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Technotronic - Pump Up The Jam (1989)

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  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.99
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“Pump Up the Jam” is the opening track on Belgian act Technotronic‘s album Pump Up the Jam: The Album. ...

“Pump Up the Jam” is the opening track on Belgian act Technotronic‘s album Pump Up the Jam: The Album. Released as a single, it was a worldwide hit, reaching number two in the United Kingdom in 1989 and in the American Billboard Hot 100 in early 1990. The song was later certified triple platinum. It also peaked at number 1 in Belgium, Iceland, Portugal and Spain.

“Pump Up the Jam” has been described as a fusion of hip hop and deep house elements, as an early example of the hip house genre, and it has been named as the first house song to become a hit in the U.S.

Technotronic’s vocalist Ya Kid K was initially overshadowed by Congolese model Felly Kilingi, who appears lip-syncing in the music video and was featured on the first album cover as a marketing tactic. By June 2020 the official video at YouTube had received over 181 million views. Ya Kid K was ultimately recognized upon a U.S. tour and a repackaged album cover that featured her instead of Felly. In 2005, the song was remixed by DJ-producer D.O.N.S. and reached number one on the British Dance Chart. The Guardian featured the song on their A history of modern music: Dance in 2011. And in 2020, Slant Magazine ranked it at number 40 in their list of The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time.

Critical reception

AllMusic editor Alex Henderson described the song as “highly infectious” in his review of the album Pump Up the Jam: The Album. Nicole Leedham from The Canberra Times said that “Pump Up the Jam” and “Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over)” were “pushing the envelope of dance music in the late ’80s.” Complex stated that it “was the first house track to crack into the mainstream”, adding it as “the perfect track at the perfect time.” In 2018, Insomniac said it’s “one of the best dance songs of all time, because—while it should have disappeared in our cultural memory as a sort of punchline or joke or some one-hit wonder—it’s still an infinitely playable tune that works in literally any dancefloor context. It doesn’t get old, for some reason, and continues to thrive to this day. It’s dancefloor perfection.” Harry Sumrall from Knight Ridder said the song has “a beat the size of Boston, but Felly also sings with an unstoppable R&B swagger.” Bob Stanley from Melody Maker wrote that “not only was it a compelling dance track with a chorus so contagious it could keep you awake at night, it also formed part of the best Top Three in years when it was sandwiched between Black Box and Sidney Youngblood.” David Hinckley from New York Daily News described the track as “catchy”. The Orlando Sentinel said that “the sound is intoxicating”. People Magazine wrote that the song “is so enticing, the production so crisp and precise, that most people would have to put on a straitjacket to keep from bouncing around to the beat.” Pop Rescue noted the “phat synth and hi-hats” ushering “in a thumping bass drum.” Josh Baines from Vice called it “a towering masterpiece.”

Chart performance

“Pump Up the Jam” proved to be very successful on the charts on several continents. It reached number-one in Flemish Belgium, Iceland, Portugal and Spain. In addition, the single also reached number 2 in Austria, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Western-Germany. On the UK Singles Chart, it reached that position in its seventh week, on October 1, 1989. And on the Eurochart Hot 100, it went to number 3 same month. Outside Europe, “Pump Up the Jam” peaked at number 4 in Canada, but mangaged to reach number-one on the RPM Dance/Urban Chart. It also reached number-one on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and the Cash Box Pop Singles Chart. But on the Billboard Hot 100, it reached number 2. In Australia and New Zealand, the single went to number 4. It was awarded with a gold record in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, after 40,000 and 400,000 singles were sold. Additionally, it also earned a silver record in France, and a platinum record in Australia and the United States.

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