Writer(s): Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, Zac Hanson (see lyrics here)
Released: April 15, 1997
First Charted: March 28, 1997
Peak: 14 US, 19 RR, 21 AC, 5 A40, 13 UK, 13 CN, 19 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.5 US, 0.76 UK, 3.04 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 150.02 video, 107.6 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Mmmbop” followed closely on the heels of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” another “deliriously catchy” SG gem of “bubblegum gibberish” SG which “fed a growing demand for bright, clean, euphorically energetic down-the-middle pop music.” SG It sounds “like cotton candy, or like the feeling of jumping into the pool on a hot day. It sounds like summer.” SG
The Hanson brothers were all born in the ‘80s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dad was an accountant who turned the kids on to doo-wop, the Beach Boys, and the Jackson 5. Mom was a homemaker who homeschooled them. They started making music when the oldest (Isaac) was 11 and the youngest (Zac) was 6. While they all played piano initially, Isaac moved to guitar and Zac to drums. They started playing events and self-released two albums. Christopher Sabec, lawyer for the Dave Matthews Band, saw them play at the SXSW festival in Austin and signed on as their manager.
After fourteen labels turned them down, Steve Greenberg from Mercury signed them. He thought the original version of “Mmmbop” was “amazing…But I was totally skeptical. I thought some adult was manipulating it. There must be adults playing the instruments, or adults must have written the song, and I bet that in real life the kids couldn’t sing that well. I wasn’t going to pursue it but the song stayed in my head.” FB He went to see them live and was astonished that it was really all them singing and playing the instruments. He told them on the spot “I want to make a record with you.” FB
That original version came out on their 1994 album Boomerang. It was slower and more cluttered, but “already hellaciously catchy.” SG They borrowed the title from the scatline ending of one of their other songs. FB As the brothers would get ready for bed, they’d sing it together in the bathroom. SG Greenberg matched the Hanson brothers with the Dust Brothers, who’d worked on the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay. They only spent two days with Hanson, but it was enough for them to speed up “Mmmbop” and make it much funkier.
The part of “MMMBop” that everyone remembers is that sticky, ecstatic nonsense chorus.” SG However, the lyrics offer astonishing wise advice from such young writers, such as “You have so many relationships in this life/ Only one or two will last.” “it’s a song about realizing that you can’t plan out your life and that you have to hold onto the friendships that matter.” SG When the song got a Grammy nomination, it made 12-year-old Zac the youngest songwriter ever nominated.
First posted 10/19/2022.