Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Farewell to the Crown

Song: Farewell to the Crown
Artist: Chumbawamba
Album: Tubthumping Single

Back in the mid-90’s there was a time when you just couldn’t escape Chumbawamba’s enormous hit “Tubthumping.” You remember… “I get knocked down, but I get up again…” The song was huge, and then deemed completely annoying due to its ubiquity, and the band was relegated to a footnote in music history. I was in college at the time, and remember when it first broke… on hipster alternative radio.

I went to school in Rochester, NY and listened to WBER 90.5 FM, the self proclaimed “only station that matters,” which specialized in alternative rock music. It was perfect for a snobby “alt” guy like myself as I heard all the music that made me feel superior to say… Lou Bega fans. WBER did, and still does, a “song of the week” that they play and get their listeners to vote a song into rotation. Sometimes these would include a new song by an already established act, but more common was some new stuff that the station wanted to play. So, back in ’96 they chose “Tubthumping,” and started it as the song of the week about three weeks before the song was literally everywhere.

I’ll be honest, initially I loved the song. Thought it was fun, catchy, and just an all around party starter. I heard it as the song of the week and went to buy the single (because the album wasn’t yet out.) So I got to listen to it over and over, with a couple not so good remixes and one b-side, “Farewell to the Crown.” “Crown” was an oddity, but a dug it anyhow… a traditional Irish tinged techno-pop song that didn’t really sound like “Tubthumping.” Yet it made me interested in the album very much, despite not totally realizing (at the time) that the song was basically advocating an end to the royal system in the U.K. (It was anarchy… but really catchy!)

But back at WBER, the song was literally exploding. I remember the DJ’s saying that they had never seen a reaction like that for a song of the week before, and never seen that many positive votes. It was all “can you believe how great this song is?” UNTIL pop radio began playing it. Once it was sandwich in between the likes of Savage Garden and Sisqo it was suddenly DROPPED from their playlist. Funny huh? Unfortunately I bought the album, which was pretty awful, (and DIDN’T include “Crown!”) and can now be found in just about any used music bin.

It’s important to note that Chumbawamba is not only still making music, but had their first release in 1980. (Yes, 80) That’s some twenty five years in the business… with one hit. Can Sisqo say that?!


That hit of theirs…

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