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Hanson
Pop

Home Page:http://www.hansonline.com

Sounding like a revamped Jackson 5 for the '90s, Hanson came storming out of Tulsa, OK, in 1997 blessed with photogenic looks and a surprisingly infectious sense of melody. Hanson had a sunny pop sense that stood in direct contrast to the gloomy grunge that dominated the '90s, yet they also arrived with hip credentials -- a handful of the cuts on their debut were produced by the Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck, Sukia), and the rest were produced by Steve Lironi, who helmed Black Grape's debut. Along with the hip production, the record was comprised of songs co-written by the band with professional songwriters like Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and Desmond Child. It had the sound of a hip recording and the craft of professional pop record, making Middle of Nowhere the best of both worlds. Hanson were certainly reminiscent of an earlier era, namely the early '70s, when teens could rule the top of the charts. Like the Jackson 5, the Cowsills and the mythological Partridge Family, all of the members of Hanson were brothers. Isaac, aged 16 at the time of their debut, played guitar; 13-year-old Taylor sang lead and played keyboards; drummer Zac was 11 years old. As children in Tulsa, they sang around the dinner table, often '50s and '60s rock and R&B standards and gospel songs. Eventually, the group began playing around Tulsa, performing at local festivals, at school, around town. The brothers first attempted to break into the music industry around 1992, when they approached music attorney Christopher Sabec and sang a cappella for him. Impressed with their talents, he became their manager and began shopping them to major labels. Between 1992 and 1995, five labels passed on Hanson. The group decided to release a pair of indie records while waiting. The album Boomerang, which was filled with slick pop, appeared in 1995. Following the release of Boomerang, Hanson began playing their own instruments, which strengthened their writing considerably, as shown on the single "MMMBop," which signalled that they were moving towards a fresher, hip-hop and soul-influenced direction. The group signed with Mercury Records on the strength of "MMMBop," and they were hooked up with producer Steve Lironi, who helped the band with arrangements. Over the next year, the group worked on their album with a variety of collaborators, including co-writers like Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Desmond Child and Mark Hudson; nine of the 13 tracks on the final album featured contributions from professional writers. They also recorded a handful of tracks with the Dust Brothers, who were riding high on the success of Beck's Odelay. Prior to the spring 1997 release of their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, Mercury put the publicity machine in full gear, hiring Tamara Davis (Sonic Youth, Luscious Jackson) to direct the video for "MMMBop" and courting the press and radio. The efforts worked, as "MMMBop" debuted at number 13 on the U.S. charts upon its April release, and the album earned positive reviews, both becoming among the biggest hits of the year. Hanson became major teen idols, and as the holidays approached they issued a Christmas LP, Snowed In; in 1998, they reissued their earlier independent recordings as Three Car Garage, and also released a concert album, Live From Albertane. Following that flurry of activity, Hanson remained largely silent while they worked on the proper follow-up to Middle of Nowhere; in the meantime, thanks in part to Hanson's breakout success, teen-pop acts like Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Cristina Aguilera, and 'N Sync came to dominate the pop landscape. Hanson finally emerged in the spring of 2000 with This Time Around, a more mature, measured record that represented a bid for credibility outside their primarily teenage audience; featuring guest spots from Jonny Lang and Blues Traveler's John Popper, the album reflected the new influence of trad-rockers like Matchbox 20. Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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