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Sneak attack Hanson post!

A mid-morning G-chat conversation:

me: i'm trying to write my blogulator post right now
me: but it's a bit difficult
Brigitte: why?
me: all I want to do is write a sneak attack post about how much i love hanson
me:
but i think chris and qualler would delete it and have me executed
Brigitte:
haha no they wouldn't
Brigitte: you should do that!

Well, okay then! If this post gets me in trouble, remember that Brigitte gave me permission.


I fucking love Hanson. I don't care if you think that makes me a teeny bopper straight out of 1997, a musical Philistine, or just simply an idiot. Because I can say, unequivocally, that if you think Hanson is a one-hit wonder, an untalented pre-packaged music industry bullshit band that fizzled once everybody got "MmmBop" out of their heads, or the punchline of a decade-old joke, you are wrong. You just are. Sorry! We're all wrong sometimes, and it's your turn.

In actuality, the boys of Hanson are brilliant musicians, for a number of reasons. First of all, they sing, play, and write all their own music, and they have since they were in the single digits. Their first major studio album, Middle of Nowhere, seemed cheesy on the surface, what with the videos of them running around on the beach in hand-me-down clothes and floppy hair reminiscent of basset hound ears, but it was amazing pop that belied great musical talent, and I can promise you that it still stands up ten years later. They recently rerecorded Middle of Nowhere live in the round, and "Yearbook" still literally gives me chills.

But when your star burns that brightly that quickly, and you want to grow as artists, fame tends to get fickle, as does the music industry, and Hanson's second album, This Time Around, suffered from the Mercury/Island Def Jam label merge (which is the tiny threat that ties this post back to books; the whole time I was watching the Hanson documentary, Strong Enough to Break, about their split from IDJ and how they established their own label, under which they release all their records now, I couldn't help but think about how that happens in publishing all the time, that companies merge, staff gets laid off or fired or moved, and books languish unloved and unmarketed, practically never to see the light of day).

It took them almost three years to put out their third album, Underneath, because while they wanted to showcase their growth as songwriters and musicians, IDJ basically wanted another "MmmBop". They wrote over 80 songs for IDJ A&R VP Jeff Fenster, most of which were rejected, worked with all his recommended producers after what they put together with the people they liked to work with was swept aside, and basically, with their Midwestern good-naturedness and all-around even-tempered approach to business, did everything they could to please the label before it became clear that they were being run around in circles.

How can you not admire three guys, not one of whom is over the age of twenty-five, making the difficult and potentially disasterous decision to split from their major label, head back to Tulsa and start one of their own? But they did it, and now it's two albums later, and Hanson is selling out venues. The obvious maturity of their latest album, The Walk, is undeniable, from the strength of "Great Divide" to the plaintive ballad "Go" to "Georgia", a love song that is one of my personal favorites. I'm not the only person who feels this way, but often when critics reviewed the last two albums they made some kind of punny reference to leaving "MmmBop" behind, but the truth is that the Hanson boys balk every time someone expects them to denounce the work they did ten years ago and insist they're "not that band anymore." Because they ARE that band, still, to this day; with every album they get closer and closer to expressing who they are through their music, but they have no desire to distance themselves from their earlier work.

And why should they? Hanson has never been about impressing people or projecting a certain image. It's always been about the music. It's always been about expressing themselves. They are the most sincere, guileless band in the history of music, and they always have been, and when that's your history there's nothing to be ashamed of. They're still writing about the same stuff--love, loss, uncertainty, fear, strength, and personal responsibility--they've just grown up, so they are lyrically more mature and musically more complex. They experiment, try to come at their work from the best angle possible (a good example of this was to record The Walk as if they were playing it for an audience, performing each song together with no fancy pants editing tricks to layer their voices over their instrumentation), and combine gratitude for their fan base with a monumental effort to improve the world.

I think Hanson are glad they're no longer astronomically famous. They're an indie band now, and I think that's what they were always meant to be, because it's about them and the music, not fame or fortune. I like them better this way, too. When people make fun of me for loving Hanson, I just smile and shake my head, feeling sorry for closed-minded music snobs who have no idea what they're missing.

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  1. Blogger Sean | 10:54 PM |  

    which one is your favorite?

  2. Anonymous OHD | 7:55 AM |  

    Haha I've actually given this some thought lately and decided Zac, the youngest, is my favorite. The other two annoy me a little as people.

  3. Blogger chris | 3:43 PM |  

    Haven't heard the latest record, but unfortunately it's quite impossible to enter the indie circle sincerely after making such an easy target footprint on the music industry. Same reason Darius Rucker or Lou Bega, regardless of how amazing they may become at writing/recording music, will never be accepted into indie-dom. We're snobs, elitists, and that's how indie kids work, like it or not. Regardless of whether or not they were unfairly dropped from a major (happens to indie bands ever day), they started with something ridiculously famous and money-generating and that's how they were able to glide along for so long making songs that were continuously rejected. It's been ingrained as a symbol and now it can't be taken away.

    I'm not saying it's fair, but it's just the way it is. Never gonna happen.

    Do you have fond memories of "Mmmbop"? I would say if you are, you're more likely to open up and become attached to new Hanson material, and if you don't, the opposite.

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