The Week in Number Ones: Loreen, Lil Durk, and Hanson

By | May 26, 2023

Far Out Magazine

The Week in Number Ones: Loreen, Lil Durk, and Hanson

Welcome back to The Week in Number Ones, where all the biggest chart movers from the US and UK charts get condensed into one article.

I don’t always like to call attention to myself when I’m right, but this week, I feel the need to pat myself on the back just a little bit. That’s because the Foo Fighters have a new drummer, Josh Freese. And you know who called it? This guy! The proof is right here, dated January of 2023 and unaltered in the time since. Who’s that at number one on this speculative list? Joshua Ryan Muthafuckin’ Freese, baby!

You’ve almost certainly heard Freese’s drumming somewhere before. He’s played on everything from Meredith Brooks’ ‘Bitch’ to Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’. He’s a permanent member of punk legends The Vandals and new wave heroes Devo. In fact, here’s a short list of Freese’s collaborators, heavily distilled for time and clarity: Bruce Springsteen, Avril Lavigne, Puddle of Mudd, Chris Cornell, Danny Elfman, Rob Zombie, 3 Doors Down, Ween, Good Charlotte, A Perfect Circle, Sting, Daughtry, Nine Inch Nails, Miley Cyrus, Guns ‘N Roses, Selena Gomez, Ricky Martin, 100 Gecs, and Queens of the Stone Age.

It was his connection with the latter band, plus Freese’s origins in the late 1980s punk scene, that probably endeared him to Grohl. The Foo Fighters didn’t just need a drummer: they needed someone who could play stadiums, understand the hardcore punk roots that all of the members bring to the table, and can crack a joke or participate in a skit when called upon. When it comes down to brass tax, there’s simply no man more qualified for the job than Freese.

The real question is whether Freese will stick around or not. He revealed during his inaugural live stream that Grohl had performed the drums on the Foo’s upcoming album, But Here We Are. Freese is the biggest hired gun drummer in the world, and it seems like too lucrative of a gig to pass up. But then again, so is joining the Foo Fighters. I wouldn’t be surprised if Freese is just sticking around for the band’s current touring commitments, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if Freese decides (or is allowed by Grohl) to stay in one place for the first time in his musical career.

This week, we look at some Eurovision winners and take a trip into Lil Durk’s singular take on modern rap. Then, we get ourselves mentally prepared to face our own mortality with… Hanson’s ‘MMMBop’? All that and more as we round up the best chart news of the modern-day and recent past.

This Week in Number Ones: ‘MMMBop’ – Hanson (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Week of May 24th, 1997)

On March 9th, 1997, hip-hop lost one of its most important figures. Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. It was the ultimate end of the bitter East Coast vs West Coast rivalry that had turned tragic six months earlier when Tupac Shakur had been murdered in Las Vegas. Wars of words became actual violence. The public at large would mourn by throwing Biggie’s ‘Hypnotize’ to number one in May, followed by Puff Daddy’s tribute ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ and Biggie’s ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ at the end of the summer. In between, another song about the fragility of life and the unwavering imminence of death hit number one.

That would be Hanson’s ‘MMMBop’, one of the silliest and sunniest songs to ever top the Billboard Hot 100. And I’m not being sarcastic: ‘MMMBop’ really is a song about how time slips away, and death is always around the corner. Apologies if you didn’t catch that on the first hundred listens: Taylor Hanson’s vocals aren’t incredibly intelligible, and the music backing up those sad-sack lyrics is way too much fun to even seem like it’s talking about something serious. But make no mistake – ‘MMMBop’ is deep, man.

“What that song talks about is, you’ve got to hold on to the things that really matter. ‘MMMbop’ represents a frame of time or the futility of life,” drummer Zac Hanson told Songfacts in 2018. “Things are going to be gone, whether it’s your age and your youth, or maybe the money you have, or whatever it is, and all that’s going to be left are the people you’ve nurtured and have really built to be your backbone and your support system.”

Here’s the first verse, in case you still don’t believe me. “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 / 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?” That’s not the carefree teen pop that Hanson was representing.

Weirdly enough, if you go back to the group’s first album, Middle of Nowhere, songs like ‘Weird’ and ‘Where’s the Love’ have pretty dark depictions of life, love, and just struggling to get through the day. That’s just one of so many things about Hanson that don’t make sense. Do you know what else is crazy? ‘MMMBop’ was produced by The Dust Brothers, the sample-happy duo who helped craft the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay. Just two years after ‘MMMBop’ topped the pop charts, The Dust Brothers were creating the unsettling mechanical loops that score for Fight Club.

It was the brothers Dust who transformed ‘MMMBop’ from a mournful dirge to a bright and shiny pop hit. They’re the ones who put DJ scratches, drum machines, and a light pop-rock sheen over the top. Also, in case you were wondering, an “MMMBop” is a made-up measurement of time. It’s basically the equivalent of a short moment or fleeting second: “In an MMMBop they’re gone”. For a couple of blonde long-haired teenagers, Hanson were getting pretty deep.

For millions of pop listeners (see: teenager and young girls), ‘MMMBop’ was the perfect antidote to the heaviness that was swirling around the pop charts at the time. If you couldn’t stomach the violent murders of hip-hop’s biggest names, then the breezy tones of ‘MMMBop’ was sure to be the perfect counter. Except that it wasn’t: ‘MMMBop’ arguably has more nuance and subtlety than ‘I’ll Be Missing You’. Death was simply inescapable on the pop charts in the early summer months of 1997, and the biggest harbinger of the underworld was three blonde muppets singing a song with a made-up word in its title.

Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten (Week of May 24th, 1997):

  1. ‘MMMBop’ – Hanson
  2. ‘Hypnotize’ – The Notorious B.I.G.
  3. ‘Return of the Mack’ – Mark Morrison
  4. ‘For You I Will’ – Monica
  5. ‘Say You’ll Be There’ – Spice Girls
  6. ‘Foolish Games’ / ‘You Were Meant For Me’ – Jewel
  7. ‘I Want You’ – Savage Garden
  8. ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone’ – Paula Cole
  9. ‘I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face)’ – Rome
  10. ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down’ – Puff Daddy ft. Mase
Hanson - MMMBop (Official Music Video)

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