By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings
The late 1990s were great times. I was doing my GCSEs, didn’t have to work yet and still had aspirations.
The mornings of these years, specifically in 1997, were started with a dose of the Big Breakfast television show in which the superb Kelly Brook who every day seemed to fend off the unwanted sexual attention of her co-host Johnny Vaughan, a man a few years away from joining the bald community, struggling with the weight of his own chin. She had the teets and pins that would make her a future global superstar for doing nothing of worth whatsoever, and at the time, Hanson were launched on the UK like three mini Christs, taking the charts by storm with their splendid hit single ‘MmmBop’.
Hanson really were a big deal, so much so that Canada even spawned a rip-off group with the terrible Moffats. Suddenly pubescent white males that sang and played their own instruments were ‘in’, and ‘MmmBop’ turned out to be one of the finest songs of the decade to break big. Joyful, incomprehensible, rocking, it featured on the 1997 album ‘Middle of Nowhere’ which sadly wasn’t great. Also, in asking the listener to tell them who is still gay, it was quite edgy, lyrics-wise. I wonder if the phrase mmmbop itself was some kind of allusion to anal sex, but I digress slightly.
To capitalise on their instant fame, ‘Snowed In’ was hastily recorded in London and released in the same year. Featuring fourty minutes of terrible music, it was a novelty Christmas album, arguably the lowest of the low in the pop industry that few artists or bands have ever stooped low enough to put out.
‘Snowed In’ is one of the worst albums ever made, whatever the time of year. Featuring a mixture of awful cover versions and original material, it exists solely to suck the life out of any festivities that may be happening in December in the western world.
‘Merry Christmas Baby’ kicks things off, plagarising Deep Purple’s majestic ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’ along the way, a fatal error from the off. The only other notable riff is in the bog standard ‘Everybody Knows The Clause’ which is ok, at least by Hanson’s generally low standards.
Pretty much as soon as this record starts, all hell breaks loose, and not in a ‘Reign in Blood’ by Slayer kind of way. Ironic really for a band with a militant Christian upbringing.
‘Snowed In’ is a mixture of Hanson’s own inept compositions and woefully ill-judged cover versions of famous yuletide hits such as ‘Rockin Around The Christmas Tree’. The former are so wet and miserable it’s a wonder they weren’t featured on an episode of Eastenders, and the latter so over the top and overly serious that there is no enjoyment to be had from them whatsoever.
Christmas, for most of us, is really about kicking back, watching some crap TV shows, getting some nice swag or cash and eating life-threatening amounts of food. When the classic Christmas songs start coming on the radio, those off us that got an education and don’t have to do shift work know that the countdown to the cash and calories has begun. Everyone including the original artists sort of know their December hits are a bit crap, but it’s part of a nice tradition now. The point is, they do not take themselves or their seasonal music seriously.
Hanson made this mistake, which leaves ‘Snowed In’ with no redeeming features whatsoever. Listening to it from beginning to end, as I’ve had to to write this article, was one of the most gruelling musical experiences I can remember. The music itself is terrible, but perhaps even worse, tonally wrong for the subject matter. It’s three young longhairs playing music more suited to men three times their ages. It’s crap.
The world of mainstream pop music in the noughties remained Hanson-free; I blame ‘Snowed In’. Maybe if they had waited at least another year or so after releasing the poor but cherished ‘Middle of Nowhere’, and followed up with a better album that was at least still cool from the perspective of teen girls, Hanson would have enjoyed a more substantial, longer-lasting career.