Hanson Is Cool. . . Seriously, Part Five
8 June 2010
By Brenna Chase
To celebrate the upcoming release of Hanson’s newest album, Shout It Out, and to commemorate their recent “5 For 5″ concerts, here is part five of our series on Hanson. Yes, Hanson.
Those who’ve dismissed Hanson as just another passing fad from the ’90s are under-informed. The band has earned three Grammy nominations, making Zac the youngest songwriter in history to receive such an accolade. They’ve sold over ten million albums, singles, E.P’s, and videos to date and continue to chart significantly with each independent release. Hanson is a model for how to survive and thrive in the dying, post-millennial music industry.
Of course, Hanson’s music will never be for everyone. As long as they remain a band, they will make catchy, radio-friendly songs, and they will always have that recognizable three-part-harmony sound, regardless of the general public opinion or cultural trends. The majority of their audience will always be screaming females (though a percentage of smart male Hanson fans does exist). The guys in Hanson are far from perfect songwriters or musicians. But they’re genuine and good at what they do—making pop music— and they are forever evolving.
Each album has been an unmistakable step forward, each clearly defined in its own tone and chapter within the band’s career, especially since they’ve taken to writing and producing more on their own. They recorded with two choirs in Africa and incorporated the sound bytes into their 2007 release The Walk—a far cry from the over processed drum machine loops on their multi-platinum debut ten years earlier. Their latest effort, Shout It Out, hearkens back to the band’s early rock & roll, soul, and R&B roots. They’ve even added a horn section to their live shows (featuring original Blues Brothers band members Tom “Bones” Malone and Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin) to enhance the retro vibe of their new melodies. It’s these details that infuse what would otherwise be conventional pop songs with energy and passion and sincerity.
I love Hanson, but as someone who’s observed them for so long I also can’t help but point out their limitations and laugh at their trying-so-hard dorkiness. After attending all the “5 For 5″ concerts and witnessing their artistic progression from their first release all the way up to the latest album, I’ll also be the first to admit that it’s come to the point where it’s getting harder to make fun of them (I didn’t say it’s impossible, but it is more of a challenge). They’re sharpening their pop sensibilities and business savvy, and the combination of both is pretty damn powerful.
Isaac, Taylor, and Zac have now been a band together for 18 years, and none of them have yet turned 30. The Gibb brothers sang together for over 20 years before they hit mega stardom with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It may seem absurd to predict that Hanson may have a huge hit in the future, let alone compare them to the Bee Gees, but this is math, people! If they stay together on the creative path they’ve been on for the past two decades, Hanson has time yet to produce their ultimate masterpiece.
They will most likely never outsell Middle of Nowhere, but they will surpass themselves creatively with every new release, no matter how many people are listening. “If you don’t get it, you don’t get the band,” Isaac affirms with exasperation in Strong Enough To Break. This comment serves as the definitive motto for Hanson in any year: there will never be a point when everyone fully gets or likes Hanson, but there will always be enough people who DO and who WILL.
They’ve figured out how to thrive and they don’t appear to be letting up anytime soon, constantly pushing forward and taking their fans with them, and they’re always learning as they go. Their inspiration is becoming more focused as they get older. They put on a damn good live show, too. Now, whether you’ll admit it or not, Hanson is cooler than you.