29
Mar 05

Great Moments: ‘Mmm Bop’ by Hanson 0:55-0:58

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Great Moments:
‘Mmm Bop’ by Hanson 0:55-0:58

(an occasional series reviewing all of music a few seconds at a time)

(suggested by Pete during Poptimism)

This has a fairly undistinguished start, and the strangulated and weak vocals inspire little optimism. It’s nothing special, until we embark on the chorus, which is just sounds and syllables, but it’s immediately obvious we are hearing a classic bubblegum pop moment, one of those that most of us sing along to joyously while the rest sneer with loathing. But what makes this moment extra special is the addition of an element hitherto unknown in records remotely like this: scratching. Nonsense words are as old as rock ‘n’ roll, awopbopaloobop and so on (and see scat before that), and bubblegum pop was also decades old, but the incorporation of a hip hop technique gives this a strong modernity it might well otherwise lack. On top of that, it has a potent energising effect, and is deployed when we are just climbing to a musical peak anyway, which is perfect timing. And we shouldn’t ignore the appeal of novelty in pop music, the fun of something new, the pleasure of a surprising juxtaposition. I wouldn’t suggest that this would be a mediocre record without the background scratching, but I do think it makes a significant contribution to its greatness. The album offers no scratching credit, but it was the Dust Brothers who produced this, so I presume it’s down to them.

(Outside the parameters of this series, but I can’t resist mentioning my other favourite thing about this record’s success: the stream of indie fans writing to NME et al protesting that they fancied one of the band and then found out it was a boy: the great thing was that these fans thought this said something negative about Hanson, and nothing about themselves.)

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