Hanson; REAL or Imagined?

The kids … er … adults … are all right. Sorta …

hanson2The authors of the huge hit; MMMbop – are grown up ( fathers in their own right) and have elevated their game (and height) to a different level. What level? Is anyones guess.

For the large contingent of females in attendance who are in the same age bracket or a little younger than the trio – the boys are status quo. Forever embedded in that special place as pre – teen poster boys. A boy band with hair a la Beatles with a much lighter hue and a much lighter musical catalog.

For music ‘enthusiasts’ – a blend of potential combined with a dash of ‘cheese’ all mixed together with smoke and mirrors. Drummer Zac appears to be the most talented of the bunch. Singing, banging and even playing guitar and keyboards. Brother Taylor – a close second with the same talents but less sincere ( he comes across as calculated ) and less able on the skins.

Then there is Isaac. This is where the trickery appears. The mirror amongst the smoke …


Poor Isaac.

The least talented of the bunch ( he does play piano – offstage). The runt ( weakest ) in this musical litter. The guitar player who wasn’t. The brother whose Mom may ask his siblings to bring him along so he will not cry.

How else does someone explain his lack of natural rhythm in the hand clapping segments of the show? The guitarist behind him on stage playing the same chords? Something is rotten in Denmark, Montreal and probably everywhere else the ‘big boys’ play … Nothing appears natural for Isaac – it all seems forced and for that reason, all eyes focus on Zac and Taylor.

Hanson is a Pop group who tinker with – and sometimes pull off, a more profound sound. Sometimes funky, sometimes Bluesy and sometimes interesting. ‘Get the Girl Back’ – their first single to chart on Billboard in nine years and possessing a Billy Squire-type intro, an example of doing something ‘not broke’. Hanson ( and probably the powers that be) do not want to fix the sound too much. A shame because the group appears to want to mature on songs such as ‘Give a Little‘. A funky number which escapes the Pop moniker and at the very least – delivers the band to a level which is more suitable to their age than Mmmbop (even Michael Jackson OUTGREW Ben).

On the Coldplay copycat; ”Lost Without Each Other‘ – the boys soak up the love emitting from the mostly female audience. People who were in the building for the fun and not as judges. No Simon Cowells to be seen dissecting musical theory,pitch and chord structures. The audience just a bunch of folks who like what they hear and Hanson  delivered it quite well …

The band also knows how to dip into a treasured past via covers. ‘Happy Together’ – that wonderfully innocent Turtles tune as well as The Bee GeesToo Much Heaven‘ – a pair of songs perfect for the setting and sung a capella. An additive of where the boys’ come from when they are not performing their own songs. Hanson do come from an education ripe in Motown as well as Classic Rock and R and B. A fact which appears sporadically in their new songs from their latest disc; Anthem.

‘Lost without You’ is a perfect example of what is good in Hanson. The boys are hugely popular worldwide and appear to do things for the right reasons. They have a squeaky clean image which borders on a seemingly ‘uncomfortable’ transition into adulthood ( see video below).

Hanson cannot be taken seriously in the grand theme of musical history. Hanson will never be spoken in the same breath as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan or  Elton John. Hanson will be included in conversations related to all the boy bands who have come before and will arise in the future.They will be added into a category of able songwriters who can write catchy Pop tunes.

A bad thing?

Only if the ‘kids’ who idolize the band are not all right …

Or …

Hanson: Melding Rock and R&B Influences with Radio-friendly Pop

By Craig McKee

How many groups do you know that can go on tour and play EIGHT songs from their newest album without their fans minding a bit?

That’s what fans of the pop/rock trio Hanson heard at Sunday night’s show at the Corona Theatre in Montreal. Taylor, Isaac, and Zac treated their fans to 23 songs from their catalog of pop gems, including eight from their new album, Anthem.

They performed hits from their early years, including Mmmbop (the song that launched them – written and first recorded when the average age of the band members was 11), Where’s the Love, A Minute Without You, With You in Your Dreams, This Time Around, Crazy Beautiful, Lost Without Each Other, and Penny and Me. Their encore included a rocking version of the 2000 album cut In the City that is even better live than on record.


But what really shows the development of the band is their more recent output, 2010’s Shout It Out (which has a distinctly Motown feel to it) and 2013’s Anthem, which incorporates their classic-rock-influenced style into a very current sound. Whether they exhibit the influences of Ray Charles or The White Stripes, they seem equally at home.

Hanson’s more than two-hour set also included a terrific a cappella version of the Bee Gee’s Too Much Heaven along with a rousing version of So Happy Together. It worked. All three members sing lead on different songs, and all three are comfortable changing places and instruments on stage, going from drums to piano or vice versa.

What is very clear about Hanson is that they are in it for the long haul. Each album this hard-working band releases shows another side of their talent and a growing maturity. They are celebrating 21 years as a band, even though the youngest member (drummer Zac) is just 28 (guitarist Isaac will turn 33 next week while piano/keyboard player and lead singer Taylor is 30).

Unfortunately, those most lacking in imagination will cling to the success of Mmmbop as an indication that these brothers aren’t to be taken seriously. But that’s their problem. With each new release, Hanson keeps proving themselves with quality material and passionate, crowd-pleasing performances.

The thing that comes across most as you watch Hanson is that these three really love music and respect those who have paved the way for them. It shows.

–Craig McKee is a Montreal journalist who has covered news and entertainment for more than 25 years. He is the creator of the  political blog Truth and Shadows

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