January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Guy groups like the Backstreet Boys are chips off the old New Kids on the Block. So now that the times are hunk friendly again, what ever happened to the original New Kids’ promised solo careers? Five years after the last NKOTB album, two ex-Kids are belatedly reentering the pop arena.

Jordan Knight cut an album with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Interscope, but that company recently dropped the project; Knight visited L.A. this month to shop the record to other labels. That means the first out of the gate is Joey McIntyre, who’s sending the title track of his soon-to-be-released Columbia album Stay the Same to radio this week. Tracy Austin, music director for L.A.’s influential Top 40 station KIIS, has ”already gotten some curiosity calls” from New Kids fans who haven’t lost faith, though obviously ”he’ll be new to a lot of kids out there” (no pun intended). But when did he become ”Joey” again, after so many years as ”Joe” (as on his website, joemcintyre.com)? ”Once you get older, you gotta start calling yourself Joey to seem younger, right?” theorizes Austin. That’s called keeping ‘N Sync with your audience.

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