“Pump Up the Jam” was the lead-off single for Technotronic’s album of the same name. The single was released in 1989, and it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1990.
The song was a very catchy dance number, and it definitely sounds like a product of its time. Honestly, I can see why it performed so well at the time. While it didn’t age well, I have to admit that I still enjoy listening to it. It definitely still ranks up there as one of my favorite dance songs that came out while I was in the ninth grade.
Of course, we can’t get into a discussion of this song without getting into the controversy that arose. At the time the song was released, it was credited as being by Technotronic featuring Felly; also, the album was originally given this same credit. Felly is the woman who appeared in the “Pump Up the Jam” video and on the album cover. It came out that Felly didn’t actually sing or rap on the album; she was simply a model who lip-synched in the video.
I have to admit that I kind of suspected that something was up when I was listening to Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 one week, and Felly was interviewed during it. She didn’t speak a word of English and needed to have a translator in order to do the interview. Admittedly, the lyrics in “Pump Up the Jam” are rather simplistic and a non-English speaker could have learned how to perform it, but that interview bothered me at the time. Not too long after, my suspicions were proven to be correct. After it was discovered that Felly wasn’t an actual performer, the artwork for the album was changed, and the “featuring Felly” credit was removed as well. This lip-synching controversy ended up only being the tip of the iceberg for these kinds of scandals; later in 1990, the infamous Milli Vanilli scandal broke, and a short time later, Martha Wash accused C&C Music Factory, Seduction, and Black Box of using her voice on their recordings and not giving her credit.
The music video for “Pump Up the Jam” was definitely a product of its time. It’s a very late-1980’s club video, and there’s a lot of flashing lights, bright colors, cheesy text, etc. This video aged even worse than the actual song did. The video is about 25 years old, and watching it now can be a rather painful experience.