How a Song Became the Most Hated Thing in My LIfe
A friend on Facebook recently started a conversation about what the worst music video from the 80s was. It became a lively conversation, with people tossing out their most despised songs and videos. Among those mentioned were Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go, Safety Dance by Men Without Hats, and We Built This City from Starship. The lively discussion brought back memories, and reminded me, in particular, of the story behind my all time most hated song.
It was 1997, and I, at the time, was the afternoon drive air personality at WSSN-FM in Clarksburg, West Virginia. As a Top 40 radio station, WSSN followed the usual music rotation rules of playing any song that hit the top ten about once every two to three hours. In April of that year, a trio of young kids called Hanson released their first single called MMMBop. The song skyrocketed up the charts, topping the charts in 27 countries, and even being nominated for two Grammys (apparently the Grammys weren't all that picky in those days).
As you can imagine, I heard the song a lot. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Not only that, but every other listener phone call to the request line was a teenage girl asking me to play that song, often times immediately after I had just played it. MMMBop quickly became the song I loathed to play. You would think that playing a song every two hours for months on end would be enough to make it my most hated song. But, no…
Sometime in late 1997, the company for whom I worked was changing formats on one of its stations in Charleston, West Virginia. I can't remember the call letters, but they aren't important to the story. This station was an Oldies format, and the company was switching to the station to Modern Rock. As part of the format change, we were also building out a new broadcast studio for the station. Myself, the chief engineer, and the station's program director would be working through the weekend of the format change to bring the studio online.
As a bit of a publicity stunt, the general manager of the station decided that it would be funny to start playing MMMBop at 5:00 PM on Friday, and play that same song through the weekend until 6:00 AM Monday morning when the new format would go live. Imagine spending the weekend wiring up a new studio while MMMBop looped over and over again in the background. It became the longest weekend in my life. The torture was excuriating to say the least. To quote Herbert Morrison, "Oh, the humanity."
After that weekend, Hanson's MMMBop, and quite frankly, any of their other songs, became my most hate songs of all time. I even refused to play MMMBop any longer on my show (I only got away with it because I was the program director of the station).
So, that's how a band of three young kids became the single most hated thing in my life. Even now, I cringe just thinking about that damn song.