Gen X’s Top Ten Pump Up Jams (of All Time)

May 6, 2009

Here it is, Generation X.  Our Top Ten Pump Up Jams.  These are the songs that rocked the bleechers of every high school pep rally from 1987 to 1995.  There is no dispute to this list — it was definitively complied by through market research — i.e., my veiled recollection of the past — and several heated debates with my cat, Estelle.  So, after much debate and a cat fight or two, here is the final list:

10)  The Final Countdown, Europe — the only thing prettier than leader singer Joey Tempsett was his angelic voice.  C’mon, you know you love it.

9)  Good Vibrations, Mahkie Mahk and the Funky Bunch— Don’t hate, and don’t lie.  When they boomed this in the high school pep rally in ’91, you were feeling it — I don’t care who you were, or who you thought you were , you wanted to be Mahky Mahk doing arm curls with cinder blocks in an abandoned warehouse. 

8)  Ice, Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice — Say what you want, and I can hear the groans now.  The bottom line is, Queen rules, and Ice had a moment — a moment he’s ridden for the past 18 years.  ‘Nuff said.

7)  Turn This Mutha Out, MC Hammer —  Hammer’s gotta make the list.  I know you thought I’d go with “U Can’t Touch This”, but — pound for pound — “Turn This Mutha Out” was a much better pump-up song and, after all, that’s what this list is all about.   Go ahead, youtube it — it’s nice.

6)  Everybody Dance Now, C+C Music Factory— Another, “what the hell was that?” music collaboration from the early ’90’s — a singer that looked like Jody Watley, but wasn’t.  A rapper/ body builder who looked like a pump-up Rico Suave.  I didn’t get it, and yet we all got it at the same time. 

5)  Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J — LL was the original one-man star MC who had absolutely no issue telling the world how great — or, bad — he was.  Think of every rap song you’ve heard in the past 20 years — every MC telling you how great they are — that sorta “props to me” attitude started with LL and, let’s face it, very few have done it better.

4)  Thunderstruck, AC/DC — The first time I heard AC/DC, I was 8. My older brother played Back in Black for me, and I had nightmares for two weeks.  Even today, when I conjure up an image of the actual Devil, it is some variation of Angus Young in horns.  When I heard Thunderstruck 9 years later, I was still scared . . . but this time I liked it.  You’ve been Thunderstruck? We’ve all been Thunderstruck.

3)  Pump Up The Volume, M.A.R.S.— I don’t even know what this song was.  Was it rap?  Sorta, with Rakim’s voice repeating “Pump Up The Volume.  Pump Up The Volume. Dance – dance.”  Was it house music?  Was it Gregorian Chanting?  Who knows.  But it was killer.  I’m pretty sure the group “M.A.R.S.” was fromMars and US satellites picked the song up from with elaborate soundwaves.

2)  Sabotage, Beastie Boys—  The story goes that this song was purely an instrumental until AdRock (Adam Horowitz) walked into the studio and just “had” the lyrics.  And that, my friends, is how history was made.  Paranoia (“I can’t stand it.  I know you planned it. I’m gonna set it straight this Watergate . . .”) is a tremendous motivator.

1)  Welcome to the Jungle, Guns-n-Roses —  If I was scared of AC/DC, I was reallyscared of Guns-n-Roses.  Axl Rose looked like a Pantene model, and I was pretty sure Slash was anthropologically categorized as a Wookie.  It didn’t matter.  Welcome to the Jungle was the purest form of adrenaline that shook our high school gyms.



  1. AWESOME!!!! It Sounds like a great “Work it out” Playlist for my Ipod…I shall make it so…Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Thanks KJ . . . sorry no DMB in the mix. But we got a pal who will love the Number 1 . . . the only man who can mix Jackson Hole and G-n-R onto one baseball cap

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