Hanson isn’t some bunch of spoiled boy banders who sleep all day and party all night – the three young men we watched grow up are all married with children. Though they could be resting on their laurels, they’re not only still recording and touring, they’re activists as well. They’re latest tour, the “Walk Around the World Tour”, is helping to fight poverty in Africa by getting their fans to take a 1-mile walk, barefoot, before each show to bring awareness to the plight of the many African children who do not have shoes.
The Hansons have become one of the most popular musical families in American history. The three brothers released their first independent record in 1994, but their real launch as a hit group came in 1997 with the release of their first hit album. They became the Jackson 5 of the 90s with cool harmonics and catchy tunes. Middle of Nowhere brought the trio into the limelight. The album was comprised of songs co-written by the boys and professional songwriters Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Desmond Child. Nine of the thirteen tracks on the album featured contributions from professional writers. Their single, 'Mmmbop', became a musical sensation: it received constant radio play in 1998, and the catchy melody was on the lips of everyone between the ages of 8 and 30.
Isaac, the oldest of the brothers and the lead guitarist, was only 16 when the band was launched. Taylor, lead singer and keyboardist, was only 13. Youngest of the bunch, Zac, began as the band's drummer at the young age of 11. Before the huge success of their first album they lived in Tulsa with their family. They sang around the dinner table as kids and played at local festivals and schools before their big break. With the success of 'Mmmbop' they were able to sign with Mercury Records. A video for 'Mmmbop,' which was directed by Tamara Davis, helped to promote the single and the resulting album. With the publicity in full gear, 'Mmmbop' opened at number 13 on the charts. The Hanson brothers became major teen idols and soon their Christmas LP, Snowed In, sold thousands of copies. Shortly after, they released a concert album, Live From Albertane.
For their first few years Hanson was constantly busy. They toured relentlessly to crowds of swooning teenage girls. Merchandise graced the shelves of kids across the country and around the world. Tickets to concerts sold like hot cakes. After the fanfare over Middle of Nowhere died down the brothers took some time off to work on a follow-up album. During Hanson's down time, the following they had developed formed an automatic following for up and coming artists like Britney Spears, the Backstreet boys, Christina Aguilera and 'N Sync. In 2000 the brothers resurfaced with This Time Around; the album was more mature and they thus began to attract an older audience. Their fan base, however, still consisted mostly of teenagers. The album featured guest spots from Jonny Lang and Blues Traveler's John Popper. It also showed influences of rockers like Matchbox 20.
Though the second album was not as successful as the first, it still sold quiet well. Hanson was not discouraged by their minor setback in ratings: they soon released a third album, Underneath, on their own label called 3CG Records: it featured songwriting collaborators Matthew Sweet and Gregg Alexander. The album was successful with a still-emerging older fan base. The band continuously toured throughout their career: they toured all over the U.S. and throughout Europe. Their newer sound astounds listeners who weren't impressed with their 'Mmmbop' history.
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