The Crash Test Dummies are a Canadian rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The band is most identifiable through Brad Roberts (vocals, guitar) and his distinctive bass-baritone voice. The band is best known internationally for their 1993 single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" and best known in Canada for the 1991 single "Superman's Song".
The origin of the Crash Test Dummies is tied to the history of two Winnipeg nightspots, the Spectrum Cabaret and the Blue Note Cafe, owned by Curtis Riddell. After signing with BMG Records in 1991, the band signed with manager Jeff Rogers (Swell). The band first began to achieve commercial success in Canada with the release of The Ghosts that Haunt Me in 1991.
The band did not receive much international recognition until the 1993 release of their second album, God Shuffled His Feet. Particularly instrumental in increasing the band's exposure in the American market was the appearance of a new type of radio format, adult album-oriented alternative rock (AAA). These stations put the first single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" in high rotation and the song peaked at No. 4 on the US Hot 100. "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" did even better in the United Kingdom, where it was a No. 2 hit, and Australia where it peaked at No. 1. Popular parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied the song under the title "Headline News" in 1994.
Beginning with I Don't Care That You Don't Mind in 2001, the band's albums were recorded primarily by Brad Roberts, Ellen Reid, and a rotating roster of session musicians. One of the biggest influences for Brad Roberts was the band XTC and Andy Partridge in particular. The band even went on to cover two of XTC's songs: "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" for the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber, and "All You Pretty Girls" for the XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner.
Throughout their career, Crash Test Dummies have experimented with many different styles and genres of music. These styles include the acoustic folk rock of The Ghosts That Haunt Me, the electric alternative rock of A Worm's Life, the urban influences of Give Yourself a Hand, and the optigan-based compositions of Oooh La La! Crash Test Dummies recorded as a full five piece band from their debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me until Give Yourself a Hand. At this time, the most notable instrumentation of the band's music included Brad Roberts' lead guitar, Ellen Reid's keyboards, and Benjamin Darvill's harmonica. Another notable element of Crash Test Dummies' music are the contrasting harmonies between Brad Roberts' deep lead vocals and Ellen Reid's backing vocals in the higher register.