By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
Contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate Hanson.
Sometimes I grow weary of dealing with the story — fielding
daily calls from an endless stream of pre-teen girls, foreign
journalists and creepy sycophants who think I have some inside
track on the personal habits, bodily markings and whereabouts of
the world's newest pop triumvirate. One guy even offered to snap
infra-red photos of the boys in their secret rehearsal spot. Yeesh.
Nobody really hates Hanson. Even the ghouls who create web pages
glamorizing fantasies about assaulting our cherubic idols don't
really hate them. Real hatred rarely inspires such tribute.
Cynics who naturally rail against anything that becomes hugely
popular can't hate them completely. The songs are too good, the
melodies are too sweet and Taylor has too much raw soul. I can't
tell you how many times such people — myself included — have
begun discussions of the pop trio by saying, “Well, I don't have
anything against their music, but ...''
But what? All other arguments are irrelevant. If you dislike a
group because of its look, you're shallow. If you dislike a group
simply because of its popularity, you have an inferiority complex
that should be dealt with. If you dislike a group because the
members' personalities chafe you, you're missing the point of pop
As Diana Hanson, the Hanson mom, told me early this year, “All
that stuff about what it was like for them to play Legos together
is diversionary. The music is what matters, and that story is out
Hanson's “Middle of Nowhere'' album was a triumph for pop
music. The melodies are catchy — resistance is futile — and the
words frequently nonsensical. It's bright, cheerful and completely
disposable. “MMMBop'' sounds great every time you hear it, even
after a hundred listens, and it demands nothing intellectual of
you. That's pop. It could be gone tomorrow, but it will have served
its purpose well.
For those reasons, I love the guys. I'm a power pop fanatic, and
this music fits into my personal groove. In my reporting and
criticism, I attempt to craft a more personal tone than your basic
national media outlet. In so doing, I often end up sounding more
snide than is warranted.
The last thing I want to become is part of the Tulsa music
scene's problem. Tulsa's scene suffers mostly because area media --
and fans — consistently disrespect their own. I have infinite
respect for what these boys have achieved this year, and I hope
others join me, regardless of musical tastes, in puffing with just
a bit of pride in our hometown sons' accomplishments. Perhaps we
could do the same for numerous other impressive musicians in our
talent-packed local scene.
Of course, there's the rub: Hanson may have been born and
home-schooled within our city limits, but they are hardly a product
of the local music scene. The 300-plus local gigs Hanson publicists
love to tell you about likely were as much as 95 percent private
functions — not exactly dues-paying circumstances. They made
virtually no effort to test their mettle in the Tulsa marketplace,
where clubgoers choose to pay for the performance.
In the end, bypassing that probably helped Hanson succeed better
than anything. After all, Leon Russell — previously Tulsa's most
famous rock 'n' roll product — usually charges a greater fee when
he plays Tulsa. Why? Because the audiences here aren't as big, and
they don't respect him. Had Hanson suffered in the local concert
scene, Mercury Records might not have mustered the confidence to
support the boys as heartily as they did.
Therein lies my only valid gripe against the group: since the
album hit, Tulsans have not seen hide nor hair of the boys. They
have completely ignored their hometown fans. They even canceled
their scheduled appearance at Tulsa's centennial homecoming
celebration in September — a bad PR move that only made their
heads look larger from the perspective of us little people back
home in Green Country. Then again, maybe this is why Tulsa fans are
so punchy; if we do help someone reach stardom,
we'll probably never see them again.
It's something to think about the next time someone complains
about Tulsa's dearth of culture and fame. Suggest that next weekend
they blow their movie-rental bucks on a cheap cover charge at a
local club. Hear some music. Socialize instead of retreat. See what
And thank you for your support.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.