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15 years ago I was 10 years old and oblivious to what music really was. I mean I had listened to the radio which my mum played day, but it never really held my interest. It was just something in the background.
Then whilst at my grandma's one day in 1997, Top of the Pops was on TV and we all gathered round to watch the weekly round-up of the charts. And that's when I discovered Hanson. 3 long, blonde-haired lads, quite literally bopping about behind their instruments to their Number 1 achievement that was 'Mmmbop'. After that music changed me and for Christmas I opened up a present from my parents which was their debut album 'Middle of Nowhere'. And boy, from that moment on, the way I viewed music was never the same again!
Now, I am all too aware of the way in which Mmmbop as a song stuck with Hanson. It ultimately gave a rather naive and closed image of 'a boy band with pop songs'. Yes, they were boys in a band, they did have pop songs, but not in the cliche, stereotypical way. These lads (Isaac, Taylor and Zac - all brothers), played their own instruments and wrote all their own songs - lyrics which touched on topics so mature for their age, it made me think just how talented they were to produce such well thought out songs with catchy and successful melodies.
And while most people will only ever remember them for MMMBop, the rest of the songs on the album 'Middle of Nowhere' really are the missing pieces of an amazing musical journey, which touches on subjects such as losing loved ones, relationship troubles, loyalty, buildings friendships, losing friendships, and even focussing on the smaller aspects of life that we often overlook. And this is the reason why such an album was a turning point for me. It opened up my eyes to the bigger world and to what music was really about.
So let's have a look at the tracks on the album....
1. Thinking of You
This little opener begins with a piano introduction which I'm sure every single fan of this band will recognise within the first 2 notes being played. Taylor (the middle brother, now 29) sings lead on this song, and its a neutral introduction which is sweet and catchy. The middle section really builds up on the song and overall its about exactly what is says 'Thinking of You.' It's a nice lead in to the next song....
The debut single and one which gave the Hanson brothers their 13 weeks at the Number 1 spot in the UK. This song, sings about 'Mmmbop'. 'Well what's an Mmmbop'?? well an Mmmbop is a moment in time (according to Hanson), a moment in time that's so small, it's gone before you know it. The song is an uplifting statement on life. 'Hold on to the ones who really care, cos in the end they'll be the only ones there,' 'plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose, you can plant any one of those, keep planting to find out which one grows, it's a secret no-one knows.' One feels that in a way, the message is to hold on to the important things in life, dont dwell on things you don't have, and appreciate what you do have.
The album becomes a bit more mellow at this point, and 'Weird' is about not fitting in and being an outsider. This was the 3rd single off the album. At one point or many, we all might feel like we don't fit in. But the fact is that we dont! We're all different and being weird is actually not such a bad thing after all. I think the video for the song makes a point that all our individual isolated feelings are a collective thing, however the song seems more focussed on the individual. In both ways it's genius.
A more, how shall I put it, 'agressive' song next. This one is about relationship troubles and finally confronting the person involved. It's a great song in which the words you can probably apply to a past experience of your own.
5. Where's The Love?
The second single released from the album, and what a corker! Even though it talks of too much take and not enough give (hence 'you dont mind the taking girl but you dont know how to give') and a relationship breaking down, the song remains quite an upbeat and positive song! And of course the 'round and round and round and round' bit just gets me every time!
Now for the 6th song on the album, we are diverted to totally different subject matter. Something more relative to the age of the boys. This song is about looking back at the school Yearbook and wondering about a boy called Johnny who mysteriously disappeared. Kind of ironic in a way, since the boys never went to school and were home-educated, but I am assuming that the song was a clever way to form a connection with fans of the same ages as themselves. Its a clever and powerful song which forms an interesting subject change midway through the album.
7. Look At You
Turning to the dancefloor now, is a funky track with some chunky style keyboards and bit of cheeky wording that is somewhat flirty, competitive and just plain fun! It has some fantastic melodies which lead into the chorus and this was probably one of my favourite songs from the album for a LONG TIME.
