Give It to You
August 30, 2017
Todd plays "Give It to You" on the piano
JORDAN KNIGHT - GIVE IT TO YOU
A one-hit wonder retrospective
Todd: So, did you know they’re bringing TRL back?
(Footage of Total Request Live)
Carson Daly: Hey, what's goin on, welcome to the show. For the next hour, giving you the top ten...
Todd (VO): Yes, MTV is bringing back Total Request Live. And that's a big deal to me because Total Request Live was my introduction to...
Todd: ...well, basically all popular music.
(Montage clips of DMX - "Party Up (Up in Here)", Korn - "Falling Away from Me", Eminem - "My Name Is")
Todd (VO): And for what it's worth, they played a whole lot of different kinds of music on that show.
Todd: But it's always gonna be associated with one genre.
(Footage of NSYNC on TRL)
NSYNC: Bye bye bye...
Todd (VO): Yes; late 90's teen-pop. I was there. And it was watching the endless "Backstreet Boys vs. NSYNC", "Britney vs. Christina" wars, where I began to form my own critical opinions. Opinions like: "Backstreet Boys suck" and "NSYNC are all gay". Todd: Look, we all gotta start somewhere.
(Clip of Backstreet Boys - I Want it That Way)
Todd (VO): So I wanted to revisit that genre, but when you're talking about a genre where all the fans are super-obsessive preteen girls, it's difficult to find an act who were only supported long enough to have one hit. Todd: But I found one; he is a one-hit wonder.... kind of.
(Video begins to play for "Give It To You")
Jordan Knight: You say it's been too long, since you...
Todd (VO): Yes, today we're gonna look at the solo career of one Jordan Knight. The big new pop idol of 1999. Todd: Except, he wasn't new.
(Brief introductory clip by Arsenio Hall from the 1989 MTV VMAs)
Arsenio Hall: ...time to get busy y'all: New Kids on the Block!
(Clip of New Kids on the Block performing "The Right Stuff", live at the Mayan Theatre L.A., in 1989)
Jordan Knight: Kick!
Todd (VO): Once upon a time, sure, he was the New Kid on the Block. Todd: Ahem.
(Video for "Give It To You")
Todd (VO): But by 1999, he was the older man in the neighborhood. Everyone thought his career was dead, and that he didn't have (Video for...) "The Right Stuff". But, (Video for...) "Step By Step", he proved that he was (Video for...) "Hangin' Tough". Todd: Shut up, you love it.
Jordan Knight: Baby you know I can give it to you
Todd (VO): And with his Top 10 single "Give It to You," Jordan Knight became the big musical comeback story of 1999. After (Video for "Smooth" by...) Santana. And (Video for "Believe" by...) Cher. And (Video for "Maria" by...) Blondie. And (Video for "What It's Like" by Everlast) the guy who rapped "Jump Around", and so on and so on.
Jordan Knight: Me holding you down in my bed
Todd (VO): It's the story all of show business loves: Remember that teen idol you had a crush on when you were a kid?
Todd: Well, now they're grown up and really hot.
Todd (VO): And you already invested so much time into worshiping them; why stop now? And yet, Jordan blew his second chance pretty bad, and the reign of the boybands would continue without interruption. What happened?
Todd: And, are we also gonna talk about Joey's solo career in this episode?
(Clip of Joey McIntyre - "Stay the Same")
Joey McIntyre: Stay the same
Todd: No, no we are not.
Jordan Knight: You know it, you know I give it to you
Before The Hit
(Video for New Kids on the Block - "You Got It (The Right Stuff)")
Todd (VO): You already know this part, right?
Todd: There was a boy band in the late '80s, early '90s...
Todd (VO): Joey, Jordan, Jonathan, Danny and Donnie... (Photo of...) the New Kids, on the Block.
Todd: They had a stupid dance.
(Live Performance of "The Right Stuff" at the Mayan Theatre plays again)
NKOTB: Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh
Todd (VO): Actually the "New Kids" were one of the first pop acts I was even really aware of, even though I wasn't, like...
Todd: ...technically allowed to listen to them because I was 6.
Todd (VO): But to the extent I was aware of them, I knew I didn't like them.
