I’d be lying if I said a piece of me didn’t die when I found out that the rumor of Hanson coming for Dillo Day was just that: a rumor. They are on tour, they do have a relatively new album out — hell, they’re going to Bloomington, Ill., on April 18, why not Northwestern? Damn you rumor-starters for getting my hopes up.
What was it about Hanson, the boy-band of brothers from Tulsa, Okla., that made them international pop icons before most of the group members could drive? Hanson pretty much permeated every aspect of my life as a ten-year-old: influencing what I read (biographies), listened to (their albums, and bands they liked), played (there may have been three months of piano lessons to impress Taylor) and watched (seriously, I taped all of their talk show appearances) and I know I’m not the only one.
Before *NSYNC, before the Backstreet Boys and way before 98 Degrees, there was Hanson.Hanson had the power to make elementary-school girls scream and swoon with their boyish good looks, golden locks and infectious pop songs.Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson won the hearts of most, while annoying many, with “MMMbop,” causing listeners around the country to ask one another the million-dollar question: Just what the hell does “MMMbop” mean? While the answer may differ depending on whom you ask, the band’s first single solidified their status as grade-A hotties among the 9-to-14 crowd. And who really cares what it means when Taylor is the one belting out the words?Not me, that’s for sure.
The appeal of Hanson for me and other adoring fans, though, goes beyond just appearances. Sure they were cute (not Isaac) with long hair and innocent eyes that could pierce your soul, but they were, more importantly, young and talented. When their first album, Middle of Nowhere, dropped in 1997, Isaac was 16, Taylor was 14 and Zac just 11 years old, making them the same age as many of their admirers, which only made them seem more attainable.Girls everywhere (alright, myself included) convinced themselves that chasing a 14-year-old star was more likely to yield a real, fairy-tale romance than going after, say, an older Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, which was released the same year as Middle of Nowhere.Sadly, the fairy tale didn’t come true for some of us, though we’re not bitter at all.
Unlike lip-synching professionals such as Milli Vanilli and dear Ashlee Simpson, Hanson was and is a truly talented group.All you haters, stay with me.At ages when most kids are still sincerely convinced the other sex has cooties, these kids were not only playing their own instruments, but also contributing to writing songs about situations and emotions that in reality they likely knew little of.“MMMbop” may not be the most profound song ever written, but other songs discuss love, lust and loss.And I’ve tried playing drums — trust me when I say it is not the easiest thing to master. I’m pretty sure I hit myself in the face more often than hitting the actual drum, yet Zac managed to play along with his older brothers by the time he was 11. And I’m sorry, but they have good voices. There I said it. They used to be high-pitched, but somehow it worked.They sounded good, they played their instruments well, and they knew how to please their audience.Yes, they were fantastic.
Now older, wiser and married (and yes, even Isaac) with shorter hair, Hanson still seems to please the masses. Rather than aiming at a young audience, the three brothers grew up with their fans. Their voices have only improved with age, as has their abilities on their respective instruments.Now recording on their independent label, 3CG Records, which they started in 2003, Hanson is still experimenting with its sound.Take a listen to “Penny & Me” to hear the band’s new sound, it is delightful.
Hanson is now using their fourth studio album, “The Walk,” to raise awareness and funds for a good cause; the first single was available through iTunes with funds going to raise money for AIDS/HIV hospitals in South Africa, and fans are encouraged to walk a barefoot mile with the band before shows on their current tour around the country.Isaac, Taylor and Zac show no signs of slowing down or selling out, and if you ever need a taste of the old band, we’ll always have “MMMbop.”
And even though he got married when he was like 19 and okay, he has three kids, I’d just like to say: Taylor, I am totally available.Until then, I will play “Where’s The Love” on repeat and dream of what could have been.