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Appreciating a wildly unappreciated band: MMMBop, bitches (Saturday Video Roundup)

Scholars and Rogues

When they first hit in 1997 with “MMMBop,” I remember Hanson being dismissed by my music intelligentsia friends as some kind of put-up job, a prefab kiddie novelty act. Thing is, it wasn’t true. At all. The brothers Hanson – Taylor, Isaac and Zac – were legit talented, their shiny, radio-friendly sound underpinned by a rich sense of Chicago R&B rhythm and Gospel-inflected harmony. (It’s fun trying to write in hipster-reviewer speak, init? Hey, I’ve been telling you for years I ain’t no reviewer.)

Now, nearly two decades on, they’re better than ever. Let’s kick today’s #SVR with a recent acoustic performance of that hit, one that strips down to the naked essence of a worthy pop gem.

Here’s the lads are riffing on Blues Brothers. One of the most infectious tunes I’ve heard in years. Admit it – you wish you were in this video.

From 2010, “Give a Little.” Yeah, they an write a hook.

We’ll close with “Get the Girl Back” from 2013’s Anthem. A little neo-Soul, anybody?

Happy Saturday, folks.



Taylor Hanson on ‘MMMBop’: ‘You can’t think that you’re going to run from it’

EW

(Byron Cohen/ABC)

Hanson stopped ’90s kids’ hearts last week with a gorgeous, acoustic performance of their 1997 hit “MMMBop” on ABC’s Greatest Hits. EW caught up with Taylor Hanson to chat about that widely-shared episode, the new music (essentially three albums!) the band has planned leading up to next year’s 20th anniversary of Middle of Nowhere, and of course, what’s next on tap for Hanson Brothers Beer Company (makers of MMMHops).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When ABC approached you for Greatest Hits, was it a no-brainer? Or did you have to stop and think about it?
TAYLOR HANSON: Well, we’re all about moving forward, so any time there’s a historic-focused show or event, we always measure that. But we’re so proud of what we’ve come from, we feel like it’s exciting to be almost 20 years since that record [Middle of Nowhere] came out, and almost 25 since we started [as a band]. So once we saw the context of the show, and the chance to really just breathe a fresh life into the song in front of the receptive audience, we thought it was a great opportunity.

How did that version of “MMMBop” come together?
“MMMBop,” like a lot of our songs, starts with a very core song itself, which you can sit down and play on a piano or a guitar. I mean, with most good songs, that’s the measure: Can you sit down and sing it, or play it, and will it stand up? “MMMBop” has always been able to be performed that way.

In fact, if you go back to 1997, the first televised performance of “MMMBop” was us performing acoustically on The Jenny McCarthy Show on MTV. So if you look at that performance, it’s strikingly the same structure — and here we are almost 20 years later. With that [Greatest Hits] performance, we wanted to actually go back to the way we shared the song at radio stations all over the world when we walk into the studio, or in our living room when we first wrote it. So the performance on Greatest Hits is both new and old. I think it plays into the whole idea of that show, and what people are excited about.

Do you ever get sick of playing it?
The short answer is no. We’re always proud of playing it. As you know, as a fan, we rarely just play “MMMBop” when we’re playing music. But at this point, we’ve probably played “Penny & Me” or “Where’s the Love” almost as many times, because when you actually play as a band, oftentimes you’re walking out and playing a set. You’re not simply walking out and playing your biggest hit.

I think what we have always leaned towards is being proud of what you’ve done, but always wanting to add things to that story. And when you have a song that was as ubiquitous as “MMMBop,” you can’t think that you’re going to run from it. You’re always going to be adding to it. And that’s just a very unique position to be in. It’s very rare to have a single song that has reached that far.

Some of your kids are now as old as you guys were when you started. Is that weird for you guys? Are you ready for Hanson: The Next Generation?
When we did The Jenny McCarthy Show  ’97, I was my son’s age — so that is pretty surreal. And I won’t say that it doesn’t give you pause when you think about it. But it’s pretty amazing to be dads to these really cool kids. That’s great. You’re just trying to do your best to not screw them up in some way. Hopefully your own past and your own history doesn’t weigh too heavily on them.

You mentioned those two big anniversaries next year: 25 years as a band, and 20 years since Middle of Nowhere and “MMMBop” debuted. What do you have planned?
We’ll announce the details, hopefully, later this fall, but we are going to do an anniversary tour next year, for the next full record. And we want to celebrate being this far in, and having been able to share music for this long.

