Before One Direction and The Wanted, before N’Sync, the Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees, there was New Kids on the Block. The music between the aforementioned acts spans three decades, and New Kids singer Donnie Wahlberg is happy the genre has exhibited staying power.
“In some ways, [One Direction and The Wanted] validate us,” the NKOTB star told me via telephone. “And I think our reunion has validated us in many ways as well. The fans that grew up with us came back.”
Wahlberg speaks proudly on not just his group’s return, but also the new generation of fans that have new music to grow up with.
“I think there’s a place in society for all different types of music,” he explained. “I’m glad that the young bands are coming out now and doing well because I think it validates what we did 25 years ago.”
Generations will collide August 17 and 18 in Hershey, PA, when New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, The Wanted, Kelly Clarkson, LL Cool J, and more converge on Hersheypark Stadium for the inaugural “Summer Mixtape Fest.” While Wahlberg seemed happy to speak about the state of pop music, he channeled personal experiences when commenting on the groups specifically.
“My opinion or my advice to them is really inconsequential,” Wahlberg stated, before offering his reasoning. “Yunno, the same way when I was 19 and they interviewed everyone from The Monkeys to Donny Osmond to one of The Beatles to whomever to give advice or to ask what they thought of us. When I was 19, I didn’t care what any of those guys thought about me.”
At 42 years old, it is easy for Wahlberg to reminisce on the path his group helped blaze given New Kids’ past success. The trip down memory lane becomes a little sweeter though when you factor in the group’s current run, which has lasted since 2008 and brought the band to new destinations that none of them thought were possible.
“It’s a really humbling experience; it’s been an amazing journey,” Wahlberg, who will turn 43 on the first day of the festival, said. “[The reunion] sort of turned a 19-20 year-old sort of college age experience that I look back on fondly in to a very mature and different experience now.”
The experience continues to play out, as New Kids will tour across five continents in 2012.