’90s Pop Sensation Hanson Is Still Going Strong After More Than 25 Years

By | November 14, 2018


Two decades since “MMMBop,” ’90s pop sensation Hanson is still going strong, with orchestral versions of their greatest hits. The Hanson brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac join us.


Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, Grammy-nominated band of brothers. They’ve sold more than 16 million albums to date. Their album “String Theory” is out now. (@hansonmusic)

Compiled by On Point producer Miriam Wasser

From The Reading List

NPR: “First Listen: Hanson, ‘String Theory’” — “There must be a dozen ways to process the idea of a double-length, career-spanning album in which the long-running pop band Hanson performs while backed by an orchestra. You could study the new symphonic arrangements, courtesy of Oscar winner David Campbell (a.k.a. Beck’s dad), and pick apart how they compare to the originals. You could examine the trend of veteran bands performing with orchestras — even Hanson’s pal ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic is doing it — as a way of refreshing their catalogs. You could question the appeal of the idea to anyone outside a preexisting pool of diehards.

“But in the case of String Theory, it’s perhaps best to view the concept as a means of highlighting Hanson’s remarkable songcraft. Hanson has been a band for more than 25 years, and has had a serious commercial legacy to live up to ever since Middle of Nowhere and the inescapable ‘MMMBop’ sold millions back in 1997. When that record came out, brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson were 16, 14 and 11, respectively — and, as a result, were widely viewed outside their fan base as a prefab boy band. But even then, they were accomplished players and songwriters, capable of airtight arrangements and impeccable sibling harmonies. Now that they’re in their 30s (and still writing new records, selling out theaters and even brewing their own line of beer), they’re better positioned to demonstrate what’s long been obvious: These guys write hooks sturdy enough to hold up any kind of arrangement you can name.”

Associated Press: “Review: Hanson, the kings of ‘MMMBop,’ turn to orchestras” — “The Hanson boys have done everything in their power to get you to listen beyond ‘MMMBop.’ They’ve put out solid new music, live CDs, Christmas albums — OK, lots of Christmas albums — greatest hits collections, and even covers of songs by U2 and Radiohead. Now they’ve gone uptown — they’ve gone orchestral.

“The 23-track double album, ‘String Theory,’ finds Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson reworking past songs and unreleased ones for swaths of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. One new song, “Siren Call,” uses a full 46-piece orchestra.”

This program aired on November 12, 2018.

REVIEW: Hanson with symphony orchestra at Tower Theatre is more mature and classical, but still essentially Hanson

By | November 14, 2018

The Morning Call

Back in 1997, when Hanson’s “MMMBop” became an inescapable hit, too many people wrote off the group as a boy band that would fade when its primary audience passed puberty.That was a huge mistake. Hanson never was a boy band – its three sibling members (ages 11-16 when “MMMBop” was released) were perhaps precocious, but were talented musicians and songwriters who since have released more than a dozen albums (four gold or platinum), had a half-dozen more hits and have consistently matured musically.

Taylor Hanson performs at Tower Theatre in Upper Darby on Sunday

JOHN J. MOSER/The Morning Call
Taylor Hanson performs at Tower Theatre in Upper Darby on Sunday
Taylor Hanson performs at Tower Theatre in Upper Darby on Sunday (JOHN J. MOSER/The Morning Call)

So while those original naysayers might have been surprised to see Hanson take the stage with a 36-piece orchestra Sunday at Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, it made sense to those who have watched the group develop. And it worked surprisingly well.

In a show of 23 songs over 90 minutes (plus an intermission), Hanson not only showed that it has matured into a band that can write capably for symphony treatment, but that its early hits also were sophisticated enough to be interpreted by an orchestra.

And Hanson chose a good one to do that Sunday. The 36-piece ensemble’s sound was lovely, lush and precise, and did precisely its purpose.

The show was a sequential performance of Hanson’s new symphonic album, “String Theory,” released Friday, that offers new songs and re-arranged versions of hits and other songs.

“Twenty-five years ago we started making music together,” eldest brother Isaac told the crowd as an introduction. And after a tour acknowledging that anniversary last year, Hanson decided “we need to do something different to start the next 25 years.”

And the opening of “Reaching for the Sky Part 1” made sense as a next move. With middle brother Taylor at the piano and doing most of the singing, the song was tender and symphonically lush at the same time: A mature, multi-layered move ahead for the band.

