Piano? Each brother taking lead on a verse? Perfect harmonies? Meaningful lyrics? This song has every element that I love about Hanson. I especially like the turn of melody in the verses, the simple combination of keys and acoustic guitar, and the imagery in the verse, “fighting in a ship on the ocean floor, dying over who drowns first”.* I can’t help but wonder how many compromises were made during the writing process. But while it fits the perfect-Hanson-song mold, there’s still something I can’t quite put my finger on that is a slight miss, not-quite-Hanson’s-best-material song for me.
Favorite Lyric: “I don’t want to start a fire, just to watch bridges burn.”
EP Ranking: 2nd place
Worth the Wait
I have to say I’m not really a fan of the obvious church references in this song’s lyrics. (And this is coming from someone who works at a church.) I have a lot of Hanson songs that I associate with my belief in God, but I much prefer when it’s up to the listener’s interpretation. But, I absolutely love the gospel groove in this song; it’s a melody that makes me want to dance around the kitchen singing into a wooden spoon. I think it’d be neat to hear Hanson explore this sound again in the future, but with a different take on lyrics. That said, I imagine “it’ll be worth the wait” to be a fan anthem sung for years as we wait in lines, and for the inevitable Hanson Time.
Favorite Lyric: “And when we reach the end of this life’s struggle, there’ll be a lasting serenade. Because it’s more than just a destination.” (While I’d rather Hanson pass on obvious religious references, this lyric speaks truth to me.)
EP Ranking: 5th place
The Ballad of Seymour Better Times
I first heard this song during Zac’s solo show at Back to the Island in 2018. I immediately recognized the guitar melody from this post on Hanson.net back in August 2017. I immediately loved it and hoped we’d get to hear it on the 2018 members’ EP. While it took longer than expected, I’m glad we have it now. When I first heard the EP version, I told my friend that the song got an “upgrade” from the BTTI version, in reference to the drums, kazoo, and slide whistle. All of these elements are a fun, quirky sound to a uniquely clever song. The churchy-references in this song are way more up my alley than “Worth the Wait”. Which brings me to…
Favorite Lyric: “How long must I roam ’til I can go home?”
Honorable Mention: “Old ladies singing!” is an actual lyric, friends.
EP Ranking: 1st place
Reading Your Mind
Another song I first heard at BTTI, I went into Hanson Day this year excited that I already knew I’d like at least 2 of the songs on the members’ EP. I do not get the creepy/stalker vibes some of my friends have said they hear in this song. All I hear is a sweet song about young love: a boy spending the night with his love, knowing other people won’t understand. If you weren’t able to attend Hanson Day this year, Zac said this song was written for another artist, but that they’d never say who. I may be way off base, but in my mind this confirms my suspicions that at least one Hanson may be a “Ghostwriter” (hello random song subject matter on the “In Color” EP) for (an)other artist(s), and now I can’t help but wonder who it might be.
Favorite Lyric: “It’s so hard to be waiting, thinking of the life we’ll share.”
EP Ranking: 3rd place
To me, this song has a Springsteen/Summer of ’69 vibes to it, much like “Somebody Who Wants To Love You”, and I’m not mad about it. I’ve lost count of how many couples I know who started out as young, broke, newlyweds. Every single one of them has told me that they now look back on their life in a tiny, run-down one-bedroom apartment and see a sweet season of becoming stronger together. This is what I imagine this song to be about. It starts off looking forward to “the better days”, but then the second verse references the hard times being the better days. I can’t speak from any first-hand experience on this, and I may be way off course, but I think it’s a perspective I haven’t heard Hanson write from before, and I like that it’s something different. Overall though, this song is just okay to me. I wish we had another verse or more lyric-filled chorus over the excessive repetition that “better days are coming.”
Favorite Lyric: “We fight and seek, just trying to live up to our potential.”
EP Ranking: 4th place
In Real Life is a quality fan club EP, and I think I’d rank it somewhere slightly above middle of the stack. I really like 3/5 of the songs, which is more than I’ve liked on the past couple EPs. But, I like the one or two good songs (“Somebody That Wants to Love You”, “I Don’t Want To Go Home”, “Young & Dumb”) from the past couple years more than I like the three good songs from this year.
*Maybe it’s because my parents bought a boat and I started sailing around the same time I became a Hanson fan, but I love every water/boat reference Hanson has. A few that come to mind: Save Me From Myself, Save Me, What Are We Fighting For
5 thoughts on “Fan Club EP Review: In Real Life”
1. Props to you for doing this in a way more concise post than I did!
2. I don’t *actually* think “Reading Your Mind” is creepy or stalkerish. I think spending years reading Twilight ruined my ability not to see that interpretation of it even when I know it’s so wrong. :-p
3. I like your interpretation of the hard times sometimes being the better days. I didn’t think of that and couldn’t really make sense of that line.
I have never seen nor read Twilight, so those references are happily lost on me.
I didn’t know anyone else wrote in depth reviews of their music. I’ve never published them because I figured no one cared.
Anyways, I also ranked Worth The Wait in 5th place.
Reading Your Mind is #1 for me. I did get the creep vibe at first but knowing the band I could move past it easy as they aren’t the creep type.
The rest fall in as follows.
Better Days in 2nd.
Compromise in 3rd.
Seymour Better Times in 4th.
So, I’ve just posted a really long comment to this post and it disappeared into ether. Great.
What were my original points? Trying to retrace my steps, I like how you rank each song, we all have our USPs and that’s going to be yours (mine is Play? Skip?).
– Compromise. Our views ultimately differ on that but we agree on the perfect harmonies.
– Worth the Wait. This is actually my #5 too, and although I can see myself singing it around the kitchen too, it’s definitely a bit repetitive and ultimately not my kind of song at all.
– Seymour. Well, I have to say that I really didn’t think much of it in 2018 but I was at the back of the greenhouse so I couldn’t hear squat. I really liked it this year and the recorded version confirms that impression.
– Reading Your Mind. I don’t know why people find it creepy – have they not heard of young love? Romeo and Juliet? West Side Story? As for the mystery artist this song was destined to, we’ll never know, but the rumour about Zac being a ghost writer for other artists has been around for quite some time.
– Better Days – I can’t hear Springsteen at all. This is musical theatre rather than rock, but at thes ame time, I know what you’re saying about the lyrics. Again, a bit too repetitive. Together with “Worth the Wait”, I don’t think we’ll hear it again live any time soon.
Great post, let’s hope that this time Word Press doesn’t eat my comment. I’ll copy it before hitting ‘send’!
Ugh, I hate when stuff gets eaten. I think “Compromise” is this.close to being perfect, I wish I knew what I thought it was missing. But I’m all about it replacing “On and On” in the public live setting for a bit. I love “On and On”, but I do think it’s time for it to be put on the back burner. The good news is I think you’re right, they way they’re marketing the song, chances are good we’ll get to hear it “soon”.