Rhythm & Views


In the eight years since three blonde boys from Tulsa sang "Mmmbop" and started a whole new chain of teen pop, the brothers Hanson have grown up a bit, cut their hair and--rather than becoming blonde poster boys of a major record company--maintained artistic control over their songs, independently releasing their third full-length record, Underneath.

Despite the artistic freedom, Hanson's music is still like a fine layer of soda spilled on the floor: sticky, sweet and annoying. Hanson's signature harmonies, vaguely reminiscent of the Jackson 5, are what power their commercial dramatics. All pop songs have what's called the "money note"--the moment when the song reaches its emotional climax, and the love of your life has just walked back in and said, "You had me at hello" or "I got off the plane." It's the universal distraction of modern entertainment--the shallow emotionalism that Aldous Huxley made so perverted in Brave New World--that fuels music like this, that makes you turn it up when you drive by a fatal car accident, or change the station when the news comes on. Why listen to bad news when you have songs like "Dancin' in the Wind"? It's like when a dog is bred too many times; after a while, the offspring are mentally retarded and peeing porcelain shells.

There are too many bands trying to recreate what every one else is trying to recreate. You can cut their hair and put red eye shadow on them, but underneath it all, clones are still genetically identical.