I was feeling energetic and expansive this morning, preparing for the first bike ride in days. I had errands to run and thought I might want to try some fun new hit singles from the iTunes music store. It — the store — suggested Hanson’s “MMMBop.” (No, I don’t know WHY, and I’m not sure I want to know.) What a capital suggestion; I long ago buried my shame over having a secret love for bubblegum (in small, sugar-free doses, if possible).

When it started to play, I was startled to realize I’d never actually heard the entire song before. Like everyone else in the world I remember a video of three cute California sk8r boys playing around on their Tony Hawk decks. Of course I remembered the chorus, which was everywhere at the time:

Mmm bop, flip ta ba du op
Du daba, du op
Flip ta ba du
Mmm bop, flip ta ba du op
Du daba, du op
Flip ta ba du

But this song, to my astonishment, has verses. And they suggest a certain world-weariness that’s disturbing in three blonde California teenagers:

You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast
Oh yeah
And they’re gone so fast…yeah
So hold onto the ones who really care
In the end they’ll be the only ones there
When you get old and start losing your hair

Start losing your hair? Hanson, at the time, had more hair on their three heads than you can find in some entire middle schools. But there was still another surprise to come:

This song is four minutes and 28 seconds long. What the hell? The compact between artist and consumer in bubblegum music is pretty clear, if you ask me: You get in and out in 2:30, and if you go any more than 14 seconds past that, you’d better have a damn good reason. You have a hook, a little verse or two, and the whole thing better be about chaste teen love, not hair loss. For this we will happily buy your records, request them when they reach oldie status and keep you touring on the state fair nostalgia circuit until you get tired of it. You can’t go writing four-minute-thirty singles! It’s just not done!

But maybe it gets you this:


Yes, you read that right: 20th Century Masters. Hanson. I ask you.

I sent this to Emma. She reassured me that my recollection of just what Hanson was, and is, was not lunacy:

God. I remember when I interviewed them over the phone.
Zac: What are you eating?
Me: Chips. Are you flirting with me?
And that was about as good as it got.

Still a cool single, though. Although it needs to be a lot shorter.

Posted at 1:35 pm in Popculch |

12 responses to “MMMwow.”

  1. Connie said on September 8, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    My kid was just the right age for Hansen. We even have their Christmas album.

    SNL did a memorable scene with them when they were musical guests. My vague memory is that they were trapped in an elevator and MMMBop came on and they all went crazy from it.

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  2. mary said on September 8, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    See that kid on the right? Dead ringer for oldest son Tom. People who don’t know Tom’s name call him that Hanson kid. Among the gangbangers and taggers at his high school, Tom is know as “The Hanson Doooode.”

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  3. nancy said on September 8, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Having seen your Flickr stuff, Mary, I’m inclined to agree. I bet your kid doesn’t worry about hair loss just yet.

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  4. mary said on September 8, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    No, he’s pretty hairy still, and still blond. Giggling girls come up to him in public places and ask him if he’s the kid in “Lords of Dogtown,” now. I think they’re too young to remember Hanson.

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  5. mary said on September 8, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    This kid:

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  6. Dwight the Troubled Teen said on September 8, 2006 at 2:42 pm





    Ms. Nall, if there was a “Bloggie” award, I would most certainly nominate you for this post.

    Just as the “Judger of Horses” in the Buddhist parable can see the dun mare within the black stallion, so thanks to you for showing me the art within the kitsch.


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  7. brian stouder said on September 8, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    Hey, another digression – but this is just too good not to “do the viral thing”

    A great lampoon of the Mickey Mouse/ABC shlockudrama×316-badreporter.gif

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  8. brian stouder said on September 8, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    oh heck!

    try this

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  9. basset said on September 9, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    guess I’m showing my age here, but the only Hansons I recognize are the three brothers from “Slap Shot”…

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  10. Susan said on September 10, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Hanson is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I’ll have you know, Nance. Those are cute Okie sk8r bois in that video, not a bunch of Cali hoodlums, and they’ve come home. In fact, they bought our old house! (and a bunch of others on the same hill, apparently they’re building some kind of compound up there.)

    My favorite memory from the height of their popularity: a woman I know who works at the same oil company as their dad told me then that a couple of years before they hit big, when she was on a committee to plan the company Christmas party, the question of entertainment came up, and the unanimous cry was “Not those HANSON kids again, PLEASE!”

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  11. nancy said on September 11, 2006 at 12:07 am

    “The Hanson Compound” — if that’s not a screenplay waiting to be written, I don’t know what is.

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  12. brian stouder said on September 11, 2006 at 8:25 am

    I bet they would need an on-staff plumber, for all the long blonde hairs in THEIR drains…

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