One Hit Wonder: Chumbawamba (1997)

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
Single: Chumbawamba
Album: Tubthumper
Released: August 11, 1997
Genre: Dance-rock
Songwriters: Chumbawamba
Producers: Chumbawamba

"Tubthumping" by the British rock band Chumbawamba topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and New Zealand in 1997 and hit Number 6 in the US. 

It sold 880,000 copies in the UK and was nominated in the 1998 Brit Awards for Best British Single. In 2011, it was voted Number 8 in a readers' poll of the Top 10 One-Hit Wonders of All Time.


Chumbawamba was formed in Burnley, England, in 1982. Musically, they were untrained punk rockers. Front-runners in the 1980s anarcho-punk movement, they played benefit gigs in squats and small halls for animal rights, the anti-war movement, and community groups. 

The band released several tapes. By the mid-1980s, Chumbawamba was recording on vinyl through their own label. By the early '90s, the band members quit their jobs, devoted themselves to music, and moved away from their anarcho-punk roots. A documentary about this time with the band, Well Done, Now Sod Off! was made in 2001. 


Chumbawamba signed with EMI in Europe in 1997. It angered some fans. The band had contributed songs to a compilation LP called F*ck EMI in 1989, and they'd criticized the label in earlier pieces. The band argued almost every record company, even small labels, operates on capitalist principles. This move brought an opportunity for financial viability and a wider audience for their message.


Their 1997 major-label debut album, Tubthumper, became a smashing success thanks to the infectious track "Tubthumping." Its vast success got Chumbawamba noticed by the media. They made network television appearances and played at corporate-sponsored events. 

For their debut television appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, the band replaced the lyrics of "Tubthumping" with "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal." On an episode of Politically Incorrect, they encouraged people to steal their album from Virgin Megastores. And they allowed General Motors to play a song of theirs in a car commercial and then donated all their profits to anti-GM groups. 


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