The Moffatts – Crazy

Released: 8th February 1999

Writers: David Brunner / Jeff Coplan / Christian Berman / Frank Berman

Peak position: #16

Chart run: 16-21-42

The ability of the music industry in the ‘90s to recognise a successful product and rapidly duplicate it was often mocked and derided. Yet, credit where it’s due, the machine functioned without fail, even when presented with the unlikeliest of formulas to replicate.

When Hanson released MMMBop in 1997 as their first mainstream single, it was an unprecedented success. And of course, that created an appetite for more. But pop-rock groups formed of male siblings with flowing, golden tresses don’t just grow on trees and were presumably quite a niche resource. But even with such daunting – and very specific – criteria to fulfil, just 16 months later came The Moffatts. The Canadian quartet (why have three brothers when you can have four) were arguably an even less likely find, consisting of triplets Bob, Clint and Dave plus their older brother Scott. Now, in fairness, The Moffatts had done a lot of hard work up to this point, having released three albums by the time they were signed to a major label. This was their moment to seize the opportunity, even if it had come about in no small part due to the success of another act.

Yet for all the inevitable – and obvious – comparisons with Hanson, Crazy does more things differently than it does the same. Okay, the sound is strikingly similar and most definitely cut from the same pop-rock cloth. But then, if the brief was to discover and sign another group of brothers who play guitars, what else would you expect? Look beyond that though, and Crazy is arguably a more well-rounded effort. It’s a textbook example of a song that is crafted around what works within the genre and ditching everything that doesn’t. Thus, it wastes absolutely no time in launching into an energetic, bouncy rock number delivered with a recognisable punk-pop drawl. The lyrics, however, are very much rooted in appealing to The Moffatts’ teen demographic: “Life is such a funny thing, you never know what it’ll bring, you know I’m just takin’ it day by day”. The track never veers too far from profound-but-not-really existential adolescent musings that could have appeared in any pop song of the time. The thrashing production, on the other hand, is a much more assertive statement of the group’s ability.  

Whatever Crazy might lack in originality (an overrated concept), it more than makes up for with a relentless cascade of hooks. The song is a total earworm; each section sounds like it’s building to something bigger and without fail it delivers on that promise. The chorus completely goes off; buoyed by: “Oh-oh-OH-OH-OH” backing vocals, there is a heightened urgency to the delivery that elevates it so brilliantly: “I think I’m going CRAZY, can’t TAKE IT ANY M-O-O-ORE”. It’s a dizzying, sugar-coated rush that feels utterly anthemic. At the time, The Moffatts could only be compared with what had come before them, but in hindsight, Crazy has much more in common with the punk-pop movement of the early ‘00s. The unapologetically brash, spiky guitar riffs and polished production values feel closer to those of Sum 41 and Good Charlotte than they do Hanson.

Considering the record label went all out in every other aspect of Crazy’s release, the music video is incredibly conservative in terms of budget. Most obviously, it doesn’t seem quite to know where to pitch The Moffatts. The warehouse performance is shot in a grainy, grungy fashion that pitches the brothers firmly in credible pop-punk territory. It’s interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage of the band and some staged-but-act-natural shots of them messing around in a park. In the late ‘90s, making an immediate impact was everything, but honestly, there’s probably just a bit too much going on here. And even though the video tries intently to show The Moffatts’ personality, you do wonder whether it may have been better to leave Bob, Clint, Dave and Scott to their own devices a bit more. After all, they’d done a pretty good job to get to this point.

Crazy debuted and peaked at #16 in the UK. This is one of those situations where, much as the song desperately deserved to do better, the outcome was entirely understandable. The Moffatts were launched into a sub-genre of pop music where they really only had one major rival; and by that point, even Hanson weren’t routinely scoring top ten hits anymore. Undeterred, The Moffatts ploughed on and released two further singles from their album Chapter I: A New Beginning, although if anything was going to be a hit, it would have been this one. Nonetheless, it’s a good thing the group weren’t promptly dropped as soon as it became evident that Crazy wasn’t going to be an MMMBop-sized hit. Because even if global domination didn’t beckon, the band deserved to enjoy their time on a mainstream label after years of working to that point.

Post Author: cantstopthepop