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Hanson

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Biography

Sounding like a revamped Jackson 5 for the '90s, Hanson came storming out of Tulsa, Oklahoma 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 had dominated the first half of 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 was 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, usually '50s and '60s rock and R&B standards and gospel songs. Eventually, the group began playing around Tulsa, performing at local festivals, at school, and 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, starting with 1995's pop-filled Boomerang. Following that album's release, Hanson began playing their own instruments, which strengthened their writing considerably, as shown on the single "MMMBop," which signaled that they were moving toward 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 and multi-platinum sales. Hanson became major teen idols, and as the holidays approached, they issued the Christmas-themed LP Snowed In. The streak of album releases continued in 1998, when the brothers 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 a 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, Christina Aguilera, and *NSYNC 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 also reflected the new influence of rockers like Matchbox Twenty. The record didn't make much of an impression on the charts, however, setting the stage for a departure from their label during the recording of their third album. Following their separation from Island, Hanson set up their own 3CG label and released Underneath in April 2004. Songwriting collaborations with Matthew Sweet and Gregg Alexander built on the mature sound of This Time Around. With teen pop behind them, the band shifted their audience to something more grassroots and indie pop by completely financing the marketing of Underneath in the U.S. and supporting the release of the album with straight-ahead, no-frills shows at various colleges. Upon release, the album entered the Billboard Independent Chart at number one and was soon picked up by Cooking Vinyl in the U.K., JVC in Japan, Univision in Mexico, and Sony in Southeast Asia. The success of the album put the group on a whirlwind tour: 25 cities across 13 countries in just over four weeks, including a sold-out show at London's famed Shepherd's Bush Empire. While the band was traveling the globe playing to larger and larger crowds, the DVD Underneath Acoustic Live was released, featuring a Chicago show from their more up-close-and-personal 2003 acoustic tour. Their 2004 tour was captured on The Best of Hanson Live and Electric, released in both CD and DVD formats in 2005. Throughout the course of their 2005 tour, Hanson stopped at various colleges throughout the States to showcase and discuss Strong Enough to Break, a documentary about their time with Island Def Jam. The film's critical take on the label -- and the music industry in general -- took its toll when Island released a Hanson comp, MMMBop: The Collection, in late 2005; the album flopped, and Hanson's fans criticized Island for releasing the disc. The band rounded out the year by touring Europe and South America, and in the summer of 2006 Hanson traveled to South Africa to record a track, "Great Divide," with a school choir in Soweto. The single was released later that year, and the proceeds were donated to AIDS research. Hanson dove deeper into charity work with their next album, The Walk. During the accompanying tour, the brothers began taking mile-long barefoot walks before every show, encouraging their fans to do the same. The experience was meant to imitate the walks taken by African school children each day, and every mile walked resulted in more charitable donations for Africa. Isaac Hanson underwent surgery in late 2007 for a pulmonary embolism; the tour was suspended accordingly, although it resumed its pace after his recovery in mid-2008. That same year, Taylor joined the supergroup Tinted Windows alongside members of Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne, and Smashing Pumpkins. The band released an album in 2009 and toured briefly, but Taylor had returned to the recording studio with his brothers before the year was up. Hanson emerged early the following year with their eighth studio album, Shout It