The most ubiquitous song during the summer of 1997 was the breakthrough hit “MMMBop” by the band Hanson. Yeah, we don’t know what it means either, but the sunny pop hit ruled the airwaves back then. The accomplishment is even more incredible when you consider that the performers weren’t old enough to shave. Or drive. Or have their braces off. Or ride a rollercoaster. The point is, they were really, really young.

Hanson consists of the three Hanson brothers—Isaac, Taylor and Zac—who were influenced early on (in their cradles, possibly) by the doo-wop sounds of the 50s and 60s. They got their start in South America, where the family lived for a while, then continued their musical pursuits after they returned to Oklahoma. The boys sang a capella before getting instruments from their parents who fully supported their sons’ musical aspirations. Hanson began to perform regularly, mostly oldies favorites like “Rockin’ Robin” and “Johnny B. Goode,” but self-penned tunes rounded out their repertoire. Their first professional performance took place in 1992 at an arts festival in Tulsa when Isaac, Taylor and Zac were 12, 9 and 7 years old, respectively. How Zac managed to keep control of the drumsticks when most kids his age couldn’t even hold on to a PB&J sandwich remains a mystery.

The garage band trio started recording songs independently and got the attention of a music executive at Mercury Records after their manager sent over a CD of their early recordings. The boys got a record contract and in 1997 released the mega hit “MMMBop.” Aided by plenty of radio airtime and a performance on The Late Show Starring David Letterman, the song reached #1. The same year saw the release of their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, featuring pop tracks similar to their hit single. The trio became super stars and their holiday album, Snowed In, went to the Top 10, as did the single “I Will Come To You.”

The boys were in high demand and kicked off a world tour in 1998, coupled with appearances on late-night talk shows. Their next album, Three Car Garage: The Indie Recordings, contained their early work and became another Top 10 hit. This Time Around followed and reached the Top 20, while Underneath topped the US Indie charts.

Hanson stood apart from the rash of boy bands that beset the 90s because they were an honest-to-goodness, homegrown garage band playing their own instruments and singing their own songs. Their influences were more classically rock n’ roll and soul than anything else; their live performances showed that they weren’t just pretty faces (although they were pretty faces). This young band achieved much in a short time and continues to record under their own record label and tour extensively around the world, still performing that earworm “MMMBop” for their many adoring fans. If you are familiar with the song, in fact, it is probably stuck in your head right now. You’re welcome.

If you were a fan of Hanson, maybe had a poster on your wall or knew all the words to “MMMBop,” we hope you’ll share your memories with us in our comments section below, as we tip our hats to this young band who certainly made their mark in the 90s.

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