Three blonde, beardless children appeared on television and sang a chorus that stuck in their minds. It was confusing but rhythmic. It was imperceptible, but a “mmmbop” was known to bounce somewhere. And it was this “mmmbop” that toured the world in 1995.
The topic had been picked up a year earlier by three children aged 10, 13 and 16. After some fine tuning in the studio, their first single from their debut album proved to be a complete success.
“MMMBop” is estimated to have sold over 10 million copies. It is certain to have reached number one top selling in more than twenty countries, including the coveted North American ranking. It quickly became one of the anthems of that year – and of the ’90s. A remarkable achievement for three young men who, more than two decades later, are a distant memory for most people.
And if you’ve remembered them at any point in the last 25 years, you’ll know they’re back with a new album and a tour that will span Europe in 2022 – although Portugal isn’t on the way.
Isaac, Taylor and Zac decided to celebrate Hanson’s 30th birthday with a world tour to present “Red Green Blue,” an album bringing together the solo works of all the brothers, who were born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and are now less beardless are. After all, Isaac is in his forties; Taylor, the teen favorite, is now 38; and the youngest Zac is also almost 40 at 36.
The first single is expected to be released on February 11th, the next two on March 11th and April 15th. The European tour starts on June 8th in Helsinki and ends on July 3rd in Leeds, UK, with stops in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Munich, Oslo and Stockholm.
The three were born into an evangelical family in suburban Tulsa and have four younger siblings. Not only were they extremely religious, they were raised at home by their parents, but they fell in love with music. They began playing different instruments and recreating the sounds of rock legends from Chuck Berry to Little Richard. They debuted their own versions of these classics on small stages and at community parties.
“We were homeschooled and spent a lot of time reading poetry and listening to rock ‘n’ roll,” Isaac told The Guardian in 2018. “My father was an accountant, but he studied ballet at university and always dreamed of becoming a poet. They were very supportive. Let’s play the drums in the living room.” Many in the religious community to which they belonged did not understand this dangerous deviation from the norm. “A lot of people in the church said, ‘Why are you going to start a band? That is very dangerous.’”
Gradually they began to raise money to finance concerts and the recording of songs. They dreamed of releasing their record. They managed to record a first demo, “Boomerang”, in 1994, and that’s also when they started writing a specific theme – they were actually the three of them who wrote the lyrics and composed the melodies, unlike many pop artists currently. .
“MMMBop only started out as a background theme. We did an independent album called Boomerang and we were working on another song and looking for something to keep in the background. And that plan eventually became the chorus of MMMBop,” Taylor said of her biggest (and only) success.
In this photo there are already forty
The Hanson brothers found themselves in a cycle of concerts on humble stages. They tried desperately to get caught by a major publisher, but their attempts were repeatedly rejected. More than a dozen publishers said no, mostly because of the decidedly pop look and sound. It was a much softer side than the one that dominated sales, the grunge era.
It was thanks to producer Steve Greenberg that they finally got the support of a publisher – he launched other names like The Jonas Brothers or Joss Stone. “No one does that,” he told The Guardian, as soon as he heard the brothers’ first songs. “I saw her at a trade show in Kansas, in the middle of nowhere, and we signed immediately.”
At this point Hanson already had her second independent album “MMMBop” in hand, which contained the original version of the song of the same name. From him Greenberg went from success.
Eventually he reached out to the producers of Odelay, Beck’s then-new album. The Dust Brothers accepted, but the recording didn’t do well. “They got fed up after two days in the studio, but adjusting the drums, bass and a few guitars was enough.” The patchwork began to form, although another difficulty arose – and the only solution was to cheat. “While we were recording, Taylor’s voice kept breaking [devido à puberdade]. I could hardly do the MMMBop in the original top, which I wanted to keep because it sounded so good,” he recalls.
“We have tried everything. We brought in a voice coach to try and catch Taylor on a good day, just pick up a line and try again another day. There was a particular high note in the second verse that he would obviously never find again. So we had to cheat, we slowed it down so he could sing it, and then we speeded it up again.” “The band never got to sing the original version live again.”
“MMMBop” was another topic. Faster and happier than the original version. The music was on point, but one detail was still missing: retouching the boys’ image. Greenberg felt that the brothers “needed a more urban and risqué style”. “They came from Oklahoma and had their own style, which was a bit suburban. We had to hit the needle, further away from Gap and further to Urban Outfitters. There was initial resistance, but then they felt better and bolder.”
“Middle of Nowhere” was released in the spring of 1997 and toured every must-visit nation in the country, from radio stations to late-night shows. As MMMBop gained traction, invites multiplied.
Puberty began to affect each of the brothers, forcing them to restate the themes sung live. “When we toured in 1997 and 1998, my voice was a challenge. We had to change the hues,” explains Taylor. “There was a psychological effect of deciding that something had to change and I couldn’t continue singing the song like that. But it all happened so quickly. I was 13 when we recorded the album, 14 and 15 when we promoted it…”
In the following years we tried to build on the success of “Middle of Nowhere”. Vain. They released Christmas albums, compilations of other songs, and even an album recorded live. They managed to hold onto a small niche of self-obsessed fans, but were never able to repeat the runaway success of the first record. Not even the second original record released in 2000 could move the needle. But that didn’t stop her either.
From 2000 to date, Hanson have released six more original albums and a new Christmas album. They continue touring in the United States, home to the fans who resisted since the late 90’s, and Europe and the rest of the world would end up being left behind, just like “MMMBop”.
In 2003, however, they founded their own publishing company, which gave them more creative freedom. After all, there were many millions earned from Middle of Nowhere to spend. Far removed from the image of beardless kids with long blond hair, the three brothers are now business and family fathers. Isaac is the father of three children. Zac has five and Taylor is the record holder with seven children. In addition to publishing, the brothers launched a beer called Hanson Brothers Beer in 2013.
However, the seemingly untouchable image recently gave way when Zac was embroiled in a controversy revealed by Vice. In an article published in 2020, the magazine revealed that there was an uproar among fanatical Hanson fans: they were angry at the recent opinions of their idols, advocates of gun use and ownership and critics of anti-pandemic measures.
The anger began with the death of George Floyd, committed by a police officer, sparking riots and tributes across the country. While thousands of other artists publicly expressed their support, the brothers remained silent. Why? For many fans, silence was a sign of indifference — and that couldn’t happen. Only after an avalanche of criticism did the Hansons decide to react publicly. “Racism is wrong,” explained Isaac.
The ever-obsessed fans soon crossed paths with younger brother Zac’s Pinterest profile. It was full of pro-gun propaganda images, many with racist, transphobic, homophobic, and misogynistic phrases.
Zac would eventually assume the account was his. “It’s a joke,” he justified himself while removing dozens of comments and blocking critics on his social networks. “The Pinterest page presented a distorted view of race and social justice issues that did not reflect my personal beliefs at all. I apologize to those who felt hurt by my actions,” Zac said again.
Isaac, the eldest, would also be in the sights of fans, who were already criticizing the band for continuing to tour even with the progress of a pandemic that was killing and killing thousands across the United States. In November 2020, with a looming new holiday vacancy looming, the band member took to social media to complain about government measures, which he said wanted to cancel Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
“I will not follow.” And once again he had to back down in the face of criticism: “It was just an emotional reaction to a recent personal experience. I apologize for the pain and concern my post has caused. I don’t think there is a group conspiring against Christmas.”