Entertainment & Arts

That ‘MMMBop’ cover you love is probably being sung wrong, Hanson says


From left, brothers Zac Hanson, Isaac Hanson and Taylor Hanson of the band Hanson are shown in 2013 in London.

(Eamonn M. McCormack / Getty Images)

Brace yourself for some serious ‘90s nostalgia: Hanson’s catchy tune “MMMBop” turns 20 on April 15 and the band dropped a major truth bomb about the song -- people have been singing it wrong this whole time.

Two decades after recording the original self-released demo and six studio albums later, brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson made the reveal in a lengthy Q&A with Vulture on Tuesday. When asked if the trio had heard any good covers of their hit single over the years, Taylor, 33, replied with an honest “no” and his older and younger bros chimed in with why.

“You know why?” Isaac, 35, explained, “people can’t sing the chorus right. Most of the time they syncopate it wrong.”


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And with that, all your karaoke aspirations are aptly crushed.

Zac, 30, said that the song probably still needs a really good cover. 

“Someone needs to either make it totally their own in a genuinely unique way, or it needs to be a band that has a sensibility for old R&B,” Taylor added, mentioning that neo/soul band Fitz and the Tantrums could maybe do it.


“If Bruno Mars were interested,” Isaac said, “he’d probably find a way to kill it.

The earworm, which surely has eaten into your temporal lobe over the years and actually earned two Grammy Award nominations, was released the year the band was signed and was the reason the record label wanted them after they’d been turned away from several others multiple times.

“We were a young group of guys with long blond hair singing Jackson 5-esque soulful songs, and in the mid-'90s everything was grunge; it didn’t make sense to anyone,” Taylor said. “We weren’t deterred by that, which is why we went from A&R person to A&R person until the president of Mercury was like, ‘We passed on this?’ I think ‘MMMBop’ stood out. To us that was truly a garage record — it was us in a very small one-car garage, doing album-creation stuff at the ages of 10, 12, and, like, 14.”

The jam also helped create the template for the band’s later music, which interweaves “relatively serious thoughts” into something optimistic, the brothers said.

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“It’s not exactly sunshine and rainbows, but it’s packaged in a way that it’s looking for the moral to the story,” Taylor said, citing a few of the tune’s more serious lyrics.

“It’s an optimism that’s framed with realism,” he added.

“We used to always tease that we write happy sad songs,” Isaac said. “Maybe some of that came from listening to a lot of old R&B and rock ‘n’ roll.”


Still the “MMMHops” beer makers know that most people don’t recognize the bubbly tune’s darker lyrics.

“I think a lot of people did not [realize it was a darker song],” Taylor said. “And that makes sense. But hopefully over time, the staying power of that song is about the fact that it’s more than it looks like at first glance. That hook is what gets you in, but what’s below that is what keeps you there.”

Or the fact that you’re never really sure if you’re singing it right. 

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

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