Hanson & Me

I don't really remember a time before Hanson. Other things have come and gone, but there has always been Hanson.

In the middle of 1997 I was seven years old, and the ubiquitous summer smash 'MMMBop', by three little brothers from Tulsa, permeated my delicate young brain as much as it did everyone else's, and stayed there ever since.

The next time they crossed my path was a few years later, when they released the single 'Penny & Me'. I vaguely remember seeing them perform on something like Top of the Pops and being very pleasantly surprised to see them again as semi-grownups making exciting, driving pop music (and, let's be real, they were super cute). I really liked 'Penny & Me', with its video featuring The OC star Samaire Armstrong and its wonderfully fun harmonies and incomprehensible lyrics. This was a sort of lovely time in my life in general (looking back with rose-tinted glasses past the divorcing parents and nonexistent social life, I suppose) filled with Saturday morning telly, and pop music, and 'Penny & Me' fitted in perfectly. It was slightly before the advent of mp3 players - in my life at least - so if I liked a song well enough to want to hear it a lot, I'd have to toddle down to the Virgin Megastore in town and buy the whole album on CD. Even though their second single that year, 'Lost Without Each Other', was - and is - a massive banger, I never quite reached the point where I made that investment into the full album. I was 14, money was tight, and Avril Lavigne had a new album out, what was I supposed to do?

When I finally did get a brand new shiny green iPod Mini a couple of years later, 'Penny & Me' was one of the first songs I downloaded. The magic of never ever deleting an email lets me know that I added 'Penny & Me' to an iTunes playlist in January 2006, which is kind of loopy to think about because according to the narrative I have sort of agreed with myself, my true Hanson story begins much later.

(Incidentally, when I got my first car many years later, it was nicknamed 'Penny' because of the lyric "Penny and me used to roll the windows down, turn the radio up and push the pedal to the ground". I still think this is hilarious.)

But anyway, I had 'Penny & Me' and 'MMMBop' on regular rotation in my 'upbeat' playlists for years, but never really ventured much further into Planet Hanson (which, as far as I'm aware, no-one calls it...) until the summer of 2010.

I was hanging out with my lovely housemate, sitting at her desk, when I glanced at iTunes open on her laptop.

"Why do you have like a hundred songs by Hanson, when everybody knows they have precisely two hits?"

It turned out that my friend (somehow unbeknownst to me until this point) had been a bit of a Hanson superfan, with a home-made t-shirt, albums, documentary on VHS, the works. While I'd been in East Anglia, obliviously wearing out my S Club 7 and Westlife CDs, she had been in the South West religiously listening to Middle of Nowhere.

That surprising discovery was the beginning of a highly enjoyable time in my life, when I fell down the rabbit hole of their very extensive back catalogue. I spent that summer acquiring as many of their songs as I could, scouring eBay for back copies of their older albums and downloading the ones I couldn't find. I loved pretty much everything I heard.

My final year of university was set to a soundtrack of all Hanson, all the time. Finally, it was announced that they would be performing in the UK for the first time since I had rediscovered them. They were bringing their '5 of 5' show, where they performed each of their 5 non-Christmas studio albums in full over 5 nights, to London, in June 2011. We excitedly tried to book tickets for the first night (Middle of Nowhere, aka the 'MMMBop' album), but it sold out before we could get any, so plumped for night 2, This Time Around, instead. And that's how it came to pass that the first time I saw Hanson perform live, I did so knowing for a fact that they weren't going to play 'MMMBop'.

Since that fateful (and hugely exciting) summer evening, I have seen Hanson perform a further 6 times, notably including one glorious week in 2013 where I basically followed them around the country, and just last weekend where me and my original Fanson friend went up to Manchester to see a show entirely comprised of songs from their two Christmas albums, 1997's Snowed In and 2017's Finally It's Christmas. She got married last year and we danced around the wedding reception to 'Lost Without Each Other'; it was a perfect moment in a wedding filled with perfect moments (until it was skipped in favour of Daft Punk because literally nobody else at the wedding knew the song - the perils of being a Hanson fan!).

