Song Of The Day 4/10/2014: Chumbawamba - "How To Get Your Band on Television"

Sub-Hit Wonders: "Tubthumping" was a rousing motivational smash from Chumbawamba, who by all rights should have been a huge band with a name like that. Nothing too inscrutable about "Tubthumping," really. It sounds like it was crafted for after-match brawls in the Barclays League, a shimmering tribute to gumption, alcoholism and traditional drinking songs. That's really just about all there is to it. With its blocks of guitar saturation, pre-existing sentiment towards boozing it up and its gang-up chorus, it's the perfect song to license out to a beer company for their TV commercials. Except that never happened and never would have, because Chumbawamba were anarchists.

Not the stud-wearing, dumb anarchists whose endorsements of said political philosophy sprang more from a penchant to break shit. Chumbawamba were actual, philosophical, let's-go-to-the-copy-machine-place-and-meet-up-afterwards-at-the-coffee-shop anarchists whose existence stretched back to 1982. They have a long and colorful history of musical pranks and agitprop that's far too involved for me to get into here. They went through musical genres like firecrackers, floating from punk, folk and electronic to the arena rock of "Tubthumping." Chumbawamba were apparently very proud of their one-hit wonder status, as it only played into their their game plan of messing with people's pop.

"How To Get Your Band On Television" was their comic retort to Live Aid, which Chumbawamba dismissed as a crap way to get publicity from the suffering of impoverished children. Part of the song's effectiveness is its sarcastic roll call of pilloried pop stars delivered over a very ill-tempered Farfisa organ. I'll let you discover most of it for yourselves, but I do have to agree that the idea of a Cliff Richard crucifixion is intriguing. From a theological perspective.

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