How New Kids On The Block Really Felt About Their Hated 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show


  • New Kids On The Block’s 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show was a disappointment and didn’t live up to the hype.
  • Donnie Wahlberg, a member of the band, expressed disappointment in the lackluster response to the performance.
  • The New Kids On The Block performance is considered one of the worst Super Bowl shows.

After The New Kids On The Block’s debut album came out in 1986, the band was on fire. Teenagers knew their names, listened to their music on repeat, and screamed when they saw them in concerts and at malls. Even now, there’s a lot to know about the members, from whether NKOTB are still friends and some of the lawsuits that the band was involved in.

Another thing that people should know about the ’80s and ’90s boy band? They sang at the 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show. They were the first band to perform during halftime, and it was a big deal. But even though this seemed like a dream come true, it ended up being a massive disappointment. Here’s the truth about how New Kids On The Block feels about this part of their musical history.

What Did New Kids On The Block Say About Their 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show?

The New Kids On The Block 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show was called “A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl” and featured the band singing “This One’s for the Children.” Since Disney produced the halftime show, a choir of children performed as well. The wildest thing about the whole performance? It didn’t actually air at halftime at all. Instead, ABC News had a segment on the Gulf War, and the show aired later on.

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Via: TheThings

While the band as a whole doesn’t seem to have commented on this performance, Donnie Wahlberg has talked about the Super Bowl show in various interviews. Although he appreciates the fact that the band was recognized in this way, he wrote an article for Playboy and explained that the band should be considered the first to perform at the Super Bowl. It sounds like he is disappointed in the lackluster response that the performance received.


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Wahlberg explained to Playboy:

“But that’s why most people don’t know of or acknowledge it as the first of its kind — you know, the grandfather of all these halftime performances: because they didn’t see it.”

He added:

“Michael Jackson gets credit for doing the first one. But I’m sure he was influenced by us doing it before… There’s always someone, especially in music, who has to go first and take all the hits so someone else can do it later.”

Donnie Wahlberg performing with New Kids On The Block
via Instar

Donnie Wahlberg also shared that since the 1991 Super Bowl happened during the Gulf War, he thought it made sense that a report by Peter Jenning was aired instead of the New Kids On The Block performance.

Which Singers And Bands Performed During The Super Bowl In The 1990s? (According to CBS Sports)

  • Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Gloria Estefan (1992)
  • Michael Jackson and kids (1993)
  • Naomi Judd, Wynonna Judd, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Clint Black (1994)
  • Arturo Sandoval, Patti LaBelle, Tony Bennett, the Miami Sound Machine (1995)
  • Diana Ross (1996)
  • ZZ Top, James Brown, James Belushi, John Goodman, Dan Akroyd (1997)
  • The Temptations, Martha Reeves, Queen Latifah, Smokey Robinson, Boyz II Men (1998)
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder (1999)


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As Wahlberg wrote in his piece for Playboy, “I’m sure a lot of our fans were upset. But it made me very happy. We all breathed a sigh of relief. And it felt appropriate… It felt more fitting that George Bush made a speech during halftime than this ‘Small World’ Disney thing.”

New Kids On The Block performing during a concert
Via: Instar

Wahlberg also explained that New Kids On The Block had mixed emotions. While they knew it was flattering, they didn’t want to be associated with a childlike theme. He said:

“we weren’t terrifically excited about it — mostly because of the Disney aspect. We were at a point where we’d seen enough dolls and cartoons and toys and merchandise and lunch boxes. We were trying to grow out of the kids stuff and become young men.”

In 2023, Donnie Wahlberg talked about the Super Bowl with JohnJay and Rich. He said, “I’m sure somebody at some point will do a documentary. Maybe we’ll do it.”

What Was The Response To The New Kids On The Block 1991 Halftime Show?

It’s interesting to think that the New Kids On The Block was the first band to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime because so many people don’t remember it. However, when people do talk about it, they share negative opinions.

New Kids On The Block “This One’s For The Children”

  • released in 1989
  • part of the “Merry, Merry Christmas” album

Today, the New Kids On The Block performance is considered one of the least interesting Super Bowl shows. The general feeling is that it was disappointing and didn’t live up to the hype. included it in a list of “The Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows Ever” and there are several other publications that did the same, including Rolling Stone, The Sporting News, and Bleacher Report.


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Several people discussed the New Kids On The Block 1991 Super Bowl Halftime Show in a thread in the SubReddit “Videos” and felt that it was odd. The combination of kids singing as part of a choir and the focus on the war rubbed some people the wrong way.

Via: Instar

Even though the performance might not have aired during the actual game, and even though people are mostly critical of it, the New Kids On The Block Super Bowl Halftime Show was still an important moment for the band. Although the other members don’t seem to have discussed it publicly, it seems like Donnie Wahlberg was speaking on behalf of the band when he said that they appreciated it but have some complicated feelings.

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