Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm is a song by the Crash Test Dummies. It was released in 1993 as the first single from their second album God Shuffled His Feet. the song was very successful all around the world, peaking at # 1 in Germany, Australia and on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also became a top five hit in both the UK Singles Chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Each verse of the song describes the isolation and suffering of a child, two of whom have a physical abnormality.
In the first verse, a boy is injured in a car accident and misses school for an extended period; when he returns to class, his hair has changed color from black to white.
In the second verse, a girl refuses to change clothes in the presence of other girls due to the birthmarks that cover her body.
The third child is a boy whose parents make him come directly home after school; during services at their church, they “shake and lurch” across the floor. His situation is said to be worse than the other children’s.
During a live performance for the Dutch radio station Kink FM singer Brad Roberts whispered during the third verse “Pentecostal“, apparently to mention that this third verse is based on this Christian denomination
An alternative version sometimes performed at live concerts replaced the third verse with one concerning a boy whose mother disposed of his tonsils after a tonsillectomy, thus depriving him of the possibility of bringing them to show and tell.
The music video (see above) sets the song’s lyrics as the script for a series of one-act plays performed by school children. Throughout, the scenes of the performance are intercut with scenes of the Crash Test Dummies performing the song at stage side.
The first act, set at a city intersection, tells the story of a young boy who was involved in a car crash. His hair turned white due to the force of the crash.
The second act tells the story of a girl that never used to “change with the girls in the change room“, until one day the other girls (portrayed in the act as three inquisitive detectives) force her to change with them, only to discover that her body was covered in birthmarks.
The final act tells of a boy that lives under the strict discipline of his austere parents and how his family attends a church, where church-goers shake and lurch during the services. During the verse, the “boy” nervously looks into the audience at a couple who seem uneasy with the subject, implying that the three are the family being sung about.
The track received a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, which it lost to I Swear by All-4-One.
Although highly successful when it was released, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm has since been frequently included on lists of bad songs.
Outside their home country of Canada, the single became the band’s most successful song, reaching # 4 in the U.S. and #2 in the UK – the group’s biggest hit in both countries. It also reached # 1 on the Modern Rock Chart in the U.S. and in Australia.
In Canada, the song was a comparative flop. While the Crash Test Dummies had 6 singles reach the Canadian top ten, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm was not one of them. In Canada, the single stalled at # 14.
The Crash Test Dummies began as a cover group while lead singer Brad Roberts studied to be a professor in English literature. Roberts played guitar in the group but did not sing because he thought his voice was too deep. A vocal coach convinced him that he had a distinctive voice, and Roberts’ deep baritone made this song stand out on the radio. Even today, very few people sing as low as he does on rock records.