One of the downsides of growing up as a fan of adult contemporary music in rural central Florida with neighbors who preferred country music was missing a great deal of the R&B of the 1980s. Some R&B acts, especially those who did a great job with singles, managed to pique my interest, and those acts that had ballads managed to hold my attention , but those acts which didn’t have a lot of songs on the radio, at least outside of urban radio, were acts that I might as well have not known exited. Such was the case with New Edition and most of its successor groups. The first time, in fact, that I can remember any of those acts is when I heard a reference to the Bobby Brown song “My Prerogative” in an episode of Family Matters and heard about him marrying Whitney Houston. What I am trying to say, in other words, is that I am not looking at these various acts with the point of view of someone who is nostalgic about the “New Jack Swing” sound they represented, although I do enjoy it nowadays, but rather from the point of view of someone looking to right a historical wrong in the fact that so many of these groups have been so utterly ignored. It is one thing to fail to recognize a group, or a family of acts, at the time because one happens to be caught up in different genres, but after the fact one has a responsibility to look back and see which acts have stood the test of time. New Edition and its successor acts have definitely stood the test of time.
The Influence Of New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe/Bobby Brown
The influence of New Edition is fairly easy to establish. After all, not only was the group successful enough to encourage a legion of imitators of their “new Jack swing” sound in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, but they were able to mount a successful comeback that helped trigger the mid 1990’s boy band craze, and were able to have two successor acts that were also immensely successful in Bell Biv Devoe and Bobby Brown, each of whom had their own record of success and influence. I am including all of these groups together in part because their style and music were so similar that my thinking is that they should be inducted together, and that rather than having to argue over which of these people deserves to be inducted twice that all of these groups/acts can be included together as part of one large family of musicians that performed in different combinations like Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, to give one example. Any group that can inspire multiple successful follow-up groups or acts demonstrates itself as an act worthy of recognition, something that New Edition should really not have diffulty in doing. Any time an act can blaze a trail for whole genres or subgenres of music it is worth recognizing on those grounds alone.
Why New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe/Bobby Brown Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It is pretty criminal how underrated these groups/acts are. Except from fans of 1980’s R&B, one does not think of New Edition as one of the more obvious snubs from the 1980’s, until one looks at their record of album sales. Although they did not have a lot of hit singles as a group (their top tens on the pop charts were the following songs “Cool It Now,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Hit Me Off,” and “I’m Still In Love With You”). On the other hand, their album success was immense and notable, with three double-platinum albums (“New Edition,” “Heart Break,” and 1996 comeback effort “Home Again,” one platinum album in 1985’s “All For Love,” and a gold disc in “Under The Blue Moon.” That is a record of success that most bands in the 1980s or today would be immensely envious of . After the hiatus of the group, Bell Biv Devoe had a quadrouple platinum debut album, a gold remix album that followed, and a gold follow up studio album and placed three top ten singles of its own, “Poison,” “Do Me!,” and “The Best Things In Life Are Free,” a collaboration with several acts including Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross as well as fellow former New Edition member Ralph Tresvant . This is a solid record of success on its own right, even more so when viewed as part of the larger legacy of New Edition. Bobby Brown’s own discography was a successful one, with a 7x platinum album in “Don’t Be Cruel,” a double platinum studio album in 1992’s Bobby, and a platinum compilation/remix album in “Dance…Ya Know It!” Bobby Brown’s success with singles is particularly notable, with two #1 hits (the aforementioned “My Prerogative” and a duet with Glenn Medieros in “The Girl Ain’t Worth It”) along with seven additional top 10 hits (“Don’t Be Cruel,” “Roni,” “Every Little Step,” “On Our Own,” “Rock Wit’cha,” “Humpin’ Around,” and “Good Enough,” not even including his hit duet with his then-wife Whitney Houston in “Something In Common .” Alone, he would be worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for his career, and as part of the larger New Edition family it is close to a literal no-brainer.
Why Isn’t New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe/Bobby Brown In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
I don’t know. The band always had a lot of internal turmoil, which meant that a group that only included six members had at least three acts worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that is even disregarding the notable solo efforts of the other group members, which were not quite up to the level of these three acts, or LSG (Lever Sweat Gil) made with R&B singers outside of the New Edition family. But that shouldn’t matter when one is looking at their influence as a whole. This is a group that had five successful albums in a row in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and helped pave the way not only for the immensely popular New Jack Swing within the black community but also paved the way for Boyz II Men and later white boy bands as well who sought to use their multi-vocalist charisma to sell millions and millions of albums. You can say what you want about both genres of music, but New Edition was influential in both realms, with a crossover influence that went well beyond the urban music of their day. It is hard to imagine what more they could have done given the fiery mix of personalities in the group.
Verdict: But them in: all six the members of New Edition throughout its run, in whatever labels Cleveland wants to put on it so long as it includes their group music. If it wanted to induct New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe and Bobby Brown separately, that would be fine too. I’m sure none of them or their fans would complain as long as their music is given the credit it deserves.
 See, for example: