When “MMMBop” first bounded onto the airwaves a quarter of a century ago, it sounded like nothing else around. Released on 15 April 1997, it arrived at the tail-end of grunge and with Britpop in full swing, a blast of irresistibly catchy pop rock influenced by classic R&B and soul and sung by a band of brothers too young to have a drink to toast their success. The song soared to the top of the charts in a dozen countries, including Britain and the US, making the long-haired Hanson siblings international sensations overnight.
The trio had formed five years earlier in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after the family arrived back in the States after a stint in South America, where the boys’ accountant father was auditing operations in the oil and gas industry. As they travelled they listened religiously to a compilation of hits from the late Fifties, featuring golden oldies “Good Golly, Miss Molly” by Little Richard, “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin and “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day.
“It was rock’n’roll in its absolute essence,” remembers lyricist and middle brother Taylor Hanson. “That music became really ingrained in our psyche as our connection to America.”
The power of that influence would become clear when the young brothers went ahead and crafted a perfect pop hit of their very own.
The story of “MMMBop” begins in the Hanson family garage in 1994, when guitarist Isaac was 14, keyboardist Taylor was 11 and drummer Zac was nine.