Todd: And that's an impression that lasted me into adulthood.
Todd (VO): Like this song ("The Right Stuff"), specifically, it's like in my bottom ten; it's a-, it's an all time worst.
Todd: But this episode has given me the opportunity to do a deep dive into the NKOTB discography and... I am pleasantly surprised.
(Video for "Tonight")
Todd (VO): They were a pretty eclectic group. One of their biggest hits was basically an ELO song.
NKOTB: ...buttons and the pins and the loud fanfares, Tonight...
Todd: They got this on the radio in...
Todd (VO): ...1990? The year of Vanilla Ice? Good for them, wow. (Video for "Step by Step" plays) So yeah; they were a much more interesting group than I realized. For the most part, their good stuff was actually pretty good. And their bad stuff...
Todd: ...was hilarious. So rather than summarize their biography I think I'll just share the highlights.
1. (Footage from the TV special, "NKOTB: No More Games Live!" plays, where the band is about to perform "Step by Step")
Jordan Knight: Right now, I wanna get funky!
2. (Footage of the band performing "Funky, Funky Xmas" on Arsenio Hall, 1990)
NKOTB: Have a funky, funky Christmas
Jordan: Funky Christmas, and a funky new year, I swear
3. (Music video for "Games" begins)
Donnie Wahlberg: It's about being smart, you suckeeeerrrrrrrr!
4. (More footage from "No More Games Live!" plays, this time showing a performance of "Baby, I Believe in You", where Jordan is busting out some MJ-style moves on stage)
5. (Brief clip of the music video for "Hangin' Tough")
6. (Music video for "This One's for the Children" plays)
Jordan: Many people are happy, and many people are sad
7. (Live footage of "My Favourite Girl" plays, taken from a 1991 MTV interview with Jordan Knight)
Jordan: You make my heart skip a beat!
8. (The ending of the "Games" music video plays)
Todd (VO): (Sighs with delight) Oh, that's wonderful.
Todd: Anyway, this was before my time so I never, really learned who was who in the band. I knew...
Todd (VO): ... (photo of...) Danny, was the one no one liked, (photo of...) Donnie was the one from (poster for...) Saw II,...
Todd: ...and that's about it.
(Footage plays of a 1991 MTV interview featuring Jordan Knight)
Todd (VO): But apparently, Jordan was the frontman.
John Norris: ...only one New Kid, handles the majority of lead vocals. And only one, is most often mentioned, as having great potential as a solo artist.
Todd (VO): Jordan was the one pegged for stardom. Why? Todd: Because he had that amazing falsetto obviously.
(Music Video plays for "I'll Be Loving You Forever")
Jordan: I'll be loving you forever...
Todd (VO): Falsetto singing is um... it's one of those things where if it's only like... Todd: ...98% good, it sounds terrible. And Jordan...
NKOTB: I'll be loving you...
Jordan: Loving yooooooouuuuu...
Todd: Yeah a good solid 98% is right where Jordan's at, I think.
(Music Video plays for "Dirty Dawg")
Todd (VO): Well anyway, New Kids released their final album in 1993, which was not a great time for teen pop.
Jordan: Dirty Dawg.
Jordan: Dirty Dawg.
Todd (VO): Granted, it would probably never be a good time for this. So unsurprisingly, the band broke up.
Todd: One would expect Jordan to try out for a solo career right away, but...
Todd (VO): ... (photo of Jordan in the mid-90's) he was smart enough to lie low until the tides turned...
Todd: ...and America was ready for some bubblegum pop again.
(1994: Green Day - "Longview")
Todd (VO): No.
(1995: Coolio - "Gangsta's Paradise")
Todd (VO): No.
(1996: Alanis Morissette - "Ironic")
Todd (VO): No.
(1997: Hanson - "MMMBop")
Todd (VO): Getting there.
(1998: Backstreet Boys - "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)")
Todd (VO): Okay just make sure it's not a fluke.
(1999: Backstreet Boys - "I Want It That Way")
AJ: Tell me why
BSB: Ain't nothin'....
Todd (VO): OK, yes, yes,...
Todd: ...let's go.
