The Top Ten Reasons that Hanson Will Succeed, Despite All Obstacles
(revisited and revised, 2004)
By Debra (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article was originally written in 2002. Re-reading it, I was pleased to notice how much of it is still relevant. I decided to update it, adding some more recent examples of Hanson’s top ten success-assuring attributes. (The italicized text is what I’ve added recently).
These are not the easiest times to be a musician. With cd sales and concert tickets both lagging below last year's totals, industry officials are nervous and are not investing in artists like they used to. Instead of seeking to develop artists who will have a long career, record labels all tend to be looking for the "next big thing". Last year's "big thing" is often ignored in favor of a still newer artist, and the result is that there are more one-hit wonders and fewer follow-up hits than ever before.
This, of course, is not good news for Hanson. And to make things even more difficult for them, their last album suffered from disappointing sales. Sadly, this will give them less clout than before when negotiating about the next album. Additionally, Hanson are suffering from an image problem. A large portion of the world's population can not seem to get beyond their initial impression of Hanson as three impossibly young and impossibly cute children singing a catchy song with a nonsensical title. Too many people do not even realize that Hanson is a real band who deserve to be taken seriously.
Despite all this, I do not see Hanson's future as being bleak at all. I am absolutely certain that, given time, they will overcome all of the obstacles and take their rightful place as one of the major forces in the music world. The reason for my optimism has nothing to do with the current state of the music industry, and everything to do with Hanson themselves.
Here are my top ten reasons for believing that Hanson will succeed in the music industry.
10. Solidarity. Many bands that split up, do so because of personality rifts within the band. Hanson do not seem to be a band that will split apart due to incompatibility. These three guys obviously enjoy spending time in each other's company. There are no separate buses, no separate dressing rooms, and no separate solo careers for this family. Isaac, Taylor, and Zac hang around together when they don't even have to!
Hanson have now reached the time in their lives when they are forming important relationships outside of the family, and even starting their own families. This has apparently not affected the general solidarity of the band in any negative way. They seem as solid as they were in the beginning.
9. Love of Music. From the beginning, Hanson told us that they were not in this for the fame, the money, or the girls. They're in this for the music. So even if the fame dims and the money isn't quite as good as it once was, I can't imagine that Hanson will be looking for greener pastures outside of the music industry. Hanson's love of music is made very obvious by their continuing desire to learn more about it. They learn to play new instruments, they journey to France to study songwriting, and they learn by working with every musician with whom they cross paths. Their passion for music is evident when they appear on TV shows like VH1's "The List", when they annoy interviewers by insisting upon talking about MUSIC rather than about hair and girlfriends, and even in the topics that they choose to post in FUTY and Hanson Asks.
How many major artists choose to leave the security of a major label and invest their own money and hard work in order to put out their albums and tour the way they want to? Besides Hanson, I would think there are not many!
8. Tenacity Hanson are a band that just won't give up. If you need evidence of this, look at their June 16, 2000 appearance at the DJX Birthday Bash in Louisville, KY. When their plane from Chicago was grounded due to poor weather conditions, they didn't phone in their regrets from the airport. Instead, obviously thinking of the fans who had bought a ticket to the show hoping to see Hanson, they chartered a bus to Louisville. Arriving at the venue within minutes of their scheduled performance time, they still managed to put on a dynamic and fully satisfying show.
Countless artists have cancelled or postponed shows due to illness this year. Hanson have never done that. Fans commented that Taylor seemed to be ill, sometimes even feverish, in Australia and Japan, but the band performed dynamite shows despite it.
When their label tried to convince them, for over a year, that the type of music they were writing was not marketable, Hanson never relented. They never changed their music. Instead, they left their label.
7. Courage. During their first world tour, Hanson joined Blues Traveler onstage for a rendition of "MMMBop" at the H.O.R.D.E. Festival. At the time they had to have had some idea of just how difficult this audience was going to be. They must have been prepared for the boos and the jeers that did indeed greet their introduction. The tough audience did not phase them, and they held their ground onstage until the song was over and the formerly hostile crowd was now CHEERING for them!! That had to have been a stressful and difficult experience for the guys. Hanson were in no way required to entertain that audience. But, it was a new experience, and they were going to try it, even if there was going to be a certain amount of discomfort involved. The music industry is definitely not for the timid, and Hanson's courage and willingness to take risks will serve them well.
In 2004, after an attack on Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia caused many American artists to scrap plans to perform there, Hanson went ahead with their plans to perform in Jakarta. I believe they were the only American artist to do so. They have also had the courage to leave the safety of a major label for the uncertainty of starting their own label, something Isaac describes as being “not for the faint of heart.”
6. Inventiveness. If the path to the bathroom is blocked by nosy security guards, perhaps relief can be found on the roof. If the front door is being guarded by people who don't want to admit you to the party, maybe you can find an entrance through the window. If the radio won't play your songs, maybe the Internet can be used to give your music the exposure you need. Hanson are full of creative ways to accomplish their goals.
And what other bands have tried to get their message across by showing up on a college campus, performing an impromptu acoustic set, and speaking out about the music industry?
5. Integrity. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the music business, Hanson make the sort of music that they themselves would want to listen to. The music they play is meant not to appeal to a target audience or capitalize on a trend, but simply to be good music.
After an incident on Saturday Night Live made lip-synching into an issue, producers, record executives, and even artists came to the defense of singers who don’t sing live. Apparently it had “always been done”, and “really isn’t a big deal”. Taylor Hanson was one of the very few artists who actually denounced the practice, saying, “I just think it’s lowering the standard” and “It’s totally insulting to so much great music out there.”
4. Self-sufficiency. Hanson can do it all themselves. They have shown that they don't require elaborate sets, costumes, theatrics, or pyrotechnics to put on a rocking show. They don't need songwriters or celebrity producers to create a good album, either. Not that they should have to turn down a little help from Jonny Lang, John Popper, Matthew Sweet, or any number of other respected musicians who want to work with them. But with Hanson, the guest appearances and collaborations are the icing on the cake.
In fact, Hanson no longer require the help of a record label or a recording studio in getting their music out to their fans. They have built their own label and their own studio, and can operate both.
3. Attitude. Dissatisfaction and bitterness can be very destructive elements in an artist's life. From all reports, Hanson are remaining happy and optimistic during what has to be a difficult and frustrating time in their professional life.
Although we have all seen that Hanson suffered from their relationship with Island Def Jam, they have not become bitter or angry, just stronger and more determined than ever.
2. Dedicated Fanbase. Yes, we are fewer than we were in 1998. But, Hanson can still sell out an auditorium, at a time when many top names are playing small clubs. And Hanson fans can be incredibly loyal and passionate in their support of the band. We request their music, we vote for them in polls, we write to magazines and TV hosts. We don't let Hanson be ignored.
And now, many of us have been organized into a network of street teams, who care deeply about Hanson’s success and are willing to put forth effort to assure that success.
But these nine reasons would be all for nothing without the number one reason that I believe Hanson will succeed. That, of course, is...
1. Talent. Ric Ocasek said it best. "The Hansons are gonna be around. They're too talented to go away. It's in their hearts. They know what's going on. They know about music. They're great writers and phenomenal singers. They're just getting going. They're gonna be around."
Smart man, that Ric Ocasek!
I could give many, many more examples of artists and critics praising Hanson’s talent, but in this case, I think the music will always speak for itself.
Fischer, Blair R. “All Chaotic on the Hanson Front." Rolling Stone. July 13, 1999.
“What’s So Bad About Lip Synching?” CNN.com. November 5, 2004. http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/05/music.lip.synching.ap/index.html