Saturday, March 22, 1980

The Jam’s “Going Underground” debuted at #1 in the UK

Going Underground

The Jam

Writer(s): Paul Weller (see lyrics here)

Released: March 10, 1980

First Charted: March 22, 1980

Peak: 17 CL, 2 CO, 13 UK, 50 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.25 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.9 video, 37.85 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Jam were an English punk rock/new wave band which formed in 1972 and released six studio albums before their breakup in 1982. Their first chart single was 1977’s “In the City” from their debut album of the same name. Their success steadily grew until their tenth chart entry, “Going Underground,” debuted atop the UK charts. It was the first song to do so in six years. KL Despite The Jam’s success in their homeland, they never reached the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

The Jam were actually touring the United States when they found at “Going Underground” hit #1. Drummer Rick Buckler said, “It was a shock when we got to #1, otherwise we wouldn’t have been in the states…We had a good drink that night. However, everyone wanted to be back in Britain. We made out we had all come down with a virus. We canceled the rest of the tour of the States. We flew back to Britain on Concorde to record ‘Going Underground’ on Top of the Pops for the following week.” SF

The song wasn’t intended as a single. It was supposed to be the B-side of “Dreams of Children,” but “Going Underground” became the hit. “Striking the right balance aggressive punk posturing, Beatlesque guitar and catching singalong pop to create perfect harmony, the single would become The Jam’s defining release.” XFM

“Going Underground” might appear to be about London’s tube rail system, but it wasn’t. KL Singer Paul Weller wrote it in protest of the British Conservative government’s policy to spend taxpayers’ money on building their nuclear arsenal instead of funding other government programs. SF The song references the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. KL


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Jam
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 259.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia
  • XFM Mike Walsh (editor) (2010). The XFM Top 1000 Songs of All Time. Elliott & Thompson Limited: London, England. Page 205.

First posted 10/13/2021; last updated 11/12/2022.

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