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"Rock Lobster" is a song written by Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson, two members of The B-52's. It was produced in two versions, one by DB Records released in 1978, and a longer version, which was part of the band's 1979 self-titled debut album, released by Warner Bros.[5] The song became one of their signature tunes,[6] and it helped launch the band's success.

"Rock Lobster" was the band's first single to appear on Billboard's Hot 100, where it reached #56. A major hit in Canada, the single went all the way to #1 in the RPM national singles chart. Its follow-up was "Private Idaho," in October 1980, which reached #74 in the US. It was well received by critics and was placed at #147 on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1979-1980) Peak

position

Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 3
Canada (RPM 100 Singles)[8] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 38
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[10] 37
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 56
US Hot Dance Club Play[11] 24
Chart (1986) Peak

position

Ireland (IRMA)[12] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 12

Composition and themes[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The album version of "Rock Lobster" (released in 1979 by Warner Bros. Records) lasts about 7 minutes and includes nonsensical lyrics about a beach party and excited rants about real or imagined marine animals ("There goes a dog-fish, chased by a cat-fish, in flew a sea robin, watch out for that piranha, there goes a narwhal, here comes a bikini whale!"), accompanied by absurd, fictional noises attributed to them (provided by Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson ... Pierson providing the higher-pitched noises and Wilson the lower-pitched ones); the chorus consists of the words "Rock Lobster!" repeated over and over on top of a keyboard line.

"Rock Lobster" is written in the key of C minor (with a raised fourth in the chorus) and is in common time. Instruments used in the music include a baritone-tuned surf-style Mosrite electric guitar, a Farfisa Combo Compact organ, and drums.[citation needed] Kate Pierson played the song's bass line on a Korg SB-100 "Synth Bass" synthesizer.

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart performance and reviews[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song was well-received overall, and was the band's first single to appear on the Billboard Hot 100, where it reached #56. In Canada, released on the Warner Bros. label, the single became a huge hit, eventually going on to reach #1 in the RPM-compiled national chart on 24 May 1980.[8] Although Rock Lobster only reached #37 on the UK singles chart in August 1979, it fared better there when reissued in 1986, reaching #12 as a double A-side with Planet Claire.[14]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called the song "incredibly infectious" and "memorable".[6]

In popular culture[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In spring 1980, John Lennon, whose post-Beatles music career had been on hiatus for nearly 5 years while he helped raise his son Sean, was prompted to record again after hearing "Rock Lobster";[15] according to Lennon, "it sounds just like Ono's music, so I said to myself [sic], 'It's time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!'"[16][17] His return to the studio led to the release of Double Fantasy.[15] At a 2002 B-52's concert in New York, Yoko Ono joined them onstage for the performance of this song "to warble and screech with the rest of the band for the show's finale".[18]

The song appears in the Family Guy episodes "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire" (where Peter plays it on guitar)[19] and "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" (as "Iraq Lobster"), and in The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (as "Rock Monster").[20][21] This song is also playable in the videogames Rock Band 3Donkey Konga, and Just Dance 4; for all of these, the single version is used.

Early Commodore Amiga 500 units had "B52/ROCK LOBSTER" etched on the main circuit board.

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