Rock Lobster

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"Rock Lobster"
Single by The B-52's
from the album The B-52's
B-side "52 Girls" (DB)
"6060-842" (Warner Bros.)
"Runnin' Around" (Island)
Released April 1978
Format 7"
Recorded February 1978
Genre New wave,[1] dance-rock,[2][3]
Length 4:52 (single)
Label DB, Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson
Producer(s) Kevin Dunn (single)
Chris Blackwell (album)
The B-52's singles chronology
"Rock Lobster"
"Planet Claire"

"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 Hot 100, where it reached No. 56. A major hit in Canada, the single went all the way to No. 1 in the RPM national singles chart. Its follow-up was "Private Idaho," in October 1980, which reached No. 74 in the US. It was well received by critics and was placed at No. 147 on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."[citation needed]


Chart (1979-1980) Peak
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
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 12

Composition and themes