You’re releasing a special edition LP this fall, Loud + Play, and half of those songs were on a Hanson.net Fan Club EP. How do you decide what songs make the Fan Club EPs, which come out every year, and which you’ll save for the wide-release album?
It’s a good question. Some of that stuff is subliminal. When you’ve had a relationship, creatively, between three people for more than two decades, there tends to be an unsaid mood that takes hold. And oftentimes you’ll find yourself in a year, and… It’s a little bit like when you eat something salty, then you want something sweet. If your last record was salty, your next record, you want it to be sweet. So I think a lot of times you can feel there’s an overarching theme, and you begin to archive songs that you feel align with that.

So I think the real, defining difference is, there’s a broad sense, always, that new songs are potentials for new records. And when we approach the fan club projects, we really try and start the process right then. We don’t usually include the idea that’s waiting. We treat it as this exercise of the mind, and of creativity, and we dive in. And we say today, on Wednesday, we’re going to create something. And the process really brings a song to life. So you’re not really pulling from the same database, in a way. It’s almost like two different disciplines.

So if your 2013 album Anthem was salty or sweet, how is the new album in 2017 going to contrast with that?
Anthem was more guitar-driven. I wouldn’t say it’s harder, but it definitely was pushing on the theme of anthemic songs. So it was not particularly designed as an intimate or introspective-type record as a whole. It was looking outward, driving forward. And I think with the amount of time that’s gone between the two, the methodology changes a little bit. There’s not quite as much yin and yang because we’ve had time to cook.

My hope is that this next record and the work that you’ll hear from us going into the next couple years is just true to the messages that have kept us going, which is that you’ve gotta be bold, you’ve gotta be putting your whole force behind whatever you’re passionate about. The thing that’s caused us to do what we do for so long is that commitment, and the willingness to take risks, and to really be focused on making things that you believe in.

You’re also releasing a new Christmas album!
We are planning to return with a second Christmas album next Christmas. 20 years later!

Will it be all new songs?
It will be all new. Like Snowed In… Snowed In was one of the favorite records we’ve made — not only one of the fan favorites, but for us to make it it really was one of the most fun and rewarding records.

Why is that?
I think because we didn’t have too much time to think about it. It was made in several weeks, and we were able to tap into our love of the celebration in that record. It’s a party Christmas record. It’s not an overly syrupy record, it’s meant to be kind of a celebratory time. It’s very much a rock ‘n’ roll Christmas record, so I think for the next Christmas album, we’ll try and continue the legacy of that record, and evolve it and have some new classics. And like we’ve done on Snowed In, we’ll definitely introduce some new originals. But that fits into the whole excitement: It’s time. It’s finally time.

And maybe the most important question: Do you have any new beers coming out?
Yes, we do! We’re introducing some seasonal beers. We’re introducing the beer that is inspired by our festival, The Hop Jam. It’s called the Hop Jam Festive Ale. That’s a saison. Everybody tries it and loves it, it’s a great summer beer. It’s really refreshing, it’s got orange peel and coriander, and it’s just a really delicious beer. Then in the fall, you’ll see an amber from us, which is a very traditional, earthy style, and we’ve got an imperial stout that will come out in the winter. I love dark beers, so it’s almost like we’re working our way to the dark stuff. On a personal level, I’ll be fulfilled!



Hanson draws nostalgic crowd at Stamford’s Alive@Five

Stamford Advocate

(Photo Gallery at the source)

STAMFORD — Hanson, the “MMMBop” pop stars of the ’90s, drew a large crowd of nostalgic millennials at Thursday’s Alive@Five concert.

“All of my tweenage dreams are coming true,” said Shannon English, a 31-year-old Redding resident who was a diehard Hanson growing up.

English attended the concert with her childhood best friend Megan Hubertus, a 32-year-old Danbury resident.

“We used to print off Hanson lyrics — that was like right when the Internet became a thing — and we would memorize all of the songs,” Hubertus said.

English even had a Hanson-themed cake for her 12th birthday.

“We’re both seeing them for the first time tonight, so we’re really excited,” she said.

It was the ultimate throwback Thursday event, as the boy band played indie-pop singles from its 1997 debut studio album, “Middle of Nowhere.”

The three-time, Grammy-nominated Hanson brothers also played newer songs and covers, opening the show with Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher.”

