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Crash Test Dummies

From Academic Kids

For the mannequins, see Crash test dummy.

Crash Test Dummies are a Canadian folk-rock group, who were popular in the early 1990s.

Formed in 1989 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the group quickly signed to a major label and released their debut album, The Ghosts that Haunt Me, on April 5, 1991. An unusual combination of folk-rock stylings with witty and offbeat lyrics and the attention-grabbing voice of vocalist Brad Roberts, the album became one of the year's best-selling records in Canada on the strength of the hit single "Superman's Song". It has sold nearly 500,000 copies in Canada, and won that year's Juno Award for Group of the Year.

On October 15, 1993, they released the follow-up, the more polished and matured God Shuffled His Feet. It was also a success, with the first single, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm", becoming a major pop hit internationally as well as in Canada and reprised by "Weird Al" Yankovic under the title "Headline News". The title track, " Afternoons and Coffeespoons", and "Swimming in Your Ocean" were also major hits on the Canadian pop charts, although they didn't follow suit outside of North America. The album would go on to sell nearly six million copies in America, and nearly ten million worldwide.

On October 2, 1996, A Worm's Life, their most overtly hard guitar-rock album, proved to be the beginning of the end for the band's commercial fortunes, selling poorly compared to its two predecessors and only spawning the minor hits "He Liked to Feel It" (with a video featuring a young boy finding, shall we say, interesting ways to pull out his baby teeth) and "My Own Sunrise". It ended up selling two or three million copies worldwide.

Give Yourself a Hand, released on March 23, 1999, confirmed this decline -- although it included the Canadian radio hit "Keep a Lid on Things", the album's experiments in R&B and electronic dance music garnered the most negative reviews of the band's career, and sold poorly.

The band has recorded three further albums since then, namely: 2001's I Don't Care That You Don't Mind, an experimental, dark, Southern Gothic sortie on the outskirts of pop that BBC Music called "beautifully laid-back and laconic", 2002's Jingle All The Way, an album of Christmas standards, and 2003's Puss 'n' Boots, which was yet another creative direction for the band, what Roberts described as "groovy-sexy". The Winnipeg Sun called it a work with "chicken-scratch wah-wah guitars, sexy backup vocals, slinky slow-burning grooves and swirly production flourishes," and that it was "more earthy and soulful than anything the Dummies ever did, not to mention catchier and more accessible than most". It spawned the (very) minor radio hits "It's a Shame" and "Flying Feeling", but since the Dummies have been on their own independent label after Give Yourself a Hand, they have not been able to distribute their music to the same extent they did in the nineties. In 2004 the band released Songs of the Unforgiven.

These newer albums marked maturity through experimentation, though none were commercially successful.

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