Back to relationships, the Hanson guys look at the breakup from the opposite side, in the way that they're singing about doing the breaking up this time. And they regret it. This is sung by the youngest brother Zac (10 at the time, now 26), and his vocals are fantastic in this song. They match perfectly with the overall meaning of the lyrics and the music.
9. I Will Come To You
The 4th single off the album and it's a sing out loud, pull your heart-strings song, which is almost choir-like during the middle 8. It's all about being there for somebody no matter what, whenever they need you for a shoulder to cry on or for support. I think the idea is help out your fellow men and show compassion even for people you dont know.
10. A Minute Without You
An upbeat and well thought out song, that's just pure romance right there! About missing the person you love, and they have it right down to a tee! 'When the minutes seem like hours and the hours seem like days, when a week goes by you know it takes my breath away, all the minutes in the world could never take your place, there's 1440 hours in my day.' Brilliant!
Something with a liiiiittle bit of cheesy funk pop in there. It's a cute song about rekindling a relationship, and though not one of my favourite songs, it is a good little tune!
12. With You In Your Dreams
This is the closing track to the album. A slow, gospel based song dedicated to their grandmother who passed away. It's a sad song, in which they sing out lyrics 'if I'm gone when you wake up, please don't cry, if I'm gone when you wake up, don't ask why.' I think this song acts as words of closure and comfort. A brilliant heartfelt song.
Bonus Track: Man From Milwaukee
A bonus track to finish off the album with something positive, completely random, a little bit crazy, but loveable!
Here, the Hanson lads sing about a weird crazy man from Milwaukee who they met at a bus stop in the 'Middle of Nowhere'. This guy has no hair, odd toes, likes to talk about the sky and where he comes from (Albertane) they like to run around in their underwear. All in all, this is a fun way to round off the album.
So there we have it, 'Middle of Nowhere', a brilliant album, which packs in love, friendship, betrayal, passing moments, aliens, missing that special someone as well as missing the most obscurest of events and people. This album is jam-packed with lyrics that could possibly be related to any aspect of life, and that's why I love it so much.
The kind of Music I listen to now is for the most part completely different than What I listened to growing up with a few exceptions and one of the albums I still Listen to now is by three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, These brothers go by the names Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson. The brothers started singing acapella in 1992 and then after learning instruments they recorded their first album in 1995 "Boomerang" was independently released. At the time they were 14, 12 and 9 years of age respectively. In 1997 their big break came when they put out their first major label release which they had recorded already in 1995-1996.
# Zachary Hanson - drums, backing vocals, lead vocals
# Taylor Hanson - keyboards, lead vocals
# Isaac Hanson - guitar, backing vocals
**Middle Of Nowhere**
This album featured five hit singles and went on to sell over 10m copies. It was Produced by Stephen Lironi and The Dust Brothers who had most notably worked with The Beastie Boys amongst others. All songs on "Middle Of Nowhere" were written by the Hanson brothers with several other songwriters credited. The sound quality was notably better on this album compared to their independently released albums.
1.) Thinking of You
This is the opening track on the album and shows exactly what their Music was all about. Simple catchy chords and percussion mixed with melodic vocal harmonies. Taylor is the lead singer and shows himself to be a confident vocalist at 15. This track is about thinking about someone special to you. On this track they show their more than capable musicianship.
This was a huge single when released and it's not that hard to understand why. An infectiously catchy pop rock track with some fine emotive harmonies and a sound with some real pep. This track deals with breakups in friendships and relationships in a simple way and it's just a great pop song.
Next up is the Desmond Child co penned ballad. This is a lovely laid back track, It shows their talent in songwriting, musicianship and vocal emotiveness. This is a very impressive track for a band so young. A very impressive track indeed.
This track was co written with Producer Steven Lironi and is an uptempo rock track which shows their talent as musicians in another arena. This track shows a nice change from the slower tracks on the album and shows their range as a band. A decent track which has some great moments.
