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HANSON
Hanson tops global action charts
Jon Hicks, Senior Staff Photographer
Published On: 10/13/2008

Bono, lead singer of the band U2, called Hanson’s music “genius” and New York’s Village Voice calls them, “The finest straight-up rock band in America.”

That might be debatable, but what isn’t as debatable is the U2-like charity work that Hanson is putting on in cities such as Birmingham for AIDS and poverty stricken villages in Africa.

“It’s not an awareness walk or about being aware, since I believe we are all aware of the struggles in Africa. This is a call to action. This is an action walk,” Taylor Hanson said to a large gathering of fans under a tree off University Boulevard in the afternoon rain during their barefoot 1-mile walk in Southside to help fight AIDS and poverty in Africa.
Hanson, the American band best known for their massively successful song “Mmm, Bop!” not only has matured over the last 10 years with their musical talents, but also with their goals.

One goal appears to be using their Beatles-influenced, and more recently funk-infused music and fan base to promote as much change as they can.

In keeping with the pre-show charity and action initiative the band has done in every city on their world tour, Hanson brought “The Walk,” their 1-mile action event, to Birmingham before they put on a jam-packed scream-fest at WorkPlay Theatre.

Inspired by their trips to various parts of Africa that are struggling with AIDS and poverty, specifically South Africa and Mozambique, Hanson — like many other musicians and celebrities — feels passionate about assisting impoverished villages by providing them with shoes, fresh water, medicine, and care.

“Each mile shows the power of simple actions to make a difference — the real impact comes when participants see how much more they can do,” Zac Hanson said.

For every mile toward the 24,902-mile goal walked by fans, Hanson donates a dollar to five different causes that help the villages they visited. Clean water, shoes, building school facilities, providing access to health care, and supporting AIDS research and treatment are the five main focuses.

Another focus, of course, is the music, and Hanson’s sound has grown since their “Mmm, Bop!” days. Their newer songs are much more layered and textured, and not as hit-or-miss on the ears.

Even the revised and re-recorded songs like “Mmm, Bop!” sound funkier and heavier.

It’s not Soundgarden or even Paramore, but it’s not as pop oriented as the Jonas Brothers, who seem to reference Hanson (for good or bad) in their song “That’s Just the Way We Roll.”

Compared to bands like the Jonas Brothers, Hanson appears more comfortable in their own musical skin. Instead of references to catchy and popularized elements found in most current radio friendly music, they sound mature.

A closer listen might even have Maroon 5 vocals and melodies come to mind as many of the new Hanson songs on their album titled “The Walk” sound like Maroon 5 funk rock and quasi-pop tunes. Specifically songs like “Been There Before,” “Something Going Round,” and “Tearing it Down” have a very similar sound.

From the appearance of their live show at WorkPlay, which featured the band members switching instruments for different musical arrangements, Hanson can’t be flagged for having a bad live show.

They cater to the fans during their performance, and that’s always a plus. Though they might not be original in much of their delivery of some songs, they clearly excel at presenting the best possible versions of their songs live.

Of course, the biggest and most positive reaction at their live show came when the band played their “Mmm, Bop!” hit, a testament to the song’s longevity, and similar to one of those Bee Gees songs our parents remember.