A group of professional dancers from Toronto lined up early to get spots in the front row. Diehard Hanson fans, the group has seen more than 100 Hanson concerts among the four of them.

“We just won a video dancing contest for their song ‘In The City’ in May, so we brought signs to let them know who we are,” said Kate Wiltshire, who has seen Hanson more than 60 times

Hanson received some national attention last week when it performed an impressive acoustic version of “MMMBop” on ABC’s Greatest Hits broadcast.

The band, formed in Oklahoma in 1992, features brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac. When they first formed the band, the youngest brother, Zac, was only 6 years old.

Once the babies of the music industry, the Hanson brothers are all grown up now with young children of their own. Taylor, now 33, has five children. Zac, 35, and Isaac, 30, each have three children.

The Hanson brothers are also the masterminds behind the cleverly named MmmHops American Pale Ale.

MmmHops isn’t distributed on the East Coast, but it can be found at a number of retailers in the Hanson brothers’ home state of Oklahoma and at select locations in Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.

The Alive@Five concert series is operated by the city’s Downtown Special Services District and runs until Aug. 11. For the first time this year, the event is restricted to adults 21 and older.

The headliner next week is Third Eye Blind, a California rock band known best for its hits “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper.”

Tickets for all Alive@Five concerts are $15, with a $5 discount for those who arrive before 6 p.m.

Staff writer Nelson Oliveria contributed to this report



THE LASTING LEGACY OF HANSON: THE BOY BAND WHO COULD

MTV

TWENTY YEARS LATER, ‘MMMBOP’ HOLDS UP SHOCKINGLY WELL

Oer the weekend, Hanson performed a slowed-down, acoustic version of “MMMBop” and reminded us why we fell in love with them in the first place.

Which, for the record, was 20 years ago. Let’s not forget that it was back in 1996 when the fraternal trio dropped the song that confused and bewitched us, and somehow cemented their relevance well into the 21st century.

That’s a pretty big deal. Considering Hanson emerged around the same time as the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and even The Moffatts (shout-out to the Canadian Hanson equivalent), it’s baffling that while courting their fans’ lust for nostalgia, they’ve somehow avoided becoming “remember when?!” parodies of themselves. They weren’t in Syfy’s recent boy-band zombie movie, their reality TV ventures were limited to an episode of Cribs, and despite “MMMBop” turning 20 (see: one year away from drinking age), they’ve repackaged it in a way that’s kept it fresh. Hanson avoided the boy band curse.

Really, it’s my fault for being surprised. At no point over Hanson’s two-decade career did they hint at being anything like their contemporaries. Aside from The Moffatts (who played their own instruments and who were also related — but were also Canadian, which made them more niche), Hanson were the only “boy band” who played their own instruments, avoided choreography, and gazed longingly into the camera à la Brian Littrell. In the instances in which they were drenched in water (as all ’90s music acts must be), they were either swimming clothed and underwater (“Weird”), or wearing wet suits. Take this:

Compared to this:

And not to shade Nick Carter and the Boys (because this video was very important and I’m not about to play it down anytime soon), but that type of differentiation between Hanson and The Rest was key. Mainly because, from their debut, we knew they were basically just teens who played instruments and ran around the city, laughing in cabs. And they were also in a proper band, unlike the rest, who were proper pop stars.

This divide was carried on by the type of songs they released as well. “MMMBop” is about the passage of time, “Weird” tackled the teenage experience (lost, misunderstood, contemplating the universe), and “Where’s the Love” may have been directed at a significant other, but still left room to comment on how love affects the world en masse. And this created the middle ground between rock and Top 40 super-pop: Hanson identified and sang about particular aspects of society (the way rock bands do), but left enough room to make their fan base believe they could be singing to or about us, too. (Hands up if you also considered changing your name to “Penny.”)

On top of this, while Hanson were never shy about their Christianity, they never made it an extension of their brand. They didn’t wear purity rings the way the Jonas Brothers did. And while, in 2007, Zac talked about having waited until marriage before having sex with his wife, he told The Advocate that same year that he embraced fan fiction and that wasn’t about to tell anybody else how to live their lives. Which is exactly the right sentiment to have, especially since the boys’ androgyny was largely the group’s fourth member — at least until all three emerged from puberty. They may have been singing about women, but their sexual ambiguity left room for gray areas, which established them as slightly less heteronormative than their chartmates, who sang explicitly about (and even at) women.

