People who grew up in the '90s: prepare to feel very old. “MMMBop,” the catchy earworm that made three golden-haired brothers from Tulsa, Okla., overnight sensations, turns 20 this year. Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, a.k.a. Hanson, released their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, on May 6, 1997.
The song that’s on the debut album is actually the second version. Here’s what the original version, recorded in 1996, sounds like:
While it doesn’t have the tempo or finesse that would come a year later when the Dust Brothers produced the album, the catchy chorus is still very much intact. In fact, it has its own origin story. “'MMMBop' was started as a background part during the making of our previous independent album, called Boomerang,” said Zac in an interview. “We were looking for background parts for a song, and somebody started singing what became the 'MMMBop' chorus.”
Speaking of choruses, it seems like this one is a popular one to cover. When we searched YouTube for “MMMBop Hanson cover,” even after filtering with added parameters such as “video” and “short (< 4 minutes),” we were left with thousands upon thousands of covers.
Funny enough, last year when asked if they had heard any good covers over the years, Hanson said they had not. “You know why? People can’t sing the chorus right. Most of the time they syncopate it wrong,” explained Isaac. But three months later, that changed when Hanson tweeted out the “first good ‘MMMBop’ cover ever.”
With a bounty of covers out there, we wanted to share some to celebrate the anniversary of "MMMBop." Typically, we would share 20, to celebrate the song's 20th anniversary. But we took a different approach. Instead of quantity, we’re going for variety. Because after 10, you're getting into mostly similar territory.
From the Hanson-approved version to the “What were you thinking One Direction?” one, here are 10 "MMMBop" covers.
Finally a version the Hansons like.
Vitamin String Quartet
The “classical” version.
That time the group was performing in Hanson’s hometown and decided to pay homage. Starts at 00:36.
Within months of the song’s release, Phish performed a cover at a concert in Italy, James Brown-style.
We could have chosen the produced video version, but this accoustic one provides more variety.
Hanson once mentioned in an interview that contrary to the happy chorus, the remaining lyrics of the song have a darker side to them. This spoken-word version does a good job of highlighting that.
Neil Cicierega, ‘Furries’
While it’s not billed as a cover, Cicierega’s “Furries” samples "MMMBop" for the length of the track.
With some beatboxing and clapping.
For anyone who thought "MMMBop" couldn’t be made any poppier, let Andrew Huang and Gunnarolla, a.k.a. Dreamz, show you otherwise.
The Sons of Pitches
The ultimate "MMMBop" in 10 genres. Guess we gave you 20 versions after all.
Follow Tahiat Mahboob on Twitter: @TahiatMahboob
More to explore: