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.
So Hanson is constantly moving forward, but they’re old school, too (apparently they’re one big paradox). Sure, they’ll always be associated with the ’90s-pop-MTV-generation, but the inspiration for the music they make goes back way further than that.
Their musical tastes and values are deeply rooted in the music they grew up listening to. Little Richard; Ray Charles; The Band; Jimi Hendrix; Cheap Trick; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Elvis Presley; Cat Stevens; Janis Joplin; AC/DC; Stevie Wonder; Eddie Cochran; Traffic. . . all of these artists are unarguably cool, right? Hanson has covered songs by these legends and many more in concert, starting back in the ’90s when they chose to play classics like “Crosstown Traffic” to theaters full of unknowing preteens and their appreciative parents.
By the way, while the rest of the world forgot about them back in 1998, Hanson has maintained a loyal fanbase that will buy from them and die for them. The band knows they owe their continued success to their (obsessively scary, 90% female) fans, and they do not take this for granted—they consistently give back to those who support them to make their fans feel special.
The band was one of the first to start a successful, paid, online fan club back in 2000 that remains a fan community and active resource of all things Hanson to this day. Hanson.net serves as a multimedia testament of their every project, including journal entries and video blog updates from the band and certain restricted access only available to paid members. One fan club member is randomly given the honor to be a “reporter” for each Hanson concert in exchange for a meet and greet with the band, so every show is well-documented on the official site in detail including set lists, photos, and interviews with the guys, all from a fan’s perspective.
Although Hanson might be a more liberal, non-creepy, modern day version of the Osmond’s, these guys are hipper than you might think. In a time when “indie” rockers are touted by major labels, Hanson is the true definition of a DIY band.
After the sophomore “slump” of their follow-up album This Time Around (a mere 262,000 records sold in 2000) and years of struggles with their label Mercury Records during the messy Island Def Jam merger, they parted ways with Mercury due to irreconcilable differences. Whereas countless bands in the same position were neglected and eventually dropped from their major labels when the overly confident industry of the ’90s was just beginning to collapse, Hanson got out of their contract on their terms and forged ahead on their own, by choice.
Allow me to clear this up for you. Yes, Hanson is very much alive and writing and performing songs—successfully enough, in fact, to make a living from it. Though you may assume they went out of style back in 1998 (if they were ever really “in style” at all), their new material is actually better than most of today’s mainstream pop music.
While most of the millions of people who bought their first release stopped caring over a decade ago, Isaac, Taylor, and Zac have been steadfastly honing their skills as songwriters, performers, and entrepreneurs. They’ve been consistently putting out genuine, pleasing pop music at the independent level—music praised by fans and critics alike—even if their MTV and radio glory days are long over.