A Dissection of 90's Pop Lyrics With Dr. Noodles: MMMbop

It's no shock that Hanson's MMMbop is often listed as one of the greatest songs ever recorded, but what may surprise some folks is lyrical genius that Hansen displays. As the saying goes, simple words reveal deep truths and MMMbop absolutely revels in this. I've gathered here a little insight for those few who have never taken a close look at the seemingly unassuming lyrics with the hopes of shining a light on the audacity of Hansen's vision. Let's dive in.

Oh oh oh oh oh
Yeah

A good start. Stern, refreshing, diverse.

You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast
Oh yeah
And they're gone so fast, yeah
Oh
So hold on the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care
Can you tell me who will still care?
Oh care

Two things really stand out here. First, Hanson (Hansen? who knows, lol) gets the big words out of the way quickly: "relationships" is the longest word in this song by two syllables. This is smart because the more you sing the harder words become to articulate. Second, Hansen are krokodil addicts, and they are letting us know that only krokodil cares, which is true.

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

As John Popper will tell you, this is the hook; the soul of MMMbop lives here, and in that soul resides the tortured vocalizations of hopelessly addicted Aryan youths cranking out hit after hit of their sweet nectar of choice. Short periods of lucidity allow Hanson to slip in two actual words. Well, one word twice. Big ups.

Said oh yeah
In an mmmbop they're gone
Yeah yeah

A little insight into the krokodil addict lexicon here, an "mmmbop" refers to the act of injecting oneself with the drug.

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It's a secret no one knows
It's a secret no one knows
Oh, no one knows

Not everyone can be Maya Angelou, but thankfully Hansin is. This is the verse that Josh Homme ripped off to great commercial success, but like I said, not everyone can be Maya Angelou.

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

Oh
Yeah oh

The haunting chorus brings us back to the topic at hand of how sweet krokodil is.

In an mmmbop they're gone
In an mmmbop they're not there
In an mmmbop they're gone
In an mmmbop they're not there
Until you lose your hair
Oh
But you don't care, yeah

The duality of this section of lyrics is pretty straightforward. On the surface, it is a painful look at what it is like to temporarily lose your thesaurus. Underneath a little slang you have a third person narrative of Hansen watching Home Alone at the part where Kevin realizes his family left without him.

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

Oh man, that hook. It is a little known fact that the extra syllables in the chorus are actually Zac's fairly accurate rendition of Yellow Ledbetter.

Yeah
Oh yeah oh oh
So hold on the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
And then you get old and start losing your hair
Tell me who will still care
Can you tell me who will still care?
Oh care

These three savants must have had a little Nostradamus blood in them. How could anyone have foreseen ObamaCare during the first term of the Clinton administration? I'm in awe.

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

I cannot get over how good this hook is.

Can you tell me? oh
No you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me? oh yeah
You say you can but you don't know
Can you tell me? oh (Which flower's going to grow?)
No you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me? (If it's going to be a daisy or a rose?)
You say you can but you don't know
Can you tell me? oh (Which flower's going to grow?)
No you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me?
You say you can but you don't know
You say you can but you don't know
You don't know
You don't know, oh

Have you seen The Constant Gardner? Neither have I, but I think this is the plot.

Mmmbop, duba
Du bop, du
Yeah, yeah
Mmmbop, duba
Du bop, du
Oh yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah

Last time for this piece of art (but you probably have your Walkman set on repeat so probably not really). Drink it all in, there is no innocence left. If you're not holding a Bic under a spoon right now you're a better (less fun) person than I.

Can u tell me? Oh
No you can't 'cause you don't know
Can you tell me?
You say you can but you don't know
Say you can but you don't know

Pessimism and withdrawal loom as this illusorily lighthearted ditty draws to a satisfying conclusion.

Overall, it's never terribly easy to grasp the full complexity of a great artist's works, but Hansen did well running simplicity's razor edge for broad public understanding without sacrificing depth of meaning. The world's youth in the 90's was transfixed, and whether or not they wanted to, grew up in a short handful of emotional minutes.