New Edition’s 25 Greatest Songs
New Edition has quite a legacy.
The six-man R&B group has amassed a serious discography of hits. From their early days as an 80s bubblegum teen act through their evolution into polished 90s R&B hitmakers, New Edition's resume is packed with more highs than most of their 80s/90s R&B contemporaries.
Early in 2017, the story of the boys from Boston was told in BETs The New Edition Story mini-series this week, igniting a wave of nostalgia for old fans and generating interest for newcomers; and from the rise and fall of Bobby Brown, to the financial struggles of the group and the inner turmoil born of juggling six egos--there's a lot of story to tell.
But that story wouldn't be worth telling if not for the years of great music that the group has given fans. So to celebrate N.E., The Boombox decided to pick our favorite 25 songs from Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny.
These are New Edition's 25 greatest songs.
Arguably the most underrated song in their catalog. Originally released on the soundtrack to 1987s forgettable Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks Dragnet movie, this piano-driven ballad was the first New Edition release to feature the songwriting/production talents of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
N.E.'s first major label album has more great album cuts than many people realize. One of them is this catchy banger, produced by Michael Sembello and featuring Ralph's adolescent vocals over a percolating beat.
A lush ballad from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, this cut features Ricky doing his thing with some help from Ralph. This was the final single from Home Again, and by the time it was released, the group was so fractured that no one but Ricky appeared in the video.
The reunion of all six members of New Edition was a big deal in 1996, and the album closed with this ode to togetherness. With Bobby, Johnny, Ralph and Ricky all handling lead at various points, its one of the group's most "brotherly" moments on record.
Another dope single from Jam and Lewis, this midtempo track was built on an excellent sample of Edie Brickell's "What I Am" and features Ralph and Bobby resurrecting some of their old camaraderie.
One of the best ballads from N.E.'s bubblegum days, it's synth-heavy production and earnest lyrics are about as saccharine as 80s balladry gets; but the guys pull it off admirably.
With 1988s Heart Break, New Edition teamed with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and helped usher in the New Jack Swing era. One of the best uptempo cuts on the album, this is a high-energy track that almost demands you get up and move.
Another of the group's best ballads, this track still evokes the feel of junior high slow dances and talking late on the phone with your 8th grade crush.
Another New Jack banger, this was one of N.E.'s most explicitly-hip-hop influenced tracks from the Heart Break album. It was also a chance to shed their innocent image, as Ron and Biv talk about groupies and the guys drop rap references to both Rakim and Slick Rick.
One of N.E.'s first ballads and one of their more enduring. It's adorably earnest, a great chance for the then-very, very young group to prove they could emote with the grown-ups.
The remix was only a b-side, but it wound up getting a ton of airplay on R&B radio. Co-written by 112, with production from Stevie J and Sean "Puffy" Combs and featuring an early guest spot by Missy Elliott, it wound up being Bobby's centerpiece on the Home Again album.
How good is Heart Break? So good that many fans tend to forget that this gem is on it. A wonderful ballad that gets somewhat overshadowed by the bigger hits from the album, it's another winner from Jam & Lewis.
If you're of a certain age, you can't ever forget this song and the video that accompanied it. With it's infectious "Didja get it yet?" refrain and the Magic Johnson cameo in the video, it's an 80s bubblegum classic.
All six members get to do their thing on the first single from their reunion album, a track that's just edgy enough (a la Bobby and BBD) and just suave enough (a la Johnny and Ralph.) One of the best showcases for N.E. as a full group.
One of the group's best singles from the pre-Heart Break era, it was somewhat under-promoted as the group dealt with the departure of Bobby Brown. But it's a great track, and it hints at the more "adult" sound that N.E. would embrace in coming years.
This is all about Johnny Gill. The famously boisterous vocalist gets to show all of the tricks in his bag on this Jam & Lewis banger. The song wound up being an anthem for a group that fans had literally watched grow up in front of them.
Yes, it's another great ballad. Yes, it's also from Jam & Lewis. The second single from Home Again was the best kind of "grown & sexy" anthem that the now fully-grown New Edition could make. It was also a great showcase for Ralph and Ricky.
Another early ballad that is such an earnest kiddie tearjerker that you forgive how uber-sweet it can sound. They were just little guys here, but again, you can hear how young Ralph was already good at going for the heartstrings.
One of their most infectious singles was an ode to being with your girl over hanging with the fellas (a theme that N.E. songs dwell on quite a bit) and it's one of the best teenybopper tunes of its era.
A great, great song that perfectly highlighted how Johnny and Ralph's voices complement each other, this classic cut is also the epitome of mixed messages--as the guys sing about a girl that they "wish was mine" but...not really.
The song that started it all. Five little boys from Boston walked into a studio with Maurice Starr and cut a hit their very first time out. Sure, it's an obvious rip of "ABC" by the Jackson 5, but so what? It's still super catchy and just a fun song to sing along to.
Bobby Brown's first really big showcase, "Mr. Telephone Man" was one of N.E.'s most inescapable tunes and one of the more enduring of their early years. Written by Ray Parker, Jr., Brown's charisma really sells the song and it's not hard to see why he was itching for more of the spotlight.
80s bubblegum pop perfection, this is another ode to friends hating on their buddy for having a girlfriend. It's a great slice of teenybopper R&B, and the guys put all of their charm into the track. It's arguably the best single N.E. released pre-Johnny Gill.
Just a powerhouse ballad--a timeless song, in every sense of the word. This classic, yet another from the tandem of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, gave Johnny Gill his first breakout moment in New Edition, as he and Ralph share lead duties and Ricky helps carry the song to the stratosphere. Just an amazing performance of an amazing song.
The lyrics recall the group's innocent early days without sustaining the teenybopper feel, the production is industrial and edgy enough to stand alongside what Janet Jackson and Guy were doing at the time; and the video might be the most iconic New Edition ever made. Yes, "Can You Stand the Rain" is an undeniable classic. But when you talk about the quintessential NE song, the song that captures everything they were and are, this is that song.