Riding tight, three-part harmonies and songs inspired by classic late 1950s rock and roll, Motown, and 1960s R & B, Hanson became Oklahoma's biggest pop stars of the 1990s, Garth Brooks not included. Clarke Isaac Hanson (known as Isaac, born on November 17, 1980) and Jordan Taylor Hanson (known as Taylor, born on March 14, 1983) were born in Tulsa to musical parents, Walker and Diana Hanson, who met when they attended Nathan Hale High School, Zachary Walker Hanson (known as Zack, born on October 22, 1985) was born in Arlington, Virginia.
The group rocketed to the top of the international pop music charts in 1997 with their Number One smash "MMMBop," from the Grammy-nominated album Middle of Nowhere that reached Number Two on the Billboard album charts. The song was one of the biggest debut singles of all time, streaking to Number One on the Billboard US Hot 100, and hitting Number One in twenty-seven countries. As of 2017 the official video for the song had more than fifty-one million views on youtube.com, the popular online video service.
Hanson's breakthrough sound featured well-blended harmonies, while their melodic sense easily channeled Motown without sounding too derivative. In contrast to many pre-manufactured teen pop stars, they can play their instruments, and are indeed a band, which allows them create, record, and tour behind music they are able to replicate as a group. Their musically inclined parents provided a nurturing environment for the supportive production of music by the gifted, if not prodigious, young musicians. The three brothers projected a carefree, happy-just-being-alive teen image when they first emerged, but they have transformed from one-major-hit artists into mature music business people in control of their own product and industry destiny.
The group has maintained their career by marshalling the power of the Internet to interact directly with their fans worldwide and by marketing themselves exclusively through their own management of a label to release their music and videos. Because their fans matured with the evolving communication and music distribution technologies, Hanson has had significant internet sales success. The frenetic pace of Hanson's life and the way in which their fans reacted to them is well documented in Tulsa, Tokyo and The Middle of Nowhere (Polygram Video, 1997), which became the Number One Music Video in the United States.
Hanson had continued success in the late 1990s. The group had the number one Holiday Album of 1997, Snowed In. In 1998 Hanson was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Pop Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal, and Best New Artist. Mercury Records released a concert recording, Live from Albertane, which had a decent showing of Number 32 on the album chart in November 1998, but the concert video notched the group another Number One on the Billboard Top Music Video charts.
In the next century, the band released This Time Around in 2000, reaching Number 3 on the Billboard Top Internet Album chart, which had been created to track sales from online retailers. In 2001 Hanson released another concert recording, At the Fillmore, before leaving Island/Def Jam and forming their own label, 3CG Records, to release Underneath in 2004. A game-changer in many ways, Underneath, hit Number One on Billboard's Independent Album Chart, as well as Number Two on the Top Internet Album chart, making it one of the most successful self-released albums of all time. Hanson continued recording and performing into 2017, as well as releasing a craft beer, Mmmhops.
Hugh W. Foley, Jr., Oklahoma Music Guide II (Stillwater, Okla.: New Forums Press, 2013).
Jarrod Gollihare, Hanson: The Official Book (New York: Billboard Books, 1997).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Hugh W. Foley, Jr., “Hanson,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=HA064.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.