In 1996, a band of three brothers aged 10, 12 and 14 gave the world “MMMBop” and we were never the same. Hanson became a household name and there wasn’t anyone who could hear the catchy song with the infectious beat and not tap their foot and bop along to it.
According to Zac, Isaac and Taylor, everyone’s been singing it wrong all this time. The brothers got together in an interview with Vulture to discuss their biggest song where Taylor informs, “you’re getting some serious ‘MMMBop details here.”
First off, we’ve been singing it all wrong. Isaac says the chorus is never right when people have covered it (sorry, One Direction) because “they syncopate it wrong,” meaning they’re accenting the wrong beat.
And that boils down to how “MMMBop” first started out. According to Isaac, it was “originally in the key of A” (it’s currently played in F sharp or F) which changes the tone entirely, transforming that uptempo teeny-bop anthem we all know and love to something a little bit darker. It’s what Isaac describes as a “happy sad song,” and “optimism that’s framed with realism.”
Also, It started out as a ballad until producers The Dust Brothers reworked it as upbeat pop track. So, because of its peppy beat, no one really got that it was far more depressing than it was, even with lyrics like “You have so many relationships in this life/Only one or two will last” being sung right at us. It should be pointed out that the very first version of the song was also slower, making it just a hair more melancholy.
But by the time it was released, the boys, who were in those precious transformative years, couldn’t hit those notes as their voices were changing. So we got this instead:
Taylor hopes, though, that the “staying power” of the song is about more than it seems. “That hook is what gets you in, but what’s below that is what keeps you there.”
Go ahead, listen to it, over and over, and you’ll be bopping your head all day. And we won’t blame you if it magically gets downloaded onto your phone. “Mmmbop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop … ”