When a bunch of guys from Canada’s Winnipeg, Manitoba area decided to get together and form a band in 1986, what were they thinking when they came up with a name like Crash Test Dummies? It came about when a friend of the band, who was a med student, made the name suggestion based on the diagnostic mannequin. Since the start of Crash Test Dummies, Brad Roberts has been the frontman, whose easily distinguishable singing bass-baritone voice has been instrumental in the group’s unique sound in their recordings and live performances. Still together as a group, Crash Test Dummies has undergone a number of lineup changes, with Brad Roberts and his brother, Dan, Ellen Reid, Benjamin Darvill, and Mitch Dorge among the best recognized.
Crash Test Dummies have so far recorded and released nine studio albums, two compilation albums, two video albums, a live album, an extended play (EP), and twenty-three singles. The group also has two pre-label releases, the most recent among them being 2016’s “I’ll Be Peaceful Then.”
Top 10 Crash Test Dummies Songs
#10 – And It’s Beautiful
The happy, reflective, and upbeat “And It’s Beautiful” is the first lovesong Brad Roberts ever wrote, which is an achievement he’s quite proud of and deservedly so. It was the first of two singles promoting the group’s ninth studio album, Oooh La La!, which was released on May 11, 2010. So far, it has been the final studio album the Crash Test Dummies has produced in their career as the trip down memory lane of a husband-wife relationship is explored in what felt like melodic precision.
#9 – White Christmas
On October 8, 2002, Crash Test Dummies release their sixth studio album, Jingle All the Way. The 1942 original recording of what is now among the most beloved Christmas carols of all time came from Irving Berlin. It was written for the musical movie, Holiday Inn. It was an Academy Award winner for Best Original Song for Berlin. White Christmas has been covered many times over by many different artists. For the Crash Test Dummies, the uniqueness behind Brad Roberts’ voice gave White Christmas an element of depth that makes this an easy favorite.
#8 – Now You See Her
Quirky and entertaining as a single, “Now You See Her” was regarded by music critics as one of the best songs that came from the Crash Test Dummies’ ninth studio album, Oooh La La! It was actually released as a promotional single, which was performed with a big band-style electro-synth keyboard performance. It’s one of the most beautifully played singles the band has ever recorded, loaded with the Charleston-style background jazz that felt like the Great Gadsby was about to make a comeback.
#7 – The Ghosts That Haunt Me
As the title track from the debut album, “The Ghosts That Haunt Me,” it climbed up to number twenty-three on the Canadian Singles Chart. With a hint of country music due to the banjo play, the folk-style song laid out a rather whimsical tale of certain ghosts and demons coming to haunt, seemingly out of nowhere just because.
#6 – Keep a Lid on Things
The first of three singles from the group’s fourth studio album, Give Yourself a Hand, was “Keep a Lid on Things.” On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number five and was a number six hit on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs. Brad Roberts’ bass-baritone met with falsetto vocals in what was one of the weirdest songs the Crash Test Dummies ever performed. However, the silliness worked well with the easy-listening style that flowed in an oddly relaxing groove.
#5 – He Liked to Feel It
On the Canadian Top Singles chart, “He Liked to Feel It” peaked at number two. The darkly humorous lyrical tale is about a curious boy pulling his own baby teeth because of how it felt until his own father uses a pair of pliers to pull out a tooth. Suddenly, the feeling isn’t so great because that tooth was pulled by somebody other than himself. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, He Liked to Feel It climbed up to number eighteen. It was the first of three singles released from Crash Test Dummies’ third studio album, A Worm’s Life.
#4 – The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” was a covered single the Crash Test Dummies recorded for the soundtrack to the 1994 film, Dumb and Dumber. It was the first of two singles featuring Ellen Reid as the lead vocalist, which had her at melodic best, clearly giving a good reason why fans loved her as a singer as Brad Roberts. The storyline behind the song features a do-gooder who is punished rather than rewarded for their efforts. On the UK Singles Chart, The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead charted at number thirty and on Germany’s GfK Entertainment chart, it appeared at number seventy-three.
#3 – Superman Song
On the Music Canada Top Singles, “Superman Song” peaked as high as number four on its music chart in 1991. It served as the group’s debut single from its debut album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, which was released on April 5, 1991. As a rather depressive ballad about Superman’s contributions as an unpaid superhero, the Crash Test Dummies painted the character as a left-wing political character, which was received well enough by fans who didn’t care about politics, but criticized by listeners who didn’t care for the song’s lyrical content. Nevertheless, it’s still one of Crash Test Dummies’ best performances as Brad Roberts’s unique baritone seemed to add even more drama to the song. On the US Billboard 100, Superman Song charted at number sixty-six. It faired much better on Canada’s Top Singles chart at number four. It also charted in Australia, at number eighty-seven.
#2 – Afternoons & Coffeespoons
On October 26, 1993, Crash Test Dummies release its second studio album, God Shuffled His Feet. In 1994, the neurotically reflective third single from it, “Afternoons & Coffeespoons,” peaked as high as number four on the Canada Adult Contemporary chart. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the song reached number thirteen. Globally, Afternoons & Coffeespoons charted within the top forty and was a number sixty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. One of the best features Crash Test Dummies offers as a group, is at its best in this single with the range of vocals, plus the acoustic guitar play that served as their signature sound.
#1 – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” was released in October 1993 as the lead single from the group’s second studio album, God Shuffled His Feet. The acoustic classic made this unusual song loaded with messages about the personal anguish children that are deemed different go through, but at the same time not come across as depressing. It is suspected the song holds the record for the longest song title not to contain any vowels. “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” topped a number of music charts, including US Billboard Alternative Airplay, as well as among the nations of Australia, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the single charted at number four. Among most of the nations where the song did not reach number one, it was at least within the top ten. The single became certified platinum in Australia, New Zealand, and Norway. It earned gold certification in Germany and the US, and it was silver-certified in the UK.
Top 10 Crash Test Dummies Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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