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So Out, They're In: Hanson

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There's been a lot of anxiety these days about the future of our nation: McCain vs. Obama, Jamie Lynn Spears vs. Bristol Palin, 90210 vs. 90210. They are each worthy, debatable battles, but there's one match-up that I've remained silent on for far too long. (I know what you're thinking: Christina Ricci Thin vs. Christina Ricci Curvy, but no! Not that one. But I choose curvy, if you're wondering. Who wouldn't?)

Anyway, the epic dual I'm referring to is a battle of the trifecta-brother-bands, Jonas vs. Hanson. Long-haired Girly Dudes vs. Long-haired Girly Dudes. Damn! That didn't work. Um, let's try 2008 vs. 1998, Grammy Nominations vs. Teen Choice Award Nominations, Critically Acclaimed vs. Dating Miley Cyrus. Even though the brothers, regardless of surname, all share an androgynous, hair-sprayed, high-voice cuteness, it's Hanson's music that will make you stop wondering if you're looking at boys or girls, and start wondering why you haven't listened to them before.

So by the power vested in me by the Style Section, I now pronounce Hanson so out that they're in-- any sooner and this proclamation might not have been recognized in California. Right on time.

Touring off and on for nearly a decade, Hanson started in 1997 with "MMMbop"-- a hit that was stuffed with catchy guitar licks, sweet harmonies and unexpectedly astute lyrics that you can still hum to this day. They were "in" until the sugary market was saturated, and then quietly fell off the mainstream radar.

But flying not too far below the radar's scan, the boys have put out four studio albums, two of which I currently have on my iPod, with tracks loaded with soulful (yep, I said it) piano melodies, bouncy beats, and an infectious, undeniable energy. That Mary-Kate Olsen, I mean Taylor Hanson, can really belt out a song. "The Walk," their latest album released last year, received unanimous critical acclaim--U2's Bono even went so far as to call the work "genius." They're 2004 release, "Underneath" reached No. 1 on Billboards Top Independent Album chart, and No. 25 on The Billboard 200. If you thought those Mmmboppers were dying slow deaths in Tulsa, cashing their royalty checks to buy Wild Turkey, you were clearly wrong.

Not only do they sing, they donate, too. Before each show, the brothers Hanson walk a barefoot mile in each city on tour to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa-- there's a shoe-drive at each concert, as well. Fans get the chance to walk next to the brothers, which is more than the Jonas brothers can say, and can watch free podcasts documenting the making of their albums. Such dirty feet! Such gritty video stream! Such access!

So I think it's time that Hanson got the attention they deserve. Go ahead, don't be shy, give them a listen. If you need more coaxing, here's a Hanson anecdote: At a dinner party I recently threw (read: pizza sitting on my floor watching tennis on mute), a Hanson song came on my iPod mix. The biggest music snob I know asked, "Is this some old Eagles record?" Game, set, match, Hanson.