The next few songs did more to explain Hanson’s new direction. A re-worked “Joyful Noise” from 2016 showed the full sound of an orchestra. “Where’s The Love,” the 1997 hit that followed “MMMBop,” had more of a rock sound, but as neither fully symphonic nor fully rock was least successful.

But “MMMBop” showed the idea’s full potential. It was reinvented – certainly matured – but kept all of the essence with which fans fell in love. Pairing it with the 2012 song “Chasing Down My Dream,” with youngest brother Zac front and center playing good guitar, worked wonderfully. And the orchestration was at its best.

It seemed obvious that Hanson’s later compositions as a whole, made an easier transition to classical. “Tragic Symphony” from 2013 even had a funk edge that the orchestra handled well. “Siren Call” from 2016 was a natural for orchestral treatment, and was very symphonic – the drums and orchestra working together to build and maintain tension. And Zac’s vocals were very good.

“Dream It Do It” was far more orchestrated, and the slow, piano-based “Me Myself and I” from 2010, which closed the first set, also seemed to already have had a classic feel to it.

It also seemed that Hanson’s slower songs more easily made the transition. “Broken Angel” from 2004, with Zac on piano, was especially good. The same effect also worked for the also-slow “What Are We Fighting For” from 2015.

The symphony also worked on drum-heavy songs such as “Battle Cry” and “You Can’t Stop Us” from 2013.

In the cases where songs were less successful, it seemed to be because they were lesser songs. “Got a Hold On Me” from 2007 was elevated by the orchestration, but wasn’t as good. “Yearbook” from 1997 had a wonderfully classic piano and plenty of drama, but also wasn’t as good.

And halfway through the second set, it seemed as if Hanson needed to do more of its hits. If the group takes a second stab at orchestration, latter-day hits “Penny & Me” and “Georgia” would seem to be perfect for symphonic treatment.

The second set, after opening with “Reaching for the Sky Part 2,” another early hit, 1999’s “This Time Around,” again showed how well Hanson’s music transitions – and it got a big cheer from the crowd.

It show how, surprisingly, while Hanson has matured (Taylor had a full beard), its fans – a big majority female — clearly were still infatuated with turn-of-the-century Hanson. (The show had started with boy-band fan screams from the crowd.)

For “Something Going Round,” several in the crowd stood up to sing the end. And the crowd finally fully stood nine songs into the second set for 2016’s “No Rest for the Weary,” very good, with Taylor on guitar.

The show wound down with the very good 2017 song “I Was Born,” a combo of rock and symphony. “The Sound of Light” from 2013 didn’t change that much from the original version. And the closing “Tonight” was more rock than symphonic.

Hanson hasn’t been doing encores on this tour, but Sunday came back for an exquisitely harmonized, a cappella version of the National Anthem.

It, too, sounded very much classical, and very mature. But it also was purely Hanson.


Tuesday Trivia

By | November 13, 2018


The Isaac lead that was almost a Taylor lead is “Deeper”

Match the Hanson to the career paths they would most likely take if it was not music. (Note: Only 2 of the 3 brothers are represented)  Something creative and connecting people, throwing parties.  Learning and taking on new challenges.

Do you have a Hanson trivia question you'd like to submit for consideration for our Tuesday Trivia question?  Send the question & answer to blog@hansonstage.com

WWE News: Several WWE superstars appear on WWE Exclusive episode of Carpool Karaoke (Video)

By | November 12, 2018


What’s the story?

WWE have announced that an exclusive episode of Carpool Karaoke has hit the Apple TV app, starring Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, The New Day, Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman!

Carpool Karaoke have also released the official trailer for the episode, and details of how to watch, which you can check out below.

In case you didn’t know…

Carpool Karaoke began as a recurring segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden where Corden would invite famous musical guests to join him as a passenger in his car, and both parties would belt out some of their hits while driving on the pretense of getting to work or needing directions.

Apple bought the worldwide rights to Carpool Karaoke in 2016 and adapted the series in August 2017 for Apple Music subscribers.

The Emmy-winning series sees The New Day sing along to MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This and Stephanie McMahon rapping along to Young MC’s Bust A Move and some Metallica! Meanwhile, Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss rock out to Hanson’s MMMbop.