5.) Where's the Love
I remember singing this song out loud in the late nineties. This track opens with a fantastic melody thanks to the uptempo guitar and drums. Taylor shows off his fast vocal delivery to great effect, This is just a great pop song. There's even a Beach Boys like Vocal Harmony from the brothers. A great up tempo toe tapper.
This is a dark ballad which opens with some lovely piano and then the dark drums kick in. This is a brilliant song about looking back at The School Yearbook and remembering students who went missing. An interesting topic which is very well done here. A very grown up song which belies their age.
7.) Look at You
This is a great slice of up tempo rock funk. The Dust Brothers do a great job on this one and this is a very flowing track which is another toe tapper. This has a great chorus and some great moments. Listening yo this you would not expect them to be as young as they were. A very impressive track.
This is a Beatlesesque ballad about a girl named Lucy, Lead vocals come from the youngest member of the group in Zac who shows off a very strong falsetto backed by the lovely Beach Boys like vocal harmonies. This is a beautiful song about a broken friendship which we've all had. A lovely track.
9.) I Will come to you
If anyone was in doubt whether they had more talent than their age would suggest then this is a wonderful example of their talent. This is a terrific ballad which is about being there for someone you love when they need you. This track progresses superbly and is one of the tracks of the album. Iconic.
10.) A Minute without you
This track has a more indie rock style, It's lead vocals are performed by Isaac Hanson. This is another impressive up tempo track. It is a great example of the way they work together as their vocals sound good together. Isaac is probably the weakest singer of the three but he can still sing well. A good track.
This is a catchy mid tempo track which has some simple guitar chords and some fine backing vocals from Zac. I really like the progression of this song towards the chorus which is impressive itself. Another very strong track which has the toe tapping again.
12.) With you in your dreams
This track opens with some nice keyboard tones and Taylor's vocals soon come in with a lovely emotive tone. This is a great track about being there for someone even though you are not there in person. Another track which progresses superbly. I really like the addition of the backing vocalists. An excellent song.
13.) Man from Milwaukee
This track actually appears on *21* due to being a bonus track. It was released on the CD Version only. This track opens with a catchy electric guitar melody. The brothers sing about a strange man from Milwaukee who is a little weird. An interesting subject done very well. A good end to the album.
When thinking about young artists who record in their mid teens or earlier you have to listen to more than just the voice to work out if they have "that talent". Well for me it's clear from the way these songs were crafted and performed that Hanson are very talented. Taylor shows an emotive quality which is rare at his age. He not only sings the lyrics but also puts the right emotion when required, Somewhere where a lot of other young singers fail. This is a fantastic album which really shows the great base of talent they had. This is an album that never gets old for me. Check out their more recent stuff.
The debut album from brotherly threepiece Hanson arrived in the summer of 1997 and was a breath of fresh air for the music industry. With their catchy melodies, innocent vocals and sheer air of excitement, thye captured the nations hearts and made a name for themselves overnight.
Brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac. Taylor did the lead vocals, Zac drummed and Issac played guitar and provided backing vocals.
On this album:
The monster number one 'MmmBop' surprised many people. You could be forgiven for thinking this was the Jackson 5 on a comeback. The vocals are pretty decent, youthful and delivered with a carefree abandon, yet tuneful and on the mark. The chorus is to die for. They followed this up with the powerful 'Where's The Love' which was more aggressive yet harmless enough to still appeal to the pop market.
The slower numbers are where the group shine though. 'I Will Come To You' is a stirring and emotive ballad which builds wonderfully to a great climax. Better still is 'Yearbook' which should have been a single. Superb vocals and a haunting finale to this make it possibly the finest moment on the album.
'Lucy' was not that good, failing to register with me. I couldn't sing it now.
Considering they wrote and played all their own stuff, you have to give them credit for that and a lot of tracks showed a maturity beyond their years. A surprisingly deft touch at lyric writing and a knack for mastering catchy melodies. Recommended.
