Take a whiskey drink of Chumbawamba

Andrew Gaug

Ten years ago today, America was singing about drinking the whiskey, vodka cider and lager drink or, more memorably, getting knocked down then getting up again.

The song was “Tubthumping” by the politically active and very outspoken English band Chumbawamba. It came during one of the strangest years in modern rock when Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray reached number one by deviating from their ska-punk roots and angst didn’t rule the airwaves.

The song was about drinking, getting drunk, falling over and drinking some more. Of course, many people took its repetitive “I get knocked down/but I get up again/you’re never gonna keep me down” chorus as a declaration of fighting back against their opposers. Injured ice skaters used it as their comeback anthem. It became the theme to the video game World Cup ’98. There was nary a radio station that didn’t play it at least 20 times a day.

Of course, much like other quirky bands of that year such as the Presidents of the United States of America, eels and Nada Surf, the band’s one hit single was their downfall. Other techno-infused songs they released to the radio such as “Amnesia” failed to gain any momentum as it couldn’t reach the massive height of its catchy predecessor.

The band performed “Tubthumping” a few more times on shows such as “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” where they decked themselves and their instruments out in signs attacking corporations and the government.

Just as quickly as they came, they were forgotten.

They, much like many of the odd alternative bands that were able to score a hit in 1997, have transformed but still exist.

The song still evokes memories of drunks singing it off-key at baseball and football games. It also serves as a brief reminder of a less-serious time when people were preoccupied with a presidential sex scandal. The anthem of the time wasn’t “Soulja Boy,” but a bar anthem by seven extremely white people from across the pond.

Contact all correspondent Andrew Gaug at [email protected].