Does anyone even remember the Hippos? They were an upbeat ska-punk band that were bought by Interscope -- shortly before the pop-ska movement began losing steam, Reel Big Fish began losing their short-lived airplay, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones began losing their ties to a major label. The Hippos just barely missed the transition into synth-fueled power-pop a la Ozma (or, later, Motion City Soundtrack, HelloGoodbye, etc.) that would have put them ahead of their time. Instead, they went the way of the buffalo and earned a prominent spot on my underground music "Where Are They Now?" list -- although I think a lot of those mid-to-late 90s poppy ska-punk made that list.
I thought of these guys because an ex-girlfriend of mine used to make these spectacular perfume-doused mixtapes for me that often featured a Hippos song or two. There's an element of nostalgia that plays into the love I've got for these guys, but the band sells itself as a legendary key to the door of post-OpIvy ska. If you're interested in giving these guys a listen, your best bet is to check out 1996's Forget the World, a true ska-punk classic if ever there was one. (Released jointly by then-young labels Vagrant and Fueled by Ramen, the Hippos were an important part of establishing each label in the scene.) Complete with RBF-esque harmonizing vocals, strategically placed punk beats, and upbeat horn sections, the extinct Hippos are fun, catchy dance music.
Should my next post be dedicated to the Impossibles? I've got a feeling today's ska kick is going to fade faster than the fad itself did.
"I'm not a large water-dwelling mammal / Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? / Did Steve tell you that, perchance?"
- Hiphopopotamus, "I'm the Motherflippin"