Ha! Their name declared their unoriginality, and the presence of svengali Maurice Starr and beatmaker Arthur Baker gave heft to the claim. This was pure product. “Hey fellas, look who just dropped in,” lead singer Ralph Tresvant says at one point. “It's our producers, Maurice Starr and Michael Jonzun!” Well surprise, surprise. But in 1983, when seven-inch pop singles still fit your turntable, it was hard to argue with the derivative sugar of “Candy Girl” or chirpy funk of “Popcorn Love.” Punk was over, hip-hop was in a lull — why not something completely inauthentic, even if they sounded like the Jackson 5 without a Michael?
But in retrospect, here's another way to look at New Edition: of Maurice Starr's two manufactured boy bands, the various New Kids on the Block went on to be answers to trivia questions; the members of New Edition went on to be Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe and Tresvant — a window on an era, even if over time it has come to reveal too much.