The New Edition Story

Kayla Staff Image

Late last month, BET aired a 3 part miniseries about R&B super group, New Edition. The miniseries is called The New Edition Story. It aired over 3 nights and I was captivated each and every night. With each part, the miniseries got better and better. The miniseries follows the group during their humble beginnings in the Orchard Park section of Boston. The group was originally made up of Bobby Brown, who we learned started the group, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ralph Tresvant. Ronnie Devoe was added to the group after they got their deal with Maurice Starr. Devoe is the nephew to their first manager/choreographer Brooke Payne.

The movie was really great for people from my generation who didn’t grow up during the time period when New Edition was gaining their fame and only knew a little bit about them. In the movie, we learn about the group’s first record deal with Maurice Starr and how it fell through. Then, the group got another record deal with MCA through Gary Evans, which also ended badly because the group fired Gary Evans.

There was a lot of drama within the group, including kicking out Bobby Brown because he had a lot of issues offstage and those issues carried over onstage. The group also had problems with each other after Bobby left the group: Ralph wanted to go solo, so then they added singer Johnny Gill to the group, but then Ralph ended up staying with the group and they recorded their best-selling album, Heart Break, which was released in 1988.

The movie was very well put together and that is because all six members of the group were involved with the project along, with the group’s choreographer, Brooke Payne. He put the actors through a boot camp to get all of the choreography down so that they matched the original routines. I would say that they succeeded. The attention to detail in this movie is amazing because the reenactments of the videos for “If It Isn’t Love” and “You’re Not My Kind of Girl” are so similar to the actual videos that it’s uncanny.

It also helped that some of the actors playing the roles are also singers in real life, so they could pull off the vocals of the members that they portrayed. GRAMMY nominated singer Luke James played Johnny Gill, actor/singer Elijah Kelley played Ricky Bell, and actor/singer Algee Smith played Ralph Tresvant. The rest of the cast included Empire star Bryshere Gray as Michael Bivins, actor Keith Powers, who was also in the biopic Straight Outta Compton, played Ronnie Devoe and rounding out the cast is newcomer Woody McClain, who played Bobby Brown.

album cover for heartbreak

All three of my favorite moments from the miniseries take place during the Heart Break album era. My favorite scene is the recording session for “Can You Stand The Rain,” which is my favorite song from the group. The session came after Ralph and Johnny buried the hatchet. Ralph was upset that Johnny had joined the group because no one told him. Another one of my favorite scenes is when the group is on the Heart Break Tour and they perform the single “You’re Not My Kind of Girl” — the choreography and the vocals are just great. I had never heard this song before the movie and now it’s one of my favorites. Again, the similarities between the actual music video and the cast’s performance are unmatched. The cast really got the choreography down pat. The group’s reenactment of the “If It Isn’t Love” video rounds out my top three favorite moments of the series. The choreography and even the outfits are so much like the original video, that you almost feel like you’re watching the real thing. They did an excellent job. I assume that they had a lot of pressure to get this choreography down because it’s one of the group’s most memorable songs.

Granted, this movie wasn’t perfect because I wish that the movie would have spent more time focusing on when Ricky, Mike, and Ronnie branched out to form Bel Biv Devoe because they had a lot of success of their own. The movie only focused on the group’s biggest hit “Poison” which is a great song, but they had more hits besides that one like the ballad “When Will I See You Smile Again?”. Another issue is that they didn’t focus a lot on Bobby Brown’s solo career. If we’re being honest, Bobby had the most success out of all of the members when they did their solo ventures. The movie only focused on two songs from his massively successful album Don’t Be Cruel: “Every Little Step” and “My Prerogative”. These are both great songs, but Brown had other successful singles from this album alone. I wish that they would’ve reenacted Brown’s video for “Roni”.  My last issue is that the movie didn’t focus enough on the group’s reunion album Home Again, which had the hit single “Hit Me Off”.

Alas, if they would’ve added everything that I asked for the miniseries probably might have aired for four or five nights, instead of three. Overall, it was a great miniseries and I really enjoyed it. It helped me learn a lot more about the music industry and how important it is to READ YOUR CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. Also, the movie demonstrated how, despite all of the group’s turmoil, in the end they were able to maintain their brotherhood and friendship that initially brought them together. If it wasn’t for the turmoil, fans wouldn’t have gotten the great albums that were Heart Break and Don’t Be Cruel. Unfortunately, the only album of New Edition’s that we have in our catalog is Home Again but we have a couple of their greatest hits albums in our catalog which cover all of their other hits.

What is your favorite New Edition song? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

cover for Gold

Can You Stand The Rain?

Stream New Edition on Hoopla

Kayla works at Squirrel Hill as a Clerk, so when you come up to the customer services desk you might see her face! When she’s not at the library she enjoys reading, watching TV & listening to music. You might also find her at your local Starbucks, because she loves her Frappuccinos.

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