Hanson were abysmally young when “Mmmbop” became a commercial success. I was 9 then. Zac was 12. Taylor was 14. Isaac was 17. I had no idea what the song was about, but I sang it anyway. Rather, I listened to “Middle of Nowhere” as much as I could after school on my grandpa’s CD player. I loved Hanson the way pre-teen girls in 1990 loved Michael Jackson – in a boundless, exalting fashion. It was the only way to love anything or anyone who wasn’t related to you.
Today, on a Monday like any other, I realised this convivial tune is about birth, death, and the seconds in between.
I have always treasured Hanson in the same way a girl might with an old childhood friend: she’s always there when you need her. This year, I discover that they’re releasing a new album in June. Better yet, they’re going on tour. And better yet, I might actually get to see them! For the first time in my life! They came to Kuala Lumpur once when I was 13. I was big My friend Sara suddenly called me and asked if I could head out to see them at Hard Rock Cafe. It was 9.30 on a Tuesday night. Naturally, I could not go. She was terribly kind; the next morning, she gave me a guitar pick Zac tossed into the crowd. I still have it.
And in an mmmbop, I’m almost a quarter of a century old. To have such wisdom to sing about the transience of time at such a young age. It’s literally the second law of thermodynamics: in an isolated system, entropy only increases with time. There is no going back.
With music, I like to believe time travel is an option. An audible memory, unlike glass, is non-fragile. With every watershed moment in our lives, there is a song that we associate with. Everyone has a song that makes their heart stand still for a second. Every tear, every laugh, every shenanigan, every year in our short lives has one song playing in the background.
It amazes me how one band has stuck with me through the years. While everyone looks back and recounts memories of mmmbop, every album has become part of my natural surround sound. Just today, I became emotional while thumbing through Taylor Hanson’s Instagram account. I wonder how I’ll react when I see them live. I will sleep now and hopefully tonight I will dream of more pleasant things.