Hanson Has Reimagined ‘MMMBop’ With A Symphony Orchestra & It’s True Beauty

By | November 11, 2018


Hanson Has Reimagined ‘MMMBop’ With A Symphony Orchestra & It’s True Beauty

How many times do you reckon Hanson have performed MMMBop over the last 20-odd years? Heck, one cannot even begin to try and estimate. I reckon I’ve seen it on Sunrise 20 x times alone to be honest. But performing MMMBop with a live symphony orchestra? Well, this is something I have not yet seen. UNTIL TODAY THAT IS.

It’s so wholesome:

Dang, they’re it’s beautiful. Oh, and for your much-needed information, the ’97 banger was originally written acoustically – whoever does the @hanson Insta posts said so themselves (my money’s on Taylor).

Wanna see this live, in person, with the three daddies a stone’s throw away? Honey you and me both, and we can. Whoop whoop. This is how the choon-and-a-half has – and will continue to be – performed globally for the trio’s current String Theory World Tour, coming to an Aussie venue near you:

Wednesday, February 27
Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Monday, March 4 – SOLD OUT
Sydney Opera House

Tuesday, March 5 
Sydney Opera House

Wednesday, March 6
Canberra Theatre

Friday, March 8
The Star, Gold Coast

Saturday, March 9
QPAC, Brisbane

Along with MMMBop, Hanson will also be performing bonafide bangers from their 10 studio albums (!!!), all with their orchestra crew in tow. That being said, there are 2 x “special shows” at Melbourne bloody Zoo on Friday, March 1 (sold out, soz) and Saturday, March 2 (buy here) as well.

If you can’t make the shows, well, that’s a shame for your childhood dreams, but you could also try doing it vicariously through the String Theory album, dropping tomorrow.

Hanson brothers check off bucket-list item with orchestral show

By | November 10, 2018

St. Louis Dispatch

Hanson playing with an orchestra?

Relax. Those cute “MMMBop” kids from the ’90s may have grown up, but they haven’t exactly gone highbrow, singing “MMMBach” or some such now.

But the band of brothers — Isaac, Taylor and Zac — have been performing and making records for more than 25 years, and as Isaac remarked at the outset of their concert Wednesday night at Stifel Theatre, they were looking for a new challenge.

“What’s the point of doing this so long if you don’t start checking things off the bucket list?” he said.

For Hanson, that bucket-list item turned out to be a new album, “String Theory” (scheduled for release Friday), which features old and new songs arranged for band and orchestra, with an overarching theme, as Taylor put it, of “reaching for that crazy dream, reaching for the sky.”

The trio, backed by an orchestra of 20 pieces or so plus a pair of support musicians, played “String Theory” in sequence and in its entirety. The orchestrations were by Oscar-winning arranger David Campbell, aka father of Beck Hansen.

Hanson performs with an orchestra on its “String Theory” world tour. Photo courtesy of Big Hassle

The theme Taylor spoke of was right there in many of the song titles, especially the new ones, such as “Reaching for the Sky,” “Dream It Do It” and “Chasing Down My Dreams” as well as at least one older one, “You Can’t Stop Us.”

That kind of confidence, self-reliance and positivity is part of what has kept Hanson afloat as an independent act after its meteoric major-label ride was over. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with the message, its repetition made the evening — just as it makes the new album — a little one-dimensional.

The orchestrations, too, sometimes worked against the typical kinetic energy of a Hanson show, keeping audience members pinned down in places where it seemed like they wanted to get up and dance. They eventually found some opportunities, though.

Not much was said between songs, but the winning personalities of the brothers still shone through as they traded lead vocals — and sometimes instruments — and sang in three-part harmony.

As for “MMMBop,” still their signature hit, they dispensed with it early, stripping it back to an acoustic arrangement with minimal orchestral accompaniment.

The second half of the show seemed to work better than the first, as the orchestra settled in and the sound mix improved, providing highlights such as “This Time Around” and “Battle Cry,” on which band and orchestra rocked out with common purpose.

“What Are We Fighting For,” which displayed a lighter touch, was equally fine, as was “Breaktown,” which gradually grew in grandeur and volume.

The show concluded with two songs that had fans on their feet — the 2017 single “I Was Born” and “The Sound of Light” — before the finale, “Tonight,” put them back in their seats, even though it returned one last time to the lyrical uplift and encouragement of the show’s theme: “Don’t wait til tomorrow,” Taylor sang.