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Siblings Day revelry: Hanson celebrate 20 years of "MMMBop"
If you were alive and conscious in the summer of 1997, Hanson were everywhere. It was physically impossible to miss the explosive hit that was "MMMBop" as it seeped relentlessly into Sony Discmans and seemingly every crevasse of open airplay on radio and television. Anywhere a song could conceivably be heard, there it was. And Hanson, the group behind the hit, were as magnetic as the song's melody: three brothers, ages 11 (Zac), 13 (Taylor) and 16 (Isaac), from Tulsa, Okla.
Two decades years later, after surviving the cosmic spread of international stardom and the inescapable trials that go along with coming of age underneath that spotlight, the trio is still thriving. But how did the musically adroit brothers find their way from a smash single in the Middle Of Nowhere to an Anthem of triumph, all in the name of brotherly love?
"I think that's the beauty of being young when you start searching for your passion," says Zac Hanson. "You don't think of things in a 'maybe I’ll get part way there' kind of way. As a child, you're going, 'I'm gonna go to the moon.'"
Released April 15, 1997, "MMMBop" skyrocketed to No. 1 and earned Hanson two GRAMMY nominations for Record Of The Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group, plus a third nod for Best New Artist based on the strength and promise of their debut album, Middle Of Nowhere.
"The contrast of what we were doing, I think, was one of the reasons why it resonated," Taylor Hanson says. "It was contrasted to a lot of the grunge and the sort of dark, moody tone of a lot of the biggest artists [at the time]. It really did come out of nowhere for a lot of people."
As the millennium turned, Hanson harnessed the success of their blockbuster debut single and album to build a career and steadily grow a worldwide fan base. Through the clamor of screaming fans and skeptical critics, the brothers maintained a devotion to solid musicianship and literate songcraft that propelled them to eventually transcend "MMMBop," even if the industry was a little slow to catch up. In 2004, after recording more than 80 songs for their third studio album and finding themselves at odds with their record label, Hanson self-released the critically acclaimed Underneath on their own imprint, 3CG Records.
Hanson have never looked back. Six studio albums into their still-growing legacy, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson have garnered a well-earned reputation for tight vocal harmonies, soulful rock grooves and a strong work ethic. However, their lasting success raises an interesting question: Is their longevity as a band because they are related or in spite of it?
"There's a huge heritage with siblings in bands and making music," says Taylor Hanson. "The question about siblings is always interesting. [For] some people it creates conflict, for some people it quells conflict. To survive over time as a sibling group, it really has to be more than that. It has to be built on a shared goal just like any band would be."