The Big Hit
(Video begins for "Give It To You")
Todd: Look I'm not gonna tell you that "Give It to You" is the most memorable song of the late 90's or anything.
Todd (VO): In fact, I don't think I've heard it even a single time this millennium. But it does have one thing I don't think (Photo of...) 98 Degrees ever had.
Todd: It starts SO weird.
The song's "Waltz" introduction is played in it's entirety
Todd: Yes I believe that this is the only circus music-themed pop song of the late 90s. Todd (VO): And it's not just the intro; the carnival theme comes back. A lot.
Jordan Knight: It's creepin' around in your head.
Todd: The song doesn't have anything to do with circuses, or clowns, or carnivals.
Jordan: Anyone can make you sweat.
Todd (VO): Uh, they got some amusement park rides in the background... Todd: ...that's eh, you know that's about it.
Jordan: Baby you know I can give it to you
I Can't deny, I'd do it right
Todd (VO): So 8 years after New Kids had their last hit, Jordan was back. Like I said, he had to wait til the time was right, but 8 years is a long, long time to be out of the spotlight.
Todd: But Jordan managed a huge get; he scored...
Todd (VO): ...(Photo of...) Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as his producers. (Music Video for "Control" by Janet Jackson) Best known for writing, producing all of Janet Jackson's early stuff, (Video for "All For You" by Janet Jackson) and later stuff...
Todd: ...like literally; all of her stuff is them...
Todd (VO): ...(Video for Boyz II Men - "On Bended Knee") plus a bunch of hits for other people. Most people associate them with (Video for Usher - "U Remind Me") their Janet stuff but, they age into the late 90's pretty well.
Todd: I mean, I initially took this for a Timbaland beat.
Jordan: I'm the place to be, and...
Todd (VO): I mean it's not Timbaland, but you can hear it right? And Jordan, you know he put those extra years to good use. (Video for "Tearing Up my Heart" by NSYNC) The boy bands... like it's...it's in their name; the-they're boy bands, they're boys, they're kids. Todd: Jordan, was not a new kid anymore and that's the way he plays it.
Jordan: You say I turn you on
Todd (VO): I mean what really strikes me is that this is so much more risqué than his peers. Todd: Do you remember when NSYNC tried to claim they were "dirty pop"?
(Music video for NSYNC - "Pop")
Justin Timberlake: Dirty, dirty, dirty...
Todd (VO): What horseshit was that?! Like, not one of their songs would force a single edit on Kidz Bop! Weren't remotely dirty. Among boys... Todd: ...Jordan was a man.
Jordan: Just let you know when I'll give it to you
Show me where, I'll taste you there
Todd: OK maybe "man" is overstating it...
Todd (VO): ...but at the very least he wasn't as innocent as the boy banders who, who never got any more suggestive than (Video for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by Backstreet Boys) "rock your body", I mean "rock your body"; that could mean anything, it could,...
Todd: ...could mean dancing, it could mean they're gonna...
Todd (VO): ... (cartoon of children on the swing) push you on the swing set.
Todd: Jordan is not that ambiguous.
Jordan: Your body needs a man like me
Todd (VO): None of that G-rated stuff for little kids; Jordan's pushing it all the way up,... Todd: ...to PG-13!
Jordan: I don't care who leads
Todd (VO): Yeah, he's kind of boy band, but he's also got like more in common with the R&B stuff like Usher. And you can see how this kind of sound and not Max Martin pop was gonna be the future of popular music. Todd: This is the sound that all the other teeny boppers jumped on when they wanted to become adults.
(Video for "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake)
Justin Timberlake: Now there's just no chance (No chance), for you and me (You and me),
There'll never be...
Todd (VO): I wouldn't be surprised if Justin Timberlake took "Give It to You" as a model for his own solo career. And from him, you can make a straight line to (Video for "Boyfriend" by...) Justin Bieber, (Video for "Lost Without U" by...) Robin Thicke... especially Robin Thicke actually.
Jordan: Anyone can make you sweat, but I, can keep you wet
Todd (VO): Jordan straight up sounds like Robin Thicke. Which, shouldn't be a surprise because Robin Thicke (Screen-shot of the song's Wikipedia entry, where Robin Thicke's name (circled) is shown to be listed under "Songwriter(s)") God-damn wrote the thing!
