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Throwback Thursday: Chumbawamba, ‘Tubthumping’

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.

Sometimes, you just wanna scream your lungs out in the most frivolously dramatic way as possible. That’s probably why ’90s funk-pop band Chumbawamba named their signature song “Tubthumping,” which literally means “to express opinions in a loud and violent or dramatic manner.” Banging with big horns and a glossy punk-bend, the song anchors the band’s 1997 major label debut, Tubthumper, and known by most pop fans as “I Get Knocked Down,” for its repeated use of the phrase.

From the spoken word intro, a sampling of actor Pete Postlethwaite’s performance in Brassed Off ⎯⎯ “I thought that music mattered,” he orates ⎯⎯ to whirlwind guitars, the annoyingly-addictive hook and Alice Nutter’s ethereal vocals, the song is a test of the times, which erratically mixed an abundance of pop, grunge and rock strains into one melting pot. “He drinks a Whiskey drink, he drinks a Vodka drink / He drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink / He sings the songs that remind him of the good times / He sings the songs that remind him of the best times,” vocalist Dunstan Bruce licks in between sonic punches and looped chants of “I get knocked down / I get up again / You’re never gonna keep me down.”

The video is suitably weird and fun and booze-soaked. It wears well for a song now in its second decade (seriously, how did we get so old?!) “The song changed everything. Before ‘Tubthumping,’ I felt we were in a mess: we had become directionless and disparate,” said Bruce in a 2016 interview. “It’s not our most political or best song, but it brought us back together. The song is about us ⎯⎯ as a class and as a band. The beauty of it was we had no idea how big it would be.”

He then reflected on a particularly jolting fan interaction which illustrated the exact scope of the song’s pop ubiquity. “The weirdest moment was in Japan, though. Danbert and I were in a lift in Tokyo on our way out to get something to eat. This young guy got in, saw us and started hyperventilating ⎯⎯ he was really excited and kept saying ‘Chumbawamba!’ and gasping. We didn’t speak Japanese so didn’t know what to say. When we got out we just looked at each other and said: ‘How did this happen?'”

Kids of the ’90s, salute one of the catchiest, undeniable pop hits of all-time ⎯⎯ and praise twenty one pilots for this sweet and sticky nostalgic cover just last year.

Relive the video below:

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.

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