Mel Magazine, “How Chumbawumba Tricked Everyone Into Thinking ‘Tubthumping’ Was a Pop Song”

At first glance, ‘Tubthumping’ is a saccharine, smooth-brained drinking song designed to be shouted in pubs. But below the surface, it’s a Trojan horse designed to covertly deliver anarcho-communism to the masses

By Magdalene Taylor, January 24, 2022

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the year that everything happened — 1997. It was an ear-biting, Pierce Brosnan-loving, comet-obsessed world, and we’re here to relive every minute of it. Twice a week over the next 12 months, we will take you back to the winter of sheep cloning and the summer of Con Air. Come for the Chumbawamba, and stay for the return of the Mack.

Somewhere in the depths of my childhood bedroom — maybe on a shelf in the closet, or stashed in a little ceramic jewelry box atop a dresser — is a cerulean, second-generation iPod Nano. On that iPod Nano, one might find various Good Charlotte songs misattributed to blink-182, and vice versa. On that pop-punk mix, however, one would also find a track that, with its raucous horns and frat-boy style chanting, didn’t sound quite like the rest: “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. 

I was a year old when the song was first released in 1997, and I surely caught blips of it throughout my childhood. But it wasn’t until age 12, when I watched the 2009 movie Fired Up!, that I became perpetually hooked. In it, the female protagonist’s douchebag boyfriend sings along to the song with his similarly douchebaggy friends. “Awesome song, Chumbawamba. That’s the soundtrack to my life,” he says. I promptly downloaded the song on Limewire. In the context of the movie, “Tubthumping” didn’t seem all that cool, but god, was it catchy. More than that, though, it was uplifting. Who doesn’t need a good dose of encouragement? Even as a preteen, I did get knocked down, plenty. And I would get back up again. I wouldn’t let anyone ever keep me down, and I would keep listening to “Tubthumping” as a reminder of that. 

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