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 music. 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 there.''
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 happens. And thank you for your support.