New Edition: The group that never got the respect that they deserved.
The music industry. I don't think there is a more passive-aggressive entertainment source in the world than the music industry. All I want is to listen to music and have my respect and money go to the artists who make the music. Is that so wrong? Why are we so quick to find the next great artist when we have brilliance already? This is not to say that we should turn a blind eye to talent. We seem to think that once an artist has used up all their time in the spotlight, they are not expected to return. And it's surprising if they succeed. The problem has become the "tear down" affect. We like to boost a person up and then pop that bubble when they are at their peak. So is there a fix for this trend? I don't know, hopefully by the end of this story we will have figured it out.
Our story begins in Boston Massachusetts, a place I have never been to, but hope to visit someday. Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown, Ron Devoe, and Michael Bivins were the original five members of New Edition. They had their first hit "Candy Girl" in 1983. If you have a parent who is 35-45 and you don't know who New Edition is, shame on your parents for not exposing you to what real music sounds like. These five guys would go on to score many more hits charting singles 27 more times and Johnny Gill replacing Brown in 1987. But why not more music? How can such talent be held back from giving God's gift to the world? Record labels! Cue music....Darth Vader's Theme.......................................and we're back. Ok, so I want to you to listen to me now, not just read, but hear what I am going to say. New Edition got off the bus in front of the same apartment complex, after promoting their new single that hit number one on the music charts, and were each handed checks for $1.87. The decimal is in the right place.
The record labels always are in control. There is not one artist or group that starts out in control unless they go the indie route. And then you have to fight for distribution. It's just a mess, but let me get back on point. As a new artist you can't decide how much is spent on mastering, production, music video costs. You are at the whim of the label, which means your money is being spent my someone else. And if the label usually works with the most expensive companies, that's the way it is. And then you have the managers and staff, who basically ride the waves of success that the artist(s) are making. Basically what I am saying here is when you sign a contract as a young artist there is no pre-nup. You have to fulfill your obligation or you don't get paid. New Edition had to jump through many legal hoops through their careers to try to retain fair value for their services. They are a true story as to why it is so important for the buying public to support the artists that deserve it. Make sure you go see them in concert. Like their pages on social media. Show them that even if they were on an independent label, they would still have the support to release new music and have it be worth their time.
Should New Edition be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
New Edition arrived at a time when there was a definite need for them. The Jackson 5 handed the keys to the "boy band" car and they handled that car with amazing precision. They were all about hard work, and showing the crowd that they were getting the best they had. There are so many artists and groups that reside beneath the New Edition family tree. Obviously the first one, besides the solo efforts, is Bell Biv Devoe. New Kids on The Block, Boyz II Men, LSG, and many of the more recent boy bands have branches on the New Edition tree. So with all this success and influence, why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Why is there no star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
The members of New Edition to this day have not been compensated fairly for their music. Up to and including their last album "One Love" in 2004, their deals have not given them what they deserve. When the key to lock combo of New Edition and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis get together it's magic. Can you believe that one of their collaborations was left off an album over money? That's not what music is about! Music is about a connection between an artist and a listener. It's about the stamp that a specific song can have on a memory. You remember the song that was playing during your first slow dance. Well mine was "Can you stand the rain". That connection can be profound. I went to an N.E. concert in 1997. When they started singing "I'm still in love with you" I just knew in my heart I was going to see something special. Towards the end of the song I turned to my friend and said "I think Ralph and Ricky are going to do something special here". Sure enough they went on what seemed like a tow to three minute run of pure heaven. If you have experienced that moment when the song went precisely where you wanted it to go, you know what that feeling is.
So what is the point to all of this? Well, I went to a New Edition concert a few weeks ago and got the same feeling I did when I was a kid in 1983. These older young men kept me on my feet for two hours while singing and dancing with the same passion they had when they first started. The determination and effort cannot be overlooked. We expect perfection as fans, not realizing what it takes to perform. Then, once we get as close to perfection as we can get, we find all the faults so that we can move on without feeling bad about discarding yet another musician. Are we fickle? Sure. But it has become so easy to find those faults with cameras on phones, the Paparazzi and TMZ. Do we really want to know what type of soda Usher likes? Nah man, just sing.
Their story is easily accessible on the internet. It is a story I am sure many more groups have mirrored. Unfortunately it is likely to continue. When these talented individuals finally make it, we need to make sure they are commended for their contributions in the entertainment world. They need to know that the fan support is there to continue their craft and still make a good living. And last but not least, the consumers need to make sure that the labels are fairly compensating the artists so that they have the desire and opportunity to put out new music. In the past we recognized the best musicians as legends. Who are the legends from our era? For me New Edition and the whole N.E. crew are legends.