Don’t stop the ‘MmmBop’

By | October 28, 2009

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead

Grant Kraft barely remembers when the Hanson single “MmmBop” was a monster hit in 1997.

He was 4 at the time.

But when Fargo North students were urged to donate money this fall to stop the maddeningly catchy song from playing over the school’s public address system, Kraft – like many North students – had an unexpected reaction.

He loved it.

Kraft downloaded the song, made it his cell phone ring tone and even broke out an impromptu “MmmBop” dance routine for friends and classmates.

“I’m a terrible dancer,” says the Fargo North junior, laughing. “I guess my friends called it dancing. But it was fun.”

Kraft was hardly alone. When school administrators OK’d senior Tyler Hetland’s suggestion to mount a “Stop the Bop” campaign – which they hoped would raise $1,000 for the Fargo Homeless & Hungry project – they expected students to shut down the sugary ditty with a flurry of donations.

“The original idea was it would turn kids off, and the insanity would drive everyone crazy to dump money into this,” says Troy Cody, assistant principal and activities director at North.

As of Oct. 7, the song – whose love-it-or-hate-it nature has sparked similar “Stop the Bop” campaigns nationwide – began playing during the five-minute breaks between every class period.

That’s a lot of “MmmBop.”

Even so, Cody was surprised by student response. “It immediately, instantaneously increased our school spirit,” he says. “Kids were bopping up and down our hallways.”

Cody also didn’t expect to see teachers smiling and bobbing to the beat. “Here we were in the middle of a dreary fall,” Cody says. “I think a lot of factors weighed into why it was so popular.”

Which is not to say “MmmBop” was universally embraced. Some faculty complained because the music was piped into every room of the high school, making it difficult to call parents or conduct business between classes, Cody says.

Nancy Tidd, physical education instructor, says she strongly supports the students behind the Homeless and Hungry project, but,“until they get the volume turned down, it’s a bit annoying.”

But despite the anti-“Bop” camp, many kids weren’t ready to “Stop the Bop.” Donations stopped at $430 – far short of the $1,000 goal.

That prompted another student, Mia Lopez, to step forward. The North junior approached Cody and asked if they could switch the focus to a “Keep the Bop” fundraiser, in which students donated money to keep the hummable hit in play.

To support her cause, Lopez presented Cody with a petition containing signatures 474 – about 45 percent of North’s student population.

By Oct. 16, students had donated $1,108 to the Homeless and Hungry project.

Then Lopez took the idea a step further: Because the music seemed to have such uplifting effects on student morale, why not add other songs to the mix?

North school officials agreed. Since Oct. 19, administration-approved songs by Beyonce, Rihanna and ABBA have played between classes.

To make the music less intrusive, the PA system will be adjusted this week so that songs play in the halls only, Cody says.

Now a student group will be formed to field student requests for songs, figure out the logistics for playing the music and run selections by administrators for approval, Cody says. “They’ll be the first filter to decide if songs meet school guidelines.”

Although Hetland’s “Stop the Bop” effort took an unexpected detour, the North senior says he’s still pleased with the end result. “We got the awareness out,” the senior says. “Every day, there are homeless and hungry people in Fargo-Moorhead. Even for a dollar, you can feed a homeless person for a day.”

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Lyrics to “MmmBop” by Hanson

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 to the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

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

Chorus:

Mmm bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du

Yeah (repeat chorus)

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