I'll be the first to admit this isn't the sort of thing which would usually appeal to me, however Middle of Nowhere is a tremendously catchy, addictive and well constructed album with more than its fair share of top notch tracks.
The likes of (the number one single) Mmmbop might have the lyrical depth of a nursery rhyme, but in an odd sort of way its perfectly intentional, and the catchy melodic pop feel more than creates the atmosphere.
By far the best and deepest track on the album is the stunning Yearbook, which is a sanding tail of a disappeared friend, and is one of the handful of ballads on the album, all of which differ considerably and bring something new to the table each time.
The album also showcased a hat full of big hits, such as Where's The Love, which is another well produced pop/rocking anthem and the combination of such tracks placed next to the more sombre ballads works incredibly well.
Where have they gone. Rememer the young sound of these three boys a few years ago with their releasing single "MMM Bop". They seemed to have vanished. I thought that they were pretty cheesy in their day, however I brought their album. I was looking through my music collection not long ago, and saw it. I put it on and haven't stop listening since. It's youthfull sound is enough to make anyone smile. The young trio however have now grown up, Isaac now being 22, Taylor being 20 and remember the little anyoying drummer Zac he is now 17. To be fair they are still around but seem to be only touring America. They don't really need to keep in working now due to the amount they made off there singles and albums. Any way enough with that back to the album. It is a great combination of sentimental songs like "Lucy" and "I Will Come to you" and the more fun upeat songs such as "A minute without you" and "Look at You". I know for a lot of you it is one of those albums you have to hide from your mates. All I can say to you is Mellow out dude and listen to your own tastes and not other peoples. Lets put it this way I can happily sit back and listen to this and also sit back and listen to a "System of a down" or "50 cent album. This is an album that should be enjoyed by all. These are talented boys. What else can I say apart from go out and by it. You could probably get for a pretty cheap price nowadays as it is pretty old. Well enjoy the album.
This is Hanson's first commercial album (they previously recorded two indie albums: Boomerang, 1995 and Mmmbop, 1996) and I don't think anyone could be disappointed by this album. Of course it is very poppy, but at the same time strangly uplifting, launching into 'Thinking of You' which was a track the boys wrote in 20 minutes while jamming. Then we launched into 'Mmmbop' (Taylor's voice broke slightly between Thinking Of You and Mmmbop) and with its light poppy vibes you can't help but smile. 'Weird' is an excellent track, musically eerie and lyrically profound about todays world. 'Speechless' has a funky edge to it with bluesy guitars and Taylro sounding incredibly angry. 'Where's The Love' isn't one of the best tracks, a pop song desperately trying to be rocky but only half succeeding. 'Yearbook'is beautifully sung and played making you think about its subject (A missing teenager) 'Look At You' is another slice of disco funk, full of slightly aduly ennunendos but definitely one that gets your feet taping. 'Lucy' is sung by Zac and is a nice, mellow sing along that he is no doubt terribly embarrassed about now. 'I Will Come To You' is a balled that fits perfectly into the album with a beautiful string arrangement and heartfelt vocals. 'A Minute Without You' is Isaac's song! Rocky, solid with excellent drumming from our man Zac. 'Madeline' is amazing! Ripping bassline that sets the scene for Taylor and Ike's vocals to come in and sing about someone close to them leaving. 'With You In Your Dreams' Is about the boys late Grandmother and has a somewhat gospel fell to it with its 'Whoaahs' and the thumpping drums. The bonus track 'Man From Milwaukee' is worth the entire album. Raw, energitic, written by Zac and sung by him too, about an alien at a bus stop.. One of the best a
lbums in comptemporary America!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Thinking Of You
5 Where's The Love
6 Yearbook Song
7 Look At You
9 I Will Come To You
10 Minute Wthout You
12 With You In My Dreams
13 Man From Milwaukee