Todd: Look at this: here's a picture...
Todd (VO): ...(Said photo is shown...) of Jordan in the studio with 20 year-old nobody Robin Thicke. Managing to look (close up of Robin's face) even skeevier than he does now as a grown man. (Back to the "Give It to You" video) Yes, this song may have brought Jordan Knight back. But this song was the REAL launching pad for one young, unknown co-writer and studio engineer (Video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines") who would only grow more and more successful, (Screen-shot of a headline that says "Robin Thicke's 'Paula' Sells Just 530 First-Week Copies in U.K.") and then very much not successful. Hell, he even released a single called "Give It 2 U".
(Video for "Give It 2 U" by Robin Thicke)
Robin: ...give it to you, tonight
Todd (VO): Looks like in addition to ripping off Marvin Gaye, he can also plagiarize himself. Todd: And honestly, I prefer Robin's second "Give It to You" to Jordan's.
(Video for Jordan's "Give It to You" plays again)
Todd (VO): I mean uh, this, this Jordan Knight song, it, it doesn't really hold up to repeat listens. The hook is kind of weak. It's a little repetitive. There's a reason no one remembers this one.
Todd: But still, at the time, it had to be encouraging right?
Todd (VO): Jordan Knight is now a proven hit maker over the course of a decade at this point. He's established. He's hot shit...
Todd: ...how did ROBIN THICKE, of all people, capitalize on it, and he didn't?
The Failed Follow Up
Todd: Jordan Knight's second solo single is called...
Todd (VO): ...(Image of single cover for...) I Could Never Take the Place of Your Mmmmmm....
(Long tense pause, as Todd angrily looks at the single cover again twice, before he checks to see who wrote it. Yes, it's Prince.)
(Live Music Video for "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" by Prince plays)
Prince: It's only last June when her old man ran away
Todd (VO): OK uh, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" is, um, it's a Prince song.
Prince: I may be qualified, for a one night stand
I could never take the place, of your man
Todd (VO): It's, it's my favorite Prince song, which,...
Todd: ...which of course means it's one of my favorite songs by anyone.
Todd (VO): A-t-t-there are no end of good Prince covers but... this one, like... ah, no, no, it's perfect as it is! I, I don't want anyone to touch it; it means too much for me...
Todd: ...no good can come from this, leave it alone.
Background Singers: ...never take the place...
Prince: Never take the place of your man!
Todd (VO): (Sighs) God I miss Prince. Todd: OK, let's uh... yeah this is gonna suck, let's get this over with. Let's see Jordan Knight try his hand, at Prince.
(Video begins for Jordan's much more slower rendition of the song)
Jordan: Only last June when her old man ran...
Todd (VO): NO NO NO NO...
Todd: ...NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!
Todd (VO): He made it a ballad!! Of...
Todd: ...course he did!! (Todd just violently face-palms)
Jordan: But I could never take the place, of your man
Todd: Do I even have to explain what... what makes the original great,...
Todd (VO): ...is the contrast between the sadness of the lyrics and the absolute joy Prince sings it with. Making it drippy and sad...
Todd: ...misses the point!!
Jordan: And I can never take the place, of your man!
Todd (VO): This sucks! Why didn't you just name this single "I Could Never Take the Place of Prince"?! Todd: And for the record, I hate slow covers of "Dancing On My Own" too.
(Video plays for Calum Scott's version of "Dancing On My Own")
Calum Scott: I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her...
Todd (VO): All of them! Slowing it down doesn't make it more meaningful! It robs it of its power!
(Back to Jordan's video for "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man")
Jordan: ...place of your man
Todd (VO): Tssh, no wonder he didn't have a second hit. Terrible. Terrible, terrible, nope, not doing it, never mind. Todd: He did release one more single off that album. Called "Close My Eyes"; let's hear that one.
(Music Video for "Close My Eyes" begins)
Todd: HA! (Todd briefly covers his mouth) That's "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.
(Video for Kansas - "Dust in the Wind")
Steve Walsh: Dust in the wind
I close my...
