Hanson mmmbops on

By Jessica Hester

It wasn’t until I went to college that my 12-year-old self finally saw her fantasy come to fruition. It was a long time coming and deliciously worth the wait.

The object of my truest and most enduring affection has been a long-kept secret. It turns out that I’m not the only one. Last Sunday, I rushed the House of Blues stage with hundreds of my kind: women vying for Taylor Hanson. Ten years after they first flipped their luxurious locks and MMMBopped their way to boy band mega-stardom, the Hanson boys can still draw a crowd.

Such a crowd, in fact, that I almost didn’t get in. I had to prowl up and down the line at the door, stalking the most sheepish first. Someone had to have an extra ticket, but if they didn’t, maybe I could harass them for liking the band, and they’d be so embarrassed that they’d sell me their ticket and go home. They didn’t. We Hanson fans don’t break that easily. We’re also far craftier than I thought. It turns out that there is an extensive black market for Hanson tickets that is fully documented on the forum at Hanson.net. (Yes, there’s a forum. It’s a hostile world out there, and we have to stick together.) A friend of a friend knew someone whose cousin was selling tickets on eBay for twice the market value. You can’t put a price on true love. I bought one.

By day, Hanson fans fly under the radar. We lead normal lives. We go to school, we have jobs, and we even manage to have romantic relationships with people not in Hanson. But put us in a room with each other and the band and absolute madness ensues. It wasn’t until two days after the show that I could hear out of my left ear again.

It’s a strange thing, being a superfan. Hyperventilating and singing along to songs whose lyrics are composed mostly of nonsensical syllables, I realized that a lot has changed since I was nine years old. Taylor Hanson finally has facial hair, and I’ve grown up a lot, too. I think I have no choice but to be a Hanson “lifer.” We’ve grown up together. Their voices got deeper and I got braces, and now we’re both starting to settle into the adults we’ll become. The Walk, the new album Hanson released in July, is an affirmation of maturity (sophisticated guitar work, innovative mixing, and real words this time). Check out “Georgia,” “Been There Before,” or “Great Divide,” proceeds from which are donated to AIDS charities in Africa.

I never saw a Hanson concert in their prepubescent heyday. For me, seeing the concert at age 19 was a way to recapture that innocent, pure, borderline insane adoration I felt 10 years ago. I had forgotten some things. For one, boy-band fans are totally nuts: I met a girl at the concert who is a student at a small college in Wisconsin and has been following the tour for the past month. Secondly, I had forgotten how amazingly liberating it is to love something fearlessly and with all of your heart. Loving a song is an incredible feeling. Loving a song that you grew up with is even better. Every time I hear one of their songs, I think of the other times I have heard it—where I was, what I was doing, and what I was passionate about. It reminds me of the height chart my mom made for my brother and me on the landing leading down to the basement. To this day, whenever I pass it, I look to see how much I’ve grown.

I’m not ashamed to be a Hanson fan. I will concede that some of their early songs are, in hindsight, perhaps not as brilliant as I was convinced that they were 10 years ago. Still, I maintain that the new stuff is legitimately good music. Moreover, Taylor is still the dreamiest thing with a microphone.