After 30 years of excessive drinking, pissing nights away and thumping tubs, the British
sensations band Chumbawamba has decided to break up.
Upon hearing this news, 99.999999999% of Americans will immediately wonder one thing:
Few people can recall their 1997 song Tubthumping. I say “few” people because no respectable person would ever listen to the entire song while sober.
And while most of us can still remember the words, I’m sure there were few back in ’97 who actually followed the friendly drinking advice from that awful chorus:
He drinks a whisky drink. He drinks a vodka drink. He drinks a lager drink. He drinks a cider drink.
Because “don’t you dare have a cider drink before the vodka drink!” or you might find yourself at Walmart buying a Chumbawamba Greatest Hits album at 3:00 in the morning. That would never happen though, because their greatest hits album does not exist.
Chumbawamba’s career spanned three decades and produced only a single hit. By that track record they might as well have continued playing another 30 years so they could have not ONE, but possibly TWO tracks on the Best of Jock Jams.
Over this time, Chumbawamba experimented with a variety of music styles including anarcho-punk, pop, world, and folk. In other words, they were that roommate you had in college who switched majors every few months, and then ended up just dropping out to work at Starbucks.
Chumbawamba’s music focused on surprisingly heavy topics like animal rights, pacifism, class struggles, feminism, gay liberation, pop culture and anti-fascism. You know – all the things your drunk uncle brings up at the dinner table.
Shockingly, they produced over 15 albums. But hey…they keep making those Land Before Time movies, so quantity does not always equal quality.
Tubthumping was featured in many, many movies and movie trailers around that time, but none more important than Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver.
The most devastating thing about the breakup is that no one may ever know the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries:
What does “Chumbawamba” mean?
Over the years, they have been asked many times about the meaning of their band name. They insist it’s a gibberish word and means nothing, but others have offered their explanation.
The BBC show Never Mind the Buzzcocks claim they got the name from what a monkey wrote on a typewriter during a scientific experiment. So apparently “Chumbawamba” translates into “I love the taste of fleas, but only if I can pick them directly from your body.”
A German website claimed that the “Chumbawamba” was the mascot of England’s Walford Town
football soccer club. This makes sense, because in Walford Town’s 30-year history they only scored one goal.
VH1’s Pop-Up Video claims the name “Chumbawamba” is derived from a dream that one of the band members had, wherein men were called “chumbas” and women “wambas”. There was no indication of what the children were called, but I’m sure it wasn’t “proud”.
Among Urbandictionary’s less offensive definitions is that it’s a pet name for a chunky toddler. And yes, I’ll use it in a sentence:
“How’s my little Chumbawamba? Does Chumba want another rack of ribs?”
But whatever the meaning, the contribution Chumbawamba has made to the music industry is undeniable – that we should always sing the songs that remind us of the good times…the better times.
Unfortunately, those times should never include the song Tubthumping.