Out. The album performed respectably, debuting at 30 on the Billboard 200, and the group supported it with numerous shows that stretched well into 2012. Their next album, Anthem, arrived in June 2013, faring even better on the charts than its predecessor. In early 2017, Hanson announced a major tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their formation. The five-month Middle of Everywhere: 25th Anniversary Tour also served to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band's debut album, Middle of Nowhere. The brothers rounded out their banner year with the release of their second holiday LP, Finally It's Christmas. Hanson's project for 2018 was String Theory, where the trio revisited highlights from their catalog with the assistance of string arranger of David Campbell. Hanson took the String Theory show on the road in the summer of 2018, following it with a studio recorded double album of the same name in November of that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   MMMBop
  3.   Little Saint Nick
  4.   Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
  5.   Where's the Love
  6.   Merry Christmas Baby
  7.   What Christmas Means to Me
  8.   Penny & Me
  9.   Finally It's Christmas
  10.   Silent Night Medley: O Holy Night/Silent Night/O Come All Ye Faithful
  11.   Joy to the Mountain
  12.   Peace on Earth
  13.   Happy Christmas
  14.   Give a Little
  15.   Look at You
  16.   Christmas Time
  17.   Weird
  18.   Everybody Knows the Claus
  19.   All I Want for Christmas
  20.   Blue Christmas
  21.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  22.   Run Rudolph Run
  23.   Dream It Do It
  24.   Rhyming at Work
  25.   These Walls
  26.   In a Little While
  27.   This Time Around
  28.   Gimme Some Lovin'/Shake a Tail Feather
  29.   Man From Milwaukee
  30.   Thinking of You
  31.   White Christmas
  32.   Watch Over Me
  33.   The Sound of Light
  34.   At Christmas
  35.   Reaching for the Sky, Pt. 1
  36.   No Rest for the Weary
  37.   Breaktown
  38.   Battle Cry
  39.   Reaching For The Sky (Part 2)
  40.   Siren Call
  41.   Chasing Down My Dreams
  42.   Joyful Noise
  43.   Save Me from Myself
  44.   Tonight
  45.   Tragic Symphony
  46.   Scream and Be Free
  47.   Cut Right Through Me
  48.   Lost Without You
  49.   For Your Love
  50.   Already Home
  51.   I've Got Soul
  52.   Get the Girl Back
  53.   Waiting for This
  54.   Voice in the Chorus
  55.   Use Me Up
  56.   Musical Ride
  57.   Carry You There
  58.   I've Been Down
  59.   Got a Hold on Me
  60.   Georgia
  61.   One More
  62.   Fire on the Mountain
  63.   Go
  64.   Tearing It Down
  65.   Something Going Round
  66.   Ugly Truth
  67.   Rock 'N' Roll Razorblade
  68.   The Walk
  69.   Rock 'N' Roll Razorblade
  70.   Strong Enough to Break
  71.   Believe
  72.   Crazy Beautiful
  73.   Deeper
  74.   Broken Angel
  75.   When You're Gone
  76.   Lost Without Each Other
  77.   Misery
  78.   Underneath
  79.   Hey
  80.   Every Word I Say
  81.   Wake Up
  82.   Smile
  83.   A Song to Sing
  84.   Hand in Hand
  85.   Runaway Run
  86.   If Only
  87.   You Never Know
  88.   More Than Anything
  89.   Money (That's What I Want)
  90.   Ever Lonely
  91.   Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
  92.   River
  93.   With You in Your Dreams
  94.   Speechless
  95.   Yearbook
  96.   Lucy
  97.   I Will Come to You
  98.   A Minute Without You
  99.   Madeline
  100.   Gimme Some Lovin'
  101.   Good Lovin'
  102.   Til New Years Night
  103.   Dancin' in the Wind
  104.   Please Come Home
  105.   A Wonderful Christmas Time
  106.   I Was Born
  107.   Juliet
  108.   Fired Up
  109.   Me Myself and I
  110.   Kiss Me When You Come Home
  111.   And I Waited
  112.   Great Divide
  113.   Your Illusion
  114.   Optimistic
  115.   Get Up and Go
  116.   Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  117.   Jingle Bells
  118.   World's On Fire
  119.   Cry
  120.   Winter Wonderland
  121.   Running Man
  122.   Can't Stop
  123.   Someday at Christmas
  124.   Make It Out Alive
  125.   Been There Before
  126.   Love Somebody to Know
  127.   Sure About It
  128.   What Are We Fighting For
  129.   Thinking Bout Something
  130.   Intro (Ngi Ne Themba)
  131.   Blue Sky
  132.   You Can't Stop Us
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