And don’t even get me started on that song/video — even though it leads to my most important point. Snowed In included (their Christmas album, duh), Hanson has managed to issue largely timeless-feeling singles that avoid seeming like an embarrassment or social misstep upon reexamining them years later. (Even now, One Direction’s “she belongs to me” in “Steal My Girl” is all sorts of cringeworthy.) And this is largely because they avoided mainstream pop trends. As the ’90s progressed, Hanson’s brand of music may have given way to acts like NSYNC and 98 Degrees, but by taking a step back, they also gave themselves room to mature, grow up, and adapt before reemerging with “Penny & Me” in 2004. So in short, they’ve just kept doing them, which helped maintain a level of authenticity we don’t tend to see until after a combustion (see: every scene in the Backstreet Boys documentary) — or after a “meh, might as well” type of reunion.

And it’s not just because they’re brothers (so were two of the Lacheys, the Jonai, and The Moffatts), or because they play instruments, either. (A moment of silence for every band breakup over the last 20 years.) Nope: Hanson merely used their unique single to position themselves as an act unto themselves. And then they slowly built on it before getting their second wind, brought in by our flair for nostalgia — only to gain even more traction once we realized “MMMBop” wasn’t part of a mid-’90s road trip soundtrack. It was — and they are — actually good.

Which I guess explains why so many artists still want to cover them —no matter how wrong they keep getting it.



Isaac Hanson debuts new podcast, ‘Grace Unknown’

EW

(Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)

 

Fresh off of Hanson’s widely shared performance of “Mmmbop” on the show Greatest Hits, Isaac Hanson has started a new podcast called Grace Unknown. The first episode launched on Hanson.net July 8.

Each week, Hanson explains in the first episode, he will dissect and muse over one specific quote. As he explains, “We’ll just talk every week about things like courage, things like growth, things like love and loneliness and light.” The first episode, titled “First Courage,” focuses on a quote from tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s (who backed Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker) book, Zero to One: ”Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.”

Because Hanson is the only voice on the podcast, it ends up sounding a bit like a sermon, or even a guided meditation, as he encourages the listener to think about a time when they needed courage and urges them to move forward.

Grace Unknown is now streaming on Hanson.net, and is only available to Hanson.net Fan Club members.



Hanson performing an acoustic version of “MMMBop” will make you obsessed with it all over again

Cosmopolitan 

Warning: you will be humming it for the next two days.
Hanson performing an acoustic version of

When “MMMBop” became a hit in 1997, the Hanson brothers turned their solid harmonies and boyish good looks into mega-stardom.

Though they’ve been making music ever since, they got everyone’s attention Thursday night on the US TV series Greatest Hits, where they revived the song that made them famous in the first place.

The clip teaches us all a few important lessons. First, the Hanson brothers have aged incredibly well in the past 19 years (yes, 19!) and are now grown-ass men, even though Zac still has that long hairdo from his youth.

Second of all, remember when pop stars didn’t need insane production and Auto-Tune to sound good? Now you’ll remember what that sounds like.

Seriously – their harmonies are so good, they’ll give you chills.

Ready to feel old? The Hanson brothers are all married now and have 11 kids between them. (Taylor has five, and Zac and Isaac each have three.) When they’re not touring or making new music, they also brew beer with the fantastic name of MMMHops. It’s the perfect beer to drink while you try, and fail, to get “MMMBop” out of your head.



Grown-Up Hanson Drops Amazing Acoustic “MMMBop” Cover

Refinery 29

“MMMBop” pretty much headlines the list of all-time classic songs. The song is famously hard to cover, especially because of the weird syncopation of the its chorus.

“Someone needs to either make it totally their own in a genuinely unique way, or it needs to be a band that has a sensibility for old R&B,” Taylor told Vulture earlier this year. “Fitz and the Tantrums could maybe do it.”

“If Bruno Mars were interested,” Isaac told Vulture, “he’d probably find a way to kill it.”

Luckily, Hanson themselves were able to step up and deliver the acoustic cover the song deserves. Performing on ABC’s Greatest Hits, the brothers took the stage and slayed an acoustic cover of their long-ago hit. Isaac Hanson took guitar and brothers Taylor and Zach provided nothing but voice and barely-there percussion.

But it’s good! “MMMBop” is still a really good song. Watch below.



