U.S. News reported a while back that a parody of “Tub-thumping,” with lyrics endorsing a war against Iraq, was making the rounds of the Pentagon as an e-mailed sound file. It’s since spread beyond the military, as such things tend to do. The 73-second file, under the name “Saddambombing,” can be found at http://members.aol.com/BusySygnal; it doesn’t seem to have shown up anywhere offline yet, aside from the Australian youth radio network JJJ. For a net-meme, it’s beautifully produced, with nearly dead-on scansion and soundalike voices, though the British accent on the rapped whiskey-drink bit (“Now if he does attack/We’re gonna drop a stack/Of missiles on Iraq/And get him off our back/And if he won’t let us look for all his nerve gas/The U.S. Army is gonna kick him in the ass”) is incongruous for U.S.A. jingoism.

It’s curious that a song by Chumbawamba, once an insular group of peaceniks, should become a hawk anthem. Detournabout is fair play, though. Back in the early ’90s, Chumba made a never-officially- released album, Jesus H. Christ, built mostly on sampled and appropriated hits–“All Right Now,” “Money Money Money,”–and they still incorporate fragments of familiar tunes into their own. (The bit of “Danny Boy” in “Tubthumping” becomes “We should destroy…that Iraqi boy” in “Saddambombing.”) The trade-off they’ve made for becoming pop culture is opening themselves up to this kind of grand-scale rewriting–providing a launching pad for ideals in opposition to the ones they no longer articulate. Do the people singing, “Let’s hunt him down and shoot him in the head/And bomb Iraq into the ground,” even know they’re singing taps for the peace punk dream?

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