albums, acting and real estate, and kept in touch as friends.
The decision to make 2008 their comeback year was based mostly on timing, according to Jordan Knight. "We were finally in a place where we could create the space in our lives to make music and go back on the road," he says.
According to Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg was the driving force behind the initial reunion plans. "Donnie got us all together to work on a song called 'Click Click Click,' and something, well, clicked," he says. "We all started to get really excited."
The New Kids' currently untitled album will reach stores on September 8. Among the target demos are teen girls, who were mere infants when the band was first breaking.
The band will launch a North American tour on September 18 in Toronto, and initial dates are sold out, according to Live Nation senior VP of touring Brad Wavra.