(Back to the video for Jordan's song)
Jordan: ...eyes (close my eyes)
Todd (VO): See now, that's a good use of a classic song that's, I mean that's just funny.
Todd: I am amused. Never listening to it again or anything but, you know?
Did He Ever Do Anything Else?
Todd: Even after doing all the research I did for this episode, I still have ONE humongous question I wasn't able to answer: why did Jordan Knight take so long to release a second album?
Todd (VO): (Footage of Jordan performing with Debbie Gibson on Good Morning America in 2006) Jordan didn't release an album of new material until 2006. In that same amount of time, NSYNC released (Album cover for "Celebrity" is shown) two albums, (Image of Justin Timberlake on the cover of Rolling Stone) broke up, (Album cover for Justin's 2nd album, "Futuresex/Lovesounds" is shown) and then Justin released two solo albums. (Back to GMA performance) Meanwhile, all Jordan did during that same span (Image of the cast for "The Surreal Life" Season 3) was star in a season of The Surreal Life, (Album cover for "Jordan Knight performs New Kids on the Block - The Remix Album") and release a remix album.
Todd: And it wasn't even a real remix album! I-it was just Jordan, re-recording his old New Kids songs solo!
(Audio for Jordan's solo version of "Step by Step" plays)
Jordan: Step by step, oh baby
Really want you in my....
Todd: A remix album wouldn't have been a good idea in the first place, and he couldn't even do that right!
Todd (VO): (Album cover for "Love Songs") And by the time he finally did release that album in 2006, it was also mostly covers.
Todd: Was it just writer's block? I don't know; Jordan has...
Todd (VO): ... (Footage of Jordan Knight being interviewed on Daytime Ottawa) said things that kinda indicate he didn't really give his career much direction and left it to all his handlers, so that might be part of it.
Todd: Also, maybe he thought, well, you know I waited so long to release my first record maybe I can take my time. Why don't I go hang out with...
Todd (VO): ... (Another image of The Surreal Life's Season 3 cast) Dave Coulier and Flavor Flav in the meantime?
Todd: So he never recovered his momentum. But he's...
Todd (VO): ...(Music Video for Jordan's 2011 single, "Let's Go Higher") still releasing stuff today. Solo and with the New Kids once they finally reunited. (Video for NKOTBSB - "Don't Turn Off The Lights") And with NKOTBSB; the supergroup they've created with the Backstreet Boys. Oh and here's one of his solo tracks featuring Donnie.
(Music Video for Jordan Knight - "Stingy (ft. Donnie Wahlberg)"
Donnie: A careless whisper from a careless man
A new found love for the new found fan
Todd (VO): I'm sorry; I missed the New Kids, this is always gonna be the guy from (Photo of Donnie's character in...) Band of Brothers to me. Todd: I, (brief sigh) I will never see him as a musician.
(Video for "One More Time" by Nick & Knight)
Todd (VO): Oh-oh-oh and get this: not only was there the supergroup, there was also the super-duo. With Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. Todd: Called, no shit: (Album cover for...) Nick & Knight.
Nick Carter: Woo-hoo, woo-hoo, oh,
So let me get it, one more time...
Todd (VO): Nick Carter apparently developed Macklemore hair at one point. I don't like this song but... that's, uh, that's, that's beside the point; the point is... they were called Nick & Knight.
Did He Deserve Better?
Todd: I can't believe I'm gonna say this but yes, absolutely.
Video for "Give It to You"
Jordan Knight: Baby you know that I'll give it to you...
Todd (VO): I have developed a surprising fondness for the New Kids, and for Jordan's solo career also, maybe...
Todd: ...not for the actual music he released but he was a talented guy and he...
Todd (VO): ...he helped direct the path of pop music and he was talented enough that he could have, and should have, had a better career than he did. What happened; I don't know. I just want to say...
Todd: ...thank you Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Danny and Donnie, for bringing us so much joy and happiness. Minus "The Right Stuff", which still sounds like ass.
Jordan: Giving you everything of mine
Closing Tag Song: "Give It to You (10 Degrees Below "Steelpan Vocal" Remix)" by Jordan Knight
"Give It to You" is owned by Interscope Records.
This video is owned by me.
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!