Oh, and I nearly forgot the time I met them because I won a Meet and Greet through being a paid-up, card-carrying Fan Club Member! That happened approximately 2 hours before the second photograph below was taken. They signed my CD and Taylor wrote 'Thanx 4 being a fan', which I thought was very polite (but also ~edgy~).

I love Hanson's music with a love that is as sincere and earnest as the love they clearly put into everything they do. I am eternally grateful that I glanced up at my friend's laptop that day, and I can't imagine the last seven and half years without them. Here's to the next 25 years!

6th June 2011 5 of 5: This Time Around - KCLSU
Performing their second studio album This Time Around in full as part of their 5 of 5 concert event. A tiny venue, very excited fans, amazing music, totally surreal, totally wonderful. Despite no 'MMMBop' (which actually isn't even close to being their best song), I did get to see my all-time favourite Hanson song: 'If Only'.

29th November 2011 Shout It Out Tour - IndigO2, London
A show in support of their album Shout It Out, before which I got to meet them. I was in a group with fans who had come from Australia and Scotland just for the show, so my 45 minute train journey seemed a little bit weak by comparison! My main observation on meeting them is that they are taller than they look. And they're lovely, obviously.

2nd December 2013 Apple Store performance
I was idling on Twitter and saw an announcement about an instore performance they'd be doing the next day. I briefly thought "I really shouldn't, that would be mad, wouldn't it?" And then signed up, and went anyway, by myself. Woo!

5th December 2013 Anthem Tour - Ritz, Manchester
A show in support of their album Anthem, which is more rock-influenced, and details some existential struggles they had as a band. My little sister had just started studying at university in Manchester, so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to go and visit her, and take her to a show! She claims not to have been convinced, and that's okay. Not everybody can love everything... I suppose... My favourite song on Anthem, 'Lost Without You', was performed as a solo with just Taylor at the piano and I might have cried a little bit. My sister nabbed a setlist from the sound desk and framed it for me for that Christmas because, despite being unconvinced, she's still the best.

8th December 2013 Anthem Tour - IndigO2, London [no known photographs by me exist...]
Okay, so, obviously I had seen Hanson three days before, and three days before that. And the first one was quite spontaneous, and the second one was in Manchester because my sister was there. I was in my house in London on this day, gripped by the knowledge that Hanson would be playing a couple of miles away that night, and entirely unable to come up with a reason not to go (other than money). Me and my Hanson friend hadn't quite got around to organising a trip, and if we had, it would have been to this show, so I felt really guilty about the idea of going without her. Clearly not guilty enough, though, because I sheepishly jumped on the Tube, and rocked up to North Greenwich, inquired at the box office, got a ticket, stood at the back by myself and had a lovely time. This was a great week, and a great tour for a great album.

10th June 2017 Middle of Everywhere Tour - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
This. Was. The. Best. This tour was in celebration of 25 years since they started the band and 20 years since Middle of Nowhere. It was a greatest hits show in a lovely big venue, and I went with my friend again (finally!). They played all their best songs from across all their albums, and it was far and away the best concert - by anyone - I've ever been to. Everyone at a Hanson show in 2017 really wants to be there, and really knows Hanson, and it was an evening of pure joy. Ahh!

10th December 2017 Finally It's Christmas Tour - Ritz, Manchester
This honestly felt like we were just hanging out with Hanson and having Christmas fun. Perfection.



Total number of times I've used the word 'Hanson' in this post: 20 (admit it, that's less than you'd have thought!)

Comments

  1. This is so lovely! Not to mention I really enjoy your writing style, it's very clean and engaging and your love for them comes through so clearly. Brb checking out the rest of your blog because why haven't I done that yet???

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  2. HELLO I'm the person who wrote the Schitt's Creek fanfic poem Ellie sent you. She told me you loved it and then linked me to your posts on SC and Hadestown and now I'm stalking your blog! Yay! Incidentally I'm currently working on writing a show about 90s Girl Bands and Boy Bands and this post is actually quite useful, so turns out this is research, now! Thanks for that! Anyway I like your writing and we're friends now and I'm following you on Twitter when you make your return to the Hellsite. Toorah.

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