MMMBop

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"MMMBop"
Hanson-mmmbop.jpg
Single by Hanson
from the album Middle of Nowhere
B-side"Where's the Love"
ReleasedApril 15, 1997 (1997-04-15)
Recorded
Genre
Length
  • 4:28 (album version)
  • 3:58 (single version)
LabelMercury
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Hanson singles chronology
"MMMBop"
(1997)
"Where's the Love"
(1997)
Audio sample
Music video
"MMMBop" on YouTube

"MMMBop" is a song written and performed by the American pop rock band Hanson. It was released on April 15, 1997, as the lead single from their debut full-length studio album, Middle of Nowhere (1997). The song was nominated for two Grammys at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards and is the band's most successful single to date. "MMMBop" was a major success worldwide, reaching number one in at least 12 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The song was voted the best single of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll, while also topping critics' polls from such media as Rolling Stone, Spin, and VH1, and was ranked number 20 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s", as well as number 98 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years".

Background and composition[edit]

The song originally appeared on the 1996 independent album MMMBop with a slower tempo, but was reworked as an upbeat pop track by hit producers the Dust Brothers. This became the hit version. In an August 2004 interview with Songfacts, Zac Hanson explained the song's origins:

That song started out really as the background part for another song. We were making our first independent album and we were trying to come up with a background part. We started singing a slightly different incarnation of what is now the chorus of "MMMbop". That sort of stuck in our heads and never really worked as a background part, and over a couple of years, that piece really has stuck in our heads and we really crafted the rest of the song – the verses and bridge and so on.

What that song talks about is, you've got to hold on to the things that really matter. "MMMbop" represents a frame of time or the futility of life. Things are going to be gone, whether it's your age and your youth, or maybe the money you have, or whatever it is, and all that's going to be left are the people you've nurtured and have really built to be your backbone and your support system.

They [the lyrics] weren't inspired by one artist in particular. The first music that we got into was '50s and '60s music. If anything, "MMMbop" was inspired by The Beach Boys and vocal groups of that era – using your voice as almost a doo-wop kind of thing. It was something we almost stumbled upon.[1]

"MMMBop" is written and composed in the key of A major.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "The rush of youth-driven acts on radio accelerates with the onset of this candy-coated pop confection. Try to imagine what the Jackson 5 might sound like with the accompaniment of a skittling funk beat and scratchy faux-grunge guitars, and you will have a clear picture of where Hanson is coming from. Initially it's a mildly jarring combination, but it's ultimately quite cool. Factor in an instantly catchy chorus, and you have the making of a runaway smash."[3] A reviewer from Daily Record noted, "They're about half the age of the Spice Girls, but Hanson can sing, play their own instruments and string a sentence together. It must be their American upbringing."[4] Ian Hyland from Sunday Mirror gave the song eight out of ten. He commented, "Teenage brothers from America who sound a bit like Sheryl Crow on helium. You'll love this at first, but in a few weeks you'll be kicking the TV in whenever their smiley faces appear."[5]

"MMMBop" was voted the best single of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll, while also topping critics' polls from such media as Rolling Stone, Spin, and VH1, and was ranked number 20 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s",[6] as well as number 98 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years".[7] In 2021, Rolling Stone ranked it as the ninth-best boy band song of all time.[8]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to promote the single, directed by American film, television and music video director Tamra Davis.[9] It features the Hanson brothers singing and playing their instruments in a suburban living room. In between, there are clips of them entering a cave, ending up on a beach. Other scenes show them playing around in a city, dancing on the Moon, driving a car or appearing in old footage of Albert Einstein. "MMMBop" was published on Hanson's official YouTube channel in October 2009. The video has amassed more than 114 million views as of September 2021.[10]

Track listings[edit]

All songs were written by Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, and Zac Hanson. Additional songwriters are noted in parentheses.

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[70] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[71] Gold 25,000*
Belgium (BEA)[72] Platinum 50,000*
Germany (BVMI)[73] Platinum 500,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[74] Platinum 10,000*
Sweden (GLF)[75] Platinum 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[76] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[78] Platinum 758,000[77]
United States (RIAA)[80] Platinum 1,500,000[79]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States April 15, 1997 (1997-04-15)
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
Mercury [81]
United Kingdom May 26, 1997 (1997-05-26)
  • CD
  • cassette
[82]

Notable cover versions[edit]

Twenty years after the first recording of "MMMBop", approximately 93,000 cover versions of the song were counted by MTV reporter Patrick Hosken in March 2016, as represented on YouTube.[83] The Hansons told Rebecca Milzoff at Vulture that they had not heard any good cover versions, because "People can't sing the chorus right. Most of the time they syncopate it wrong," according to Isaac Hanson.[84] Later that year, Postmodern Jukebox recorded a cover in the style of 1950s swinging doo-wop with four male singers;[84] picking up 1.5 million views on YouTube in the first year.[85] In July 2019, the official Hanson Twitter feed shared a video by Scary Pockets, a band founded by keyboardist Jack Conte. The Scary Pockets version was fronted by Lucy Schwartz on lead vocals, and Adam Neely covered the electric bass.[86]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Taylor, Hanson; Isaac, Hanson; Zachary, Hanson (January 13, 2020). "MMMBop". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
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  4. ^ "Charts Slot". Daily Record. June 6, 1997. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
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  86. ^ @hansonmusic (August 5, 2019). "MMMBop ft. @LucySchwartz & @adamneelybass! Full video: youtu.be/fiShsfvbFUA" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]