Chumbawamba is breaking up, raising one question for many Americans: They’re still together? While the band had a long and frequently successful career in the United Kingdom, spanning three decades, on this side of the pond they were known mostly for one song, “Tubthumping,” which the staff of Rolling Stone recently placed at No. 12 on their list of “The 20 Most Annoying Songs.”
The band evoked T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” to announce the decision on their website, Chumba.com:
That’s it then, it’s the end, with neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion. Thirty years of ideas and melodies, endless meetings and European tours, press releases, singalong choruses and Dada sound poetry, finally at an end.
Of course this is only one aspect of the announcement’s poignancy. It’s a bit tragic to read in their statement that the band “relished a role as a band that could use music to pass on information. Songs as history lessons or cultural debates.” This, while Americans mostly recognize the song from arena PA systems at sporting events and the debut episode of Dawson’s Creek. Some of their less remembered songs include “Criminal Injustice” and “Ugh! Your Ugly Houses!”
But perhaps it’s too late now to go back and appreciate the radical political legacy of Chumbawamba. Instead, perhaps we should do what the spirit of “Tubthumping” all-too-infectiously invited us to do all along: Pour one out and mindlessly sing along. As the song says:
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 song that remind him of the better times.