As hard as it might be to believe, the year 1997 was an entire quarter-century ago. In many ways, it was not all that memorable of a year, but that’s hardly a sleight: the Cold War was over, the 9/11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror were years in the future, there was no global pandemic, inflation was low and employment was strong. In other words, little news in general meant a lack of bad news.
In terms of culture, 1997 had its hits and misses. A few hugely successful movies came out, such as “GATTACA,” “The Fifth Element,” and of course “Titanic.” (It was also the year of “Gone Fishin’,” but what can you do?) Books like “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” “Cold Mountain,” and “Into Thin Air” flew off shelves. And according to Classic TV Database, “Seinfeld” was the biggest hit on TV.
In the music world, 1997 showcased just how varied American taste in music can be. From pop songs to rap music to rock to swing, many of the songs that topped the charts in 1997 were so different from one another that all they have in common was the release year. Some of the biggest hit songs from 25 years ago hold up well today, and may even still have been hits had they come out recently. Others were definitely a product of their time. But for those of us who were tuning in back then, they still strike a chord.
MMMBOP BY HANSON
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Hanson’s “MmmBop” is one of those so-called “earworms” that you may love getting stuck in your head … or you may prefer to get a migraine. Long story short, according to National Post, people tended to have a love or hate relationship with this huge hit from 1997. It was a chart-topper that year, according to Billboard.
As far as the band members, brothers Zac, Taylor, and Isaac Hanson are concerned, if more people understood what the song was even about, perhaps many more would fall into the love category — according to the brothers, “MmmBop” is one of the most misunderstood songs of all time. While poppy and catchy and all, it is about rejection (more as in rejection by the public of an artist, not as in romance), about the fleeting transience of life, and about the difficulty of staying on your own course. Which is pretty heavy coming from kids who were 14, 12, and 10 when they created it. But look closely at the lyrics, and it’s all right there: “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.”
And as a sidebar, one version of the song’s music video uploaded to YouTube is approaching 119 million views at the time of this writing.