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29 September 2010 @ 08:16 pm
Hanson  
I feel (a bit irritatedly) that it's important to address the stigma associated with the band "Hanson". Once upon a time, 3 blond boys (ages 11, 14, 16) debuted on the music scene with a catchy, sticky-sweet pop tune called MMMBop. Because it blew up the charts, it was played constantly, and their faces were all over music television (and the news, and various talk shows). People got sick of them. Actually hated them. Hated their poppy music and their faces without giving them a chance. According to this Wiki link:

"Like many songs that achieved extreme popularity, this song has experienced a backlash against its once ubiquitous airplay. Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania held a student-created fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina called "Stop the Bop." The school played the song before classes begin in the morning, and between each period over the school PA system. The playing of this song was only stopped when the school raised $3,000 for hurricane relief and the school thereby "stopped the bop." After the fundraising had concluded, Hanson responded by matching the students' donation as well as sending a copy of their 2004 album Underneath for every student in the school." (bold emphasis added)

Is MMMBop my favorite song? Nope. Even I could get tired of it. But I appreciate what it did for these boys. And I appreciate even more that they appreciate it. They played it (and some other songs from their debut) last night at the concert. They're not ashamed of it, or embarrassed by it. They wrote it 14 years ago (if not earlier), but it's theirs, and still a crowd-pleaser.

Hanson got a bad wrap because they were boys, and girls went crazy for them. Their music was poppy, and people naturally assumed they didn't write it or do anything other than dance around (like Backstreet Boys or NSync, other groups popular at the time). But they did actually create their music.

This debut album sold 10 million copies worldwide. The rest... didn't get over 1 million. Why? Marketing. It's all about marketing, the one thing those young men didn't have control over. In 2004 (after a lot of fighting within Island/Def Jam because said label refused to speak plainly to them about what it wanted, and refused to market their album), the men left Island/Def Jam and started their own label, 3CG. (More info from Wikipedia): "The album went to #1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart in April 2004. [...] 'The Walk' was released on July 24, 2007 in the United States and debuted at #4 on Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart and #56 on the Billboard 200 album chart."

My point is, I feel if Hanson had come along in an alternate timeline, where pop music didn't suddenly take over the charts after a grunge-period (though many site Hanson as helping start this trend), perhaps they'd be taken more seriously. A friend of Andrew's asked him if these were the same douchebags responsible for MMMBop, and when I called him out on his stupidity, he tried to backpedal. I have no problem with people disliking the music, but at least respect that they're still making music, and are fighting in the music industry to do what they love. It's all they've ever cared about--the fame was just extra.

SO, onto my review of the concert:

First off, they're touring with a band named Rocket To The Moon, and they had a good energy. The music wasn't quite my style, but they had good harmony, which is very important to me. Also, at each stop on the tour they pick (from audition tapes) a local band to open. Andrew and I didn't hear much of that because we were eating at P.F. Chang's :P But the last couple of songs weren't bad. They were The Girlfriend Season.

Hanson came onstage some time after nine, and right away the energy in the small venue skyrocketed. As much as I've loved Hanson, I'd never been to one of their concerts, and only recently (thanks, Internet!) got to experience some of their live streams and see past performances (thanks, YouTube!). As such, I hadn't ever witnessed firsthand the energy, and the level of talent. I touted their talent, sure, but to see it live (as with any decent musician at a concert) was really breathtaking.

They played songs from each of their major albums (including their debut) and also a couple covers--both of which blew me away:

Oh Darling - The Beatles



There are a few different YouTube vids of this cover (various amounts of screaming heh; I tried to find the best sound quality, so this vid is from 2008), and I was just... so very impressed. Brought on a whole new respect for Hanson, specifically Zac (the drummer and youngest).


Hold On, I'm Comin' - Sam & Dave



Again, showing their roots -- this is the music they were raised on (Motown hits) and I am both irritated and amused at the people who don't realize this isn't something Hanson wrote. Irritated for obvious reasons, but amused (and flattered by proxy) because this is the sound Hanson channels. 60s R&B + soul isn't exactly what you expect from three blonde guys in the year 2010, but that's what they love, and want their fans to experience.

The also plugged their work in helping Africa AIDS research, and poverty prevention. They usually do a 1-mile barefoot walk before a concert (they said they've been doing this for 4 years) but the one for Boise was cancelled. Not sure why; I didn't plan to go anyway because I respect the work, but there's no way this body could make it one mile without some type of foot support.

I want more people to realize Hanson is a serious, committed band. I want the stigma to disappear. I want media critics to not title their reviews with "Hanson Boys become Men" or something silly (they aren't immune to age, idiot) that focuses on their past and not their real, true and good present.

I had a blast last night, and I'm thankful that I got to experience Hanson live. I'm grateful that Andrew bought the tickets and joined me, because while he isn't a Hanson "fan", he respects their art and talent, and that's what matters to me.

[ps: icon is a Hanson lyric; go figure]

[edited to add]: Couldn't bring cameras (Whatthecrap?!?) but of course everyone had phones. Unfortunately mine is rather crappy in the camera department. Still, this is one of the better shots I got, simply because I like the light (click to enlarge):


 
 
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