Zac Hanson will never be hot (but he comes close at times). When Hanson burst onto the international music scene with their infectious pop smash MMMBop back in 1997, he still had his long and unruly, girly hair, and even today, his chubbyness disqualifies him from the conventional definition of classical beauty. I don’t always strive for perfection, however, and therefore the young drummer has always been my favorite Hanson.
One could of course argue that it didn’t take much for me to development a crush on anybody at that age (I was approching my twelfth birthday as Middle of Nowhere hit the charts), but in retrospect I’m not ashamed of it. Much like my fondness for Backstreet Boys, my Hanson fandom had to be kept secret, however, among other things because being a Hanson fan was considered wimpy and gay among my peers. (In fact, it was not until the release of their third album, 2004’s Underneath, that I publicly admitted to being a fan.) The irony in all this is that the fact that their music was so widely ridiculed made me feel that I was less weird for actually having a crush on Zac Hanson than for liking their music. Even though I was the only one who knew about either, it became important for me to emphasise that I liked the band because of Zac, and not because of the music. I’m not gonna psychoanalyze any further, but I guess that’s an early that I would be accepting of my orientation once I finally realized who I really am.
One of the main reasons why Zac was my favorite, was of course that he was closest to my age. I dreamed about being his best friend (even though my sexual fantasies were all about guys – something I, oddly enough, didn’t connect to being gay until several years later -, I still didn’t think about having sex with them), and I simply wanted to achieve the same level of success that he had. I guess I thought he was cute, but I wasn’t mature enough to see that that was how I felt about him. I kept saying to myself that I liked him because he seemed like a fun guy (he was sort of the band mascot, and he still is, in a way). Both Taylor and Isaac were more obvious heartthrob material, but they didn’t interest me the way Zac did.
The memory of my Zac crush stayed with me for years after Hanson temporarily disappeared from the charts, and it recurred when the second album, This Time Around, was released in 2000. His slightly androgynous looks had now gone into full bloom, and though I still didn’t have the guts to embrace them publicly, I was definitely drooling over him in secret. Yes, his pony tail (2:29) looked absolutely ridiculous, but there is really something about those lips. And on a different note, is have to say Taylor never looked better than he did did back then.
Perhaps paradoxically, as I have grown into an all-out Hanson fan, starting with Penny and Me from Underneath, Zac Hanson has come to be less important for how I define my relationship to the band. But still, it would probably come as no surprise when I say that Zac was the first one I looked for in the music video, and that his sudden grown-up manliness was a very big part of the reason why I kept coming back both to the band and that particular song. He will never be the most world’s most sexy man, but as long as he stays cute, there’s now way I will cut off someone who has been this important in helping me define myself over the last eleven years.