Tubthumping – Chumbawamba | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#6); 1997

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

In 1982, two bands based in Yorkshire, the Passion Killers and Chimp Eats Banana, became one, The Mirror Boys. The Mirror Boys’ music and philosophy were based in anarchistic politics, and the band played benefits for anti-war and animal rights causes. Along the way, the Boys became Chumbawamba, a meaningless name that was right in line with the band’s anti-everything-establishment stance. Chumbawamba reached its public through the UK’s very active cassette culture, moving up to vinyl in the mid-1980’s. Its musical foundation also changed: from anarcho-punk to techno to dance and beyond. In 1997, its fans recoiled when Chumbawamba signed on with corporate giant EMI, a company they’d prominently dissed back in ’89. For the band, EMI meant a living wage and greater visibility, points proven when Tubthumping shot to international success. Fittingly, Tubthumping‘s broad-based appeal over previous Chumba offerings lay in its relatively apolitical lyrics involving a drunken singer who refuses to be defeated no matter how many times he’s knocked down.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Chumbawamba

Lyrics Written by:

  • Chumbawamba


  • At the 1998 Brit Awards, “Tubthumping” was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Single