10. “Weird” – The acclaimed song “Weird” rounds out Middle of Nowhere, making it sound less like a children’s album and more like the promise of great things to come from an amazingly talented band. “Weird” has the best lyrics on the album, offering a look into what it’s like to
feel different when everyone else seems normal. “When you live in a cookie-cutter world/Being different is a sin/You don’t stand out/But you don’t fit in/Weird.” The simplicity of the song is its best quality: anyone and everyone can identify with the sweet, sad ballad.
09.”This Time Around” – “This Time Around” is a fast-paced, piano-driven work of art, and the third song on the album that shares its title. Describing the trials of someone during war time, the song could easily be a depressing look into the meaning of sacrifice. However, although the lyrics are heavy, the mood of the song is uplifting and makes anyone listening want to sing along. Building to an easily-repeatable chorus, this song is especially great live. To see this song performed at a Hanson concert is to attend a performance like no other.
08. “Underneath” – “Underneath,” the title track of Hanson’s most recent album, allows for a moment of introspection on the part of the band. A painful, beautiful piano ballad, “Underneath” paints the feeling of loneliness while still being with someone else. The canvas begins with the stroke of the soft piano keys and builds to a climax of colors with an amazing string orchestra. A guitar solo seals the deal with it simplicity, appropriately coalescing into the next verse with the strings and passionate vocals. A true masterpiece, the title track of the CD deserves its place of high status.
07. “I Will Come to You” – A mesmerizing harmony of piano and violin, “I Will Come to You” is a strong contender on the Middle of Nowhere album. A little lyrically lacking (the guys were only children when they wrote the song), the gorgeous music behind the words makes up for whatever little depth from which the song may have otherwise suffered. Haunting vocal harmonies, a staple of Hanson’s music, give the tune an ethereal feel, while the string section gives the piece a grown-up mood, competing with “Weird” for the title of Most Adult Song on the album.
06. “Crazy Beautiful” – “Crazy Beautiful” is one of the most musically impressive songs Hanson has ever written. With gorgeous piano and accompanying violin, as well as passionate vocals that seem to shake the walls, the song is a masterpiece in and of itself. Whether performed live with only a piano or played as a more electric version on Underneath, “Crazy Beautiful” cannot be missed. It is an uncommon style and atypical of many of the brothers’ songs, particularly setting itself apart from the rest of the songs on Underneath.
05. “Believe” – Perhaps the primary testament to Hanson’s lyrical talent, “Believe is one of Hanson’s deepest songs. While slow in parts, “Believe” makes up for what it may lack musically with amazingly poetic lyrics and a surprising sensibility: “Murder wears a friendly smile/Like the perfect end in a plastic vial/No pain.” Who would have thought that the happy-go-lucky trio who seemed to do nothing but smile at the height of their fame could have such destructive and saddening thoughts? While depressing, it merely lends itself to the fact that the brothers are only human, too.
04. “Madeline” – Easily the best song from their most well-known album Middle of Nowhere, “Madeline” is a peek inside what was to come as the band grew older. While not lyrically amazing, the song has an impossibly catchy but unique tune that is difficult to discredit. A much more organic song, “Madeline” sounds particularly great played acoustically. It also has an incredibly catchy, repeatable chorus: “Oh, my, Madeline/Here we go ’round again/You know it/I know it/Don’t try to pretend/You know it could be so much better than it’s been/Here we go ’round again.”
03. “Strong Enough to Break” – Taking the opportunity to prove their acoustic chops, Hanson hits it out of the park with the first song off the album Underneath. “Strong Enough to Break”‘s quiet strength is evidenced in the lyrics: “I don’t feel myself today/Just a figure in a big Monopoly game/Struggle is the price you pay/You get just enough just to give it away/I’m sinking but I’m floating away/Throw me a line so I can anchor my pain/The fabric is about to fray.” The song poses as the stand Hanson takes against the corporate influence of the music industry. “Strong Enough to Break” is, in fact, the song after which they named the documentary that chronicled their struggles with their former record label. It is a brave anthem that stands alone both musically and in its message.
02. “Runaway Run” – “Runaway Run,” off of This Time Around, is a more up-tempo, catchy song by the band known for nothing but. However, this song sets itself apart from the rest with its slow buildup to the climax of the song. The simple chord structure lends itself nicely to the incorporation of violins later in the tune, with sweet lyrics that accompany the music like a lovable sidekick. All in all, it’s definitely one to sing to in the car, and the bridge is the sweetest tear-jerker of all time.
01. “A Song to Sing” – The piano intro on this surprise ballad from the This Time Around album is breathtaking yet simple; the melody slow and easy. The song is a heart-wrenching look into the heart of someone longing for a genuine friend, which is something to which most people could relate. Out of luck and short on trust, the passionate vocals make it easy to believe that the brothers are no stranger to pain. The lyrics are deceptively deep and woefully truthful. The song is best performed live, with an added verse usually only printed on the inside of the CD case: “Don’t wander through this glassy surface/Expecting to find more than me/For what am I without a purpose/But a lone mirage to see?” This verse is one of the pivotal lyrical excerpts for the potential Hanson doubter. Indeed, “Mmmbop” is nowhere on this top ten list. The band has so much more to offer both lyrically and melodically, and this song is the prime example of the talent that the guys have to offer.