Twenty years ago, the teen vulgarity and lunkhead humour of American Pie became perfectly matched by Pennsylvania punks Bloodhound Gang and their third album, Hooray for Boobies. Sam Lambeth revisits Jimmy Pop and co’s most commendable creation.
One question many interviewers asked Bloodhound Gang frontman Jimmy Pop was why. Namely, why an obviously intelligent man would devote his life’s work to songs dedicated to blow jobs, beer and boisterous behaviour. “We are all university educated, but I still find fart jokes and fat people funny,” replied Pop. And there within lay the raison d’etre for the Philadelphia fun lovers – boorish bro rap with a deceptively clever twist.
Bloodhound Gang’s third record was a perfect example of right place, right time. Hooray for Boobies landed in the autumn of 1999, at a time where Beck and Beastie Boys’ sample-heavy highs were propping up the alternative charts, Eminem was blending white-boy rap with comedy skits, and the teen gross -out glory of American Pie was selling out cinemas across the globe.
However, just like those aforementioned examples, there is more substance and sagacity in Bloodhound Gang than first meets the eye. Growing on a diet of serious synth-driven bands such as Depeche Mode, the fuzz-drenched distortion of Slayer and the punk lashings of NOFX, Hooray for Boobies blends all three together into a composite that’s irresistibly compelling. Opener I Hope You Die flies out of the traps with thick slabs of fuzz, arbitrary samples and Pop’s wry, one-note baritone.
Most successful is The Inevitable Return Of The Great White Dope, where Pop demonstrates his dexterity and delivery. “I’m the Angel of Death with my crimes against humanity, teeter tottering between brilliance and insanity,” Pop spits over scratched vinyl and jazz inflections. Equally as arresting is the blistering Along Comes Mary, which updates The Association’s 1960s smash into a punk thrash frenzy. Meanwhile, Hell Yeah revisits the acoustic thrum of their previous hit Fire Water Burn for a sanctimonious strum on the perils of pop culture.
There are times where Pop and co’s creative restlessness gets the better of them. Mope somehow incorporates The Simpsons, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, PacMan and Metallica into four minutes of frantic rap-rock, while Yummy Down On This is turgid and tough. Much more successful is Three Point One Four, perhaps the smartest and smuttiest song proudly proclaiming ‘vagina’ as the chorus. Pop, however, gets in some fantastic lines during the verses (“she was more flaky than a leper colony” and “so what if I’m not the smartest peanut in the turd?” are two choice cutaways).
Hooray for Boobies was also propelled into the public conscious off the back of two juggernaut singles. The Bad Touch amalgamates all of the band’s strongest suits – kitschy Eurodance beats, pulsating bass and Pop’s wisecracks – into an all-out dancefloor assault. With a chorus as infectious as the various STDs Pop finds humour in, it remains a staple of nightclubs across the globe. Follow-up The Ballad Of Chasey Laine was inspired by a porn actress Pop allegedly found cute, so much so that she was invited to offer a spoken-word at the end of the song. However, while Pop found himself disappointed with Laine (“her arms were hairier than mine”), the taut rock track proved another big hit.
Twenty years on, Hooray for Boobies may not be a seminal record, but its place as a curious slice of late-nineties culture endures. While the group tries desperately to offend every ethnicity and orientation as possible, the truth is Hooray for Boobies feels like the dumb mutterings of your drunk friend than the vicious vitriol of a Twitter troll. Bloodhound Gang may have sunk into obscurity after offending the entire nation of Ukraine in 2013, but Hooray for Boobies remains a gross but glorious collection.
All words by Sam Lambeth. Sam is a Birmingham-based journalist and musician. More of his work for Louder Than War is available on his archive. He also runs his own blog and his music can be found on Spotify.