I don't feel it's necessary to start with an intro as to who Hanson is but just in case...
The year was 1996. Three awkward young boys, with blond hair past their shoulders crashed onto the scene at the ages of 16 (Isaac), 13 (Taylor <3 swoon) and 11 (Zac). Their first and most widely known hit was MMMBop, but unbeknownst to many, it didn't end there.
One thing I will never do is refer to my love of Hanson as a 'guilty pleasure'... I have absolutely zero guilt or shame associated with my fangirling. Unfortunately most people cannot quite wrap their minds around a 26 year old enjoying these brothers – simply because they are under the impression that I'm just belting out 'MMMBop' all day.
While I won't deny the the fact that that particular song comes up on my playlist often, it's accompanied by the other HUNDREDS of songs the band has put out. On top of their 6 studio albums, they have demo albums, random singles and 12 members only albums.
Hanson never left. They are not “One Hit Wonders”.
In 2001, the brothers made a big decision to leave Def Jam Records and put all their earnings into starting their own self run independent label 3CG. Their previous label wanted to box-hole them into the pop feel-good music that they were currently known for, however MMMBop was originally written, primarily by Zac at the age of 6!
Clearly they had grown up and weren't interested in pumping out the same sound album after album.
After nearly 80 songs were turned down, they knew it was all or nothing; leave the industry or take a huge chance on themselves. I'm very happy they chose the latter! They even have a Documentary called Strong Enough to Break that follows them on the journey toward becoming independent artists.
Over the years, decades really, Hanson has put out so much for the fans, beyond just the music!
In May (this year, it's the weekend of the 20th), there is Hanson Day. It started as a one-off festival and has turned into an annual tradition in their hometown of Tulsa, OK, referred to as Middle of Everywhere.
Fans from all over gather for the 3 days event of live concerts, new material, collectively writing and recording a special track, meeting the guys, shopping for unique merchandise, touring the studio and their favorite spots around town, and going out to dinner with them at their favorite restaurants.
Every few years they release a new documentary filled with so much fun behind the scenes, as Taylor is also really into filmography.
They also have an annual special in Jamaica called Back to the Island. Tickets include hotel, food, drinks, activities, personal concerts, as well as different events hosted by each brother that showcases a bit of their personality (like Tie-dying with Zac, a DJ dance party with Taylor, Trivia game with Isaac). It's an all out 4 day paradise destination concert event of my DREAMS. (someday!!)
They are extremely active philantropists. One very notable example is this - Since 2007, Hanson has been partnered with TOMS shoes for Take The Walk campaign. Many of their tours now start with a one mile BAREFOOT walk through whatever town they are playing with, that anyone can join them on.
It's to raise awareness for impoverished areas of Africa. The idea is to “Walk a mile in someone else's shoes...or lack thereof”.
For each person on the walk they donate one dollar on your behalf, and you get to choose the cause it's supporting! Medical care, medical treatment, shoes, clean water, or education.
I joined the band, and 200+ others in the filthy streets of Downtown Vegas. Its was long, hot and somewhat painful – but the point is, at the end of that walk, I got to put my shoes back on, what a privilege that is!
I've only had the pleasure of seeing them live once, in 2012 for their Anthem Tour, but I certainly hope it won't be the last.
People can be so quick to laugh and judge, but they really have no idea what they are talking about. The Hanson of today is Rhythm and Blues, and smooth rock, with the occasional hint of a catchy pop tune.
Usually, when I am playing them and someone asks “Oh who is this?,” they are incredibly surprised.
“Hanson..? Like..MMMbop Hanson?”
The one in the same, only all grown up!
Another thing many people don't realize is that they are, and always have been, much more than pretty faces with nice voices.
They have never NOT written their own songs, for one thing. Whether it is one or a combination of the 3 of them, its always THEM.
Also, they play all their own instruments and have since there were just above toddler level.
They are beyond talented and I've been noticing them just recently being given the recognition they deserve. I've noticed quite an upswing on my Facebook feed, through outlets such as TODAY, MTV, and BUZZFEED, headlines expressing surprise that they are still around, or amazement that they sure have grown into their looks, haha!
The attention will hopefully pull their talents back into spotlight for people who've lost track of them. While they may not be considered mainstream anymore, they have quite the loyal following. They are doing just fine for themselves on the Independent Charts.
As a fan, all I ask is that you strip away everything you think you know based on a song from 20 years ago and give them an honest, fresh-ears, chance. I don't think you'll regret it.