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30 Days of Songs: Day 13

June 4, 2011

day 13 – a song that is a guilty pleasure: Hanson: “Mmmbop.”

Okay, this one’s a little embarrassing, but when this song first came out in 1997, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d turn up the radio whenever it came on. It’s a catchy tune that never fails to make me smile.

Those three Hanson brothers are so cute. And I don’t mean that in a creepy Mrs. Robinson kind of way. I mean it in a pinch-their-cheeks-and–give-them-some-hard-candy-out-of-the-cut-glass-dish-on-the-coffee-table kind of way.

This is bubble-gum pop all the way. And that’s the attraction. Watching Hanson play “Mmmbop” gives me the same kind of warm fuzzy feeling I get when watching my students play recitals or my kid play his electric guitar.

Of course, how could such a song not demand parody? But strangely, there are many fewer parodies on the internet than I would have expected to find.

Late-night comedian Craig Ferguson turns it into a sexy cross-gender, cross-race extravaganza:

A ukulele player reinterprets it as a Leonard Cohen song:

And here a group takes on the meaningless lyrics by performing the song as a dramatic reading (with occasional melodic interjections by the backup singers):

But frankly, none of these is as funny as you would think they should be. Okay, the Leonard Cohen one kind of cracked me up. I’ve been practicing “Hallelujah” this week and it hit home. Also, the sight of a large and serious-looking man playing the ukulele is always entertaining in a Mutt-and Jeff-kind of way. But it seems not as easy to make fun of the song as you might expect. Why isn’t “Mmmbop” an easier target? Is it so wholesome it’s unimpeachable? Is there just not enough there to ridicule?

The Hanson brothers are all grown up now. They were 12, 14 and 17 when “Mmmbop” was released. Now they’re in their twenties and thirties. They have spouses and children. They shave. They are *gasp* BRUNETTES!

And they still write a catchy happy song. This is not deep music. It may not even be good music. But it’s definitely not sad.

After drafting this post before I went to bed last night, I woke up this morning with some kind of crazed mashup of “Mmmbop” and Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You” in my head. It works strangely well, if you can get the keys to come together. They’re both happy, straightforward three-chord songs. Sometimes it’s nice to ditch the complicated chord changes. hipster angst. Check our intellect at the door and just dance.

What are your musical guilty pleasures?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2011 12:03 pm

    I don’t think I could possibly have been more surprised by this one, Harriet. Good choice.

  2. June 4, 2011 1:02 pm

    There are a few “one hit wonders” that I must say I still stop to hear. I just browsed “one hit wonders of the 80’s” to get some specifics to mention and there were too many to count!

    BTW: My mom couldn’t wait to move here so she could “give-them-some-hard-candy-out-of-the-cut-glass-dish-on-the-coffee-table”- and she does. Regularly.

  3. freshhell permalink
    June 4, 2011 2:26 pm

    I don’t know that I have any. I guess the term confuses me because I don’t really care what people think about my musical tastes. I would cringe if someone I liked a lot enjoyed the Rascal Flatts, for example, because I hate that fake new country stuff. It lacks an authenticity and the gritty talent of the old country folks. Maybe that’s how you define good. But I have no probably telling someone I love to hear a Barry Manilow song on the radio or piped in at the grocery store. But a lot of what I like that might be termed a guilty pleasure is stuff I loved as a kid, listening to the radio. Songs like Cold as Ice, Love Hurts, Hotel California. I can’t think of anything I like as an adult that I’d be embarassed to admit to.

  4. freshhell permalink
    June 4, 2011 2:27 pm

    “Problem” not “probably” Jeez.

  5. June 5, 2011 9:31 pm

    Have you ever heard Bleu’s project “L.E.O.”? Hanson was a part of it – http://www.amazon.com/Alpacas-Orgling-L/dp/B000HRME6Y

    It’s a blast.

  6. June 5, 2011 10:53 pm

    I’m unfamiliar with both Bleu and L.E.O. Will check them out.

  7. June 6, 2011 8:09 am

    Bleu’s album “Redhead” is really, really good (if you, like me, have a huge soft spot in your heart for power pop). Andy Sturmer (of the sadly defunct band Jellyfish) produced a large part of it and of the L.E.O. album as well.

  8. June 25, 2011 4:43 pm

    1) I’ve never heard mmmbop before. I know, I live under a rock.
    2) Love the uke version. Cracked me up.
    3) I’d like to hear your mmmbop/fuck you mashup.

    When you move to NY, we’re going to hang out and listen to tunes.

  9. June 25, 2011 5:34 pm

    I would love that, magpie. Keep thinking good NY-bound thoughts. This is the week of reckoning.

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