News Roundup: Hanson on ABC’s Greatest Hits

Hanson performing last night on ABC’s Greatest Hits has gotten a lot of attention from various media outlet, even getting them to trend on Facebook! Here are a few of the articles related to the performance:

Hanson “Greatest Hits” Video: Watch “MMMBop” Acoustic Performance! [Gossip Cop]

Is Hanson Releasing New Music? “MMMBop” Is Turning 20 & They Have An Amazing Surprise For Fans [Bustle]

Stop Everything! Hanson Are Going to Perform “MMMBop” [Pop Sugar]

MMMbop de Hanson cumple 20 años y es hora de que lo afrontes (+ Videos) [E!]

TV highlights: Hanson performs throwback songs on ABC’s ‘Greatest Hits’ [Washington Post]

 



Hanson Performs ‘MMMBop’ on ‘Greatest Hits’ — But It Doesn’t Sound the Way You Remember It

Us Weekly

Get ready to have “MMMBop” stuck in your head all over again. Hanson, the trio of music-playing brothers best known for their smash 1997 single, hits the stage for a surprisingly emotional performance of the tune on ABC’s Greatest Hits.

A sneak peek exclusive to Us Weekly shows the guys playing an acoustic rendition of “MMMBop” on the Thursday, July 7, episode, which comes 20 years after the song’s original, self-produced 1996 release. The tune went double platinum, earned a pair of Grammy nominations and led to the band’s posters adorning the walls of teens everywhere.

Also appearing on the July 7 episode are Meghan Trainor, the Backstreet Boys, Coolio, Jewel, John Legend, LL Cool J andCeeLo Green.

Greatest Hits is a summer series featuring iconic artists of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, along with contemporary hitmakers. Each episode focuses on the biggest songs from a five-year span.

In an interview with Vulture in March, the now-grown Hanson boys — Isaac, 35; Taylor, 33; and Zac, 30 — revealed that cover versions of the tune don’t typically get the song quite right.

“You know why? People can’t sing the chorus right,” Isaac said. “Most of the time they syncopate it wrong.” Tough crowd!

Hanson rocketed into the pop-music stratosphere with their debut album, MMMBop, released in May 1997 when they were mere tykes — youngest member Zac was just 11! Later releases haven’t quite had the commercial success of their first one, although their most recent album, Anthem, was released in June 2013 and added to their long list of collections to land in the top 40 of the Billboard 200.

Watch the toe-tapping performance in the video above.

Greatest Hits airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.



Hanson Has Big Plans for the 20th Anniversary of “MMMBop” (Yes, It’s Really Been 20 Years)

EOnline

(video at the source!)

The Hanson brothers aren’t really amazed that they’re all in their 30s—that’s kind of how time works, you know?—but they understand the Internet’s fascination with the fact that they are so much older now than when they first became famous.

“I think we broke onto the pop culture scene as young kids and I think people make that connection and have that association. I think a lot of the ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s been this long since a song came out’ is that people see themselves,” Taylor Hanson, now 33, tells E! News on the set of ABC’s new summer series Greatest Hits. “They go, ‘Oh my gosh, has that much time passed?'”

Adds Zac Hanson, now 30, “In the end, it’s still a compliment because people are using you as a point of reference and usually it’s something that says, ‘Oh, I remember that person, I remember that band, I remember that song and that makes me feel good, that makes me feel good about myself, that time period was good and wow, I’m really far from that.’ It’s a positive association relating to the past.”

The brothers will perform “MMMBop” on tonight’s episode of Greatest Hits—a song they’ve embraced in the nearly 20 years –yes, two decades!—since the song was released. “We have never run from our past. We definitely still sing ‘MMMBop’. When we do concerts, we still play old songs,” Zac explains.

Greatest Hits, Hanson

ABC

In 2017, Hanson will celebrate 25 years playing together as a band and 20 years since the release of “MMMBop.” As you might imagine, 25 years of material means that set lists for their shows are becoming increasingly difficult to make.

“Most of our shows are about two and a half hours long,” confesses eldest brother Isaac Hanson, now 35.

After tonight’s blast from the past on Greatest Hits, where they’ll perform alongside Echosmith, you won’t have to wait too long for new material from the Oklahoma brothers.

Says Isaac, “We’re doing random shows around the U.S. What we’ve really got our sights on is next year, and 20 years since our first record, which we’re really excited about.”

Press play on the video above to find out when you can expect a new Hanson album, and tune in to their performance on Greatest Hits at 9 p.m. on ABC.