2. House of Pain – Jump Around
Is this the most ubiquitous student disco song ever recorded? Having DJed at the odd student disco in my time I can confirm that this song polarises dancefloor crowds into a) drunk people b) sober people who have attended at least one student disco in their time*. The split between the two factions is clearly visible: the sudden rush to the bar from contingent b), who clearly feel the need to quickly join the ranks of contingent a) in order to successfully endure the relentless bombardment of Everlast and his Irish-American chums.
For this is a drinking song – slam those empty flagons on to the bar and order another seventeen pints of Guinness! It symbolises rowdiness, arrogance and shoving into people. So what is this song, that appears directly opposed to the fluffy-friendly rave scene, doing on Rave ’92? To sell units, is the obvious answer. But perhaps it is symbolic of the rave end-times? A drop in quality of happy drugs in the nineties saw ravers increasingly turning to coke, booze and speed for their kicks, all of which increased the general air of aggression and paranoia (Jane Bussman describes all this very well in Once In A Lifetime: The Crazy Days Of Acid House).
Of course none of this encroached on eleven-year-old Kat’s enjoyment of the record. I loved trying to decipher the near-unintelligible lyrics (in the same way as I had done for ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’, on the pink notepaper). It wasn’t the speed of the lyrics that baffled me so much as the strange words themselves. “I’ll serve your ass like John MacEnroe” – no problems there, I had watched plenty of tennis and appreciated the metaphor. But “If your girl steps up, I’m smacking the ho” – what on earth could that mean? I found the above lyric just now via Google search, but the pink notepaper had it down as “If the girl steps up, I’ll sock in the hole“. A practical solution to plugging a leaky dam before the nice lady in the white coat comes to inspect it! In any case, ‘Jump Around’ was merely a catchy song full of words to be learned, in order to show off. I had no idea what House Of Pain even looked like until I saw one of Everlast’s solo gigs in 2001**.
This sort of bragging rap plus hands-in-the-air chorus is by no means a bad thing in itself (see ‘Boom! Shake The Room’), so what makes ‘Jump Around’ so grating compared to its peers? Incessant sampled screams? Permanent association with oversized St.Patrick’s Day hats? A few years ago I was driving around the North Circular listening to late night Xfm. The DJ announced a listener vote, whereby listeners could ring up and state their preference for either ‘Jump Around’ or ‘Insane In The Membrane‘ by Cypress Hill. Every single caller requested the latter, stating they had heard the former one too many times. At one too many student discos.
*Of course it is assumed that at one’s first student disco drunkenness is mandatory.
**Yes, he played ‘Jump Around’ for an encore and yes, everyone went bonkers – possibly out of relief that the set had ended. Don’t worry, I didn’t pay to get in or anything!