Album: The Presidents of the United States of America (1995)
Charted: 15 21
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Songfacts®:

  • This song follows the story of a woman named (or nicknamed) Lump who lives in a boggy marsh. She's not too bright, but has managed to attract a mate ("Lump slipped on a kiss and tumbled into love").

    Presidents frontman Chris Ballew came up with the lyric. "It was just a visual, an image I had in my head," he told Songfacts. "When I thought of 'she's lump, she's lump,' I wondered, 'What could that be?' and I just wanted to paint a very surreal picture. It's a little bit 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.'" Growing up with Sgt. Pepper's being such a massive part of the landscape of my imagination, I think it was sort of my 'Lucy In The Sky,' you know, 'Lumpy In The River.' I just saw this scene, this weird jungle with this woman in a housecoat, an overweight, 50-something woman with her hair in curlers smoking a cigarette, sitting in the river and dumbfounding the piranhas who normally would eat her, but they can't make heads or tails of her.

    Everyone would always say, 'What is 'Lump' about?' I'm like, 'Just listen to the lyrics. That's what it's about.' It's literally about this vision, a fancy flight of imagination."
  • "Lump" was the first single from The Presidents Of The United States Of America, which had the good fortune of forming in Seattle in the early '90s when the music scene there was red hot. In 1994, they released an independent album and were building a following. The record labels came calling, and they chose Columbia, which issued their debut album in 1995. In America, "Lump" wasn't sold as a single but was pushed to radio and MTV, a strategy that encouraged album sales. The song is a bit of a novelty, but unlike, say, Green Jelly ("Three Little Pigs"), their quirky hit was not their last. Presidents also landed with "Kitty" and "Peaches." The album ended up selling over 3 million copies.

    Their next album was less successful but still sold 500,000. By 1998, the band was burned out and called it quits, but viewers of The Drew Carey Show could hear their cover of "Cleveland Rocks" every week as the theme song.

    The band re-grouped from time to time, and in 2016 announced they were stepping down. Lead singer Chris Ballew emerged as "Caspar Babypants," a maker of music for kids and families. Caspar tracks like "Run Baby Run" and "Stompy The Bear" have streaming counts in the millions.
  • A cello player named Lori Goldston (who played on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged special) had a hand in the development of "Lump." She was Chris Ballew's neighbor, and when Chris hit on the idea for the song, she let him borrow her 4-track recorder so he could work up the demo.
  • The music video takes place in a swamp, and we never see Lump. Instead, we see the band in their presidential suits performing the song in the water. It was directed by Roman Coppola, who went on to co-write the screenplay to the movie Moonrise Kingdom.

    Because it was the band's first video, they wanted to be the focus so fans could get a good look at them and see what they're about: high energy and good vibes.
  • It's easy to understand every word in this song. That's by design. Presidents had a unique sound, with lead singer Chris Ballew playing a 2-string guitar through a bass amp, and guitarist Dave Dederer playing a 3-string guitar through a guitar amp. Sonically, this opened up a big hole for the vocals, which come through loud and clear.
  • Weird Al Yankovic did a parody of this song called "Gump" with the lyric reworked to be about the movie Forrest Gump. In the video, Al portrays lead singer Chris Ballew, but performs in a fountain instead of a swamp.
  • When this song took off, a popular narrative was that the band's arrival signaled the end of grunge and a homogenization of the Seattle sound. Chris Cornell came to the band's defense, explaining that the city has always had groups representing a wide array of musical genres, but any that weren't grunge got overlooked in the early to mid-'90s. Presidents even opened two shows for Soundgarden at Mercer Arena in Seattle in 1996.
  • "Lump" was ineligible for the Hot 100 chart because it wasn't sold as a single, but it did go to #21 on the Billboard's Airplay chart, and also topped their Modern Rock chart.
  • The song is short and sweet, clocking in at just 2:14. Around this same time, Weezer was on the charts with one of their quirky hits: "Buddy Holly," which runs 2:39.
  • "Lump" comes in hot, with a drum hit immediately followed by vocal. It also has a cold ending, which means disc jockeys couldn't talk over the song at all.

    "I was trying to imitate a Buzzcocks song," Chris Ballew told Songfacts. "Originally the guitar and the bass were in from the very beginning, but I wanted it to sound like a song where the beginning of it could sound like it's already been going on for three minutes, like it just drops and it's on. But Conrad Uno, the guy that helped produce the first record, had the idea of muting the guitar and the bass at the beginning and have it just be drums. So that was a great decision because it's iconic, the way it starts."

Comments: 3

  • Megan from Stevenson, AlOMG!!! I love this song! Totally grew up to these guys!
  • Adrian from Houston, United Kingdom"Weird Al" Yankovic made a parody of this song called, "Gump"
  • Bertrand from Paris, FranceIn the onslaught of Seattle bands after the grunge revolution, the humorous approach of Presidents Of the United States Of America is unique. "Lump" is punk in instrumental style, but it is as insanely catchy as bubblegum pop.
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