'MMMBop'-ed in the head Music: Hanson makes a young girl the envy, and enemy, of a tiny army.

November 21, 1997|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

There are thousands of young fans who would kill to have Thanksgiving with Hanson.

Nikole Rock is not one of them. But she got to have an early Thanksgiving with Hanson, two of her friends and her stepmother yesterday on 102.7 WXYV-FM's "Albie Dee in the Morning Show." The 14-year-old Ellicott City resident won a call-in radio contest.

"I'm not really obsessive, but I do like them," she says of the three brothers, who are the country's latest teenybopper music sensation. "I don't have pictures of anyone all over my room. I'm not a crazed fan of anyone."

Out of the more than 150 fans and parents who were gathering at WXYV in Reisterstown since before dawn yesterday, several are a tad militant both in their adoration for Hanson and disdain for Nikole.

"There is bitterness," says Katie Murphy, 14. "But I'm starting to get over it."

Katie, a Maryvale Prep School student from Reisterstown, is a little more restrained than some of her counterparts.

When Nikole arrives, some yell, "I hate you!" These kids are devoted to their treasured Hanson. They'll bribe you to get a moment with the group: Some offer friendship; others, money.

And it gets much worse than that.

"I'll split heads to meet them. You don't know what I'd do," says Kathy Owings, 13, an Annapolis resident. A Hanson T-shirt is slung over the Holy Trinity Middle School student's shoulder. "I've got my steel-toed boots on. I'm ready to go."

Good thing Kathy doesn't know that Nikole's friend, Rosana Drake, who will also meet the group, doesn't even know all the Hanson brothers' names.

Apparently these violent tendencies are common among Hanson fans. Tuesday, a frenzy ensued during a free Hanson appearance in a Dallas shopping mall. Nearly 8,000 fans caused almost enough of a scene to stop the show. More than 20 girls were treated for hyperventilation and minor bruises.

Now, that's not very Hanson-like behavior.

Hanson is the stickiest bubble-gum pop sensation since the New Kids on the Block. The group, whose youngest member (Zachary, 12) just recently entered puberty, also includes 14-year-old Taylor and 18-year-old Isaac. Hanson screeched on to the pop scene in May with the single "MMMBop." Their album "Middle of Nowhere" has gone platinum-plus since then. Their top-40-friendly lyrics and pretty-boy looks make them idol-ready.

Most of the girls gathered in Reisterstown look like Hanson. Their long, fair straight hair is tucked behind their ears.

When radio employees toss free T-shirts into the audience, fans swarm like rabid kewpie dolls. Within seconds, they've all pulled a shirt on over their clothes. Fluorescent orange, green and white clones result.

After the frenzy, fans focus on the eternal question: Who's the dreamiest Hanson?

Kathy Frei, 11, swears it's Zac.

"I love Zac so much. But I can't be obsessed with him or I can't marry him. I read that in a book," says the Carroll County resident, who goes to North Carroll Middle School. "He's a year older than me, but he's home-schooled, so I think he's on my level."

As expected, it's common for fights to break out over who's the hottest.

But an entirely different argument has 14-year-old Erin Treadaway swinging.

"I punched my best friend because he said Hanson was gay," the Catonsville resident says.

Charles Wallace, 13, one of about three boys present, has faced Hanson discrimination.

"People in my band hate them," says Wallace, 13, a student at Perry Hall Christian who has his own pop group. "They call me gay."

Hanson has crept into the station building through the back -- a bit disappointing, since everyone is waiting outside the building. A few fans catch a glimpse of them getting on the elevator. Then the brothers disappear faster than a one-hit wonder.

Upstairs, Hanson is performing for the chosen few.

In baggy clothes in dull blues and greens, they roll through their hits.

Nikole and friends watch them with blank looks. Shock, perhaps. Paper plates of untouched Thanksgiving dinners sit before them. Nikole's stepmother is the most animated as she mouths the words to "MMMBop."

The spotlight is on Hanson.

They sing. They answer questions. They joke.

Albie Dee: "People are dying to see you guys go on tour."

Zac: "We hope people aren't actually dying."

After this Baltimore junket, Hanson is off to Philadelphia for more of the same. They're in a hurry. It seems like the photo ops will never end. They sign autograph after autograph like pop-culture robots.

Girls offer them roses and stuffed crabs. One asks them to touch her necklace for good luck.

But don't dismiss the group as empty sex symbols. They know what's really important this holiday season.

"The most important issue is that I don't have a motorcycle," Zac says.

Perhaps Taylor is a bit more socially conscious. What's his cause? World hunger? AIDS?

"We don't want to get involved in those kinds of things," he says.

After the show, Katie, who somehow got into the building, is crying in the elevator.

She didn't get an autograph from Isaac. The "I Love Ike" (Ike is Isaac's nickname) written on her cheek is smeared now. But the rest of the crowd is getting what it wants. Hanson emerges at the station's entrance, where fans have been waiting for hours. A deafening scream rises. "Taylor! Isaac! Zac!" People are sitting on shoulders. Cameras snap.

Girls are hysterical. Coralee Quinn, who has Hanson-colored braces, yellow and green, collapses into a friend's arms in tears.

But Katie is OK now. Isaac shook her hand. Her right hand.

"I'm recovered, but I don't know what I'm going to do with this hand."

Pub Date: 11/21/97

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