Post-pubescent success sets worthy bands apart

By | August 14, 2010


Others fade into obscurity, Hanson remains relevant due to talent, proven formula

One of my lifelong dreams came true last week: I saw Hanson live in concert. Yes, I’m talking about the three brothers from Oklahoma who wrote that infectious little pop tune “MMMBop” back in the mid-nineties. I am not ashamed. As a lover of all types of music, I still think boy bands have a place in the world of entertainment and I’m glad they haven’t died out, yet.

I remember when my only source for music was the Disney Channel. They used to broadcast music videos and live concerts and the acts they featured were mostly squeaky-clean, bubblegum pop stars. This is where I discovered *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Hanson and Britney Spears. I knew there was other music out there — my dad only played classic rock when I rode in the car with him and my mom loves everything from opera to jazz. This was just what I liked.

I guess most people change their taste in music as they get older. I don’t think my taste has completely changed, but it has surely expanded. True, many of the boy bands I grew up listening to have broken up and/or faded out of the spotlight. Despite this tragedy, America still needs boy bands and new ones are cropping up all the time.

Take the Jonas Brothers for example. They have followed the same formula as Hanson. Both bands are comprised of three brothers who all play instruments and sing and both groups gained popularity when the members were young. Hanson was definitely not the first family band, but they capitalized on their cuteness by growing their hair long and singing nonsensical lyrics. Hanson did have support from the Disney Channel, especially online when Disney Online was just getting established. The Jonas Brothers took their fame to new levels by starring in a television show on the Disney Channel and making a 3-D concert movie that was released in theaters nationwide. Some critics have said that the Jonas Brothers owe their entire career to Hanson because they are so similar.
So how did Hanson manage to survive in the music industry for almost 20 years while bands like *NSYNC fizzled out? It wasn’t easy.

The band had trouble with their label (something common among the histories of many boy bands) and ended up creating their own label, 3CG Records, in 2003. The band has recorded five albums and launched an extensive activism project with the release of their 2007 album “The Walk.” The group continues to tour annually even after all three brothers got married and had kids.

Maybe the bigger question is why does a band like Hanson still have fans? Part of it is because pop music makes people happy. It’s carefree, fast and fun to dance to. The music has also gotten a lot better since the “MMMBop” days. Simply put, if a boy band has the actual musical talent to have any kind of longevity they surely should not be discounted because they capitalized on their boyish charm when they started their careers young.

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