More than a drinking anthem, “Tubthumping” was a song for the people
By Mike Vanderbilt, January 24, 2022
Everyone remembers where they were when they learned that Chumbawamba was more than a ‘90s one-hit-wonder and actually a long-running anarcho-communist punk band with a loyal following in jolly ol’ England; it may even be happening to you right now! Mel Magazine is marking the 25th anniversary of 1997 and wrote about the alcohol-propelled Trojan horse that was “Tubthumping,” a song that brought the band’s subversive politics to the top of the Billboard Alternative charts and provided the pop culture zeitgeist with one of the most memorable choruses of the decade.
It’s a rock ‘n’ roll tale as old as time: a band that has been working at it for years decides their next album needs to be hit they’ve been searching for or they’re packing it in. And then, through the grace of A&R—or maybe just luck—they finally score the chartbuster of their career with a tune that steps outside of their comfort zone and might even alienate their long-time fans.
Chumbawamba had experimented in punk, ska, folk, and electronica, but “Tubthumping” was pure pop from the songwriting to the production with horns, hooks, and an anthemic chorus quite literally meant to be sung at the top of your lungs in a crowded bar. But underneath the surface, the band remained true to its roots with lyrics conveying a deeper message of the workers “surviving the daily grind” as explained by band member Alice Nutter to CNN 1997. “Tubthumping” would debut at #2 on the UK Singles Chart in August of 1997 and would overtake the states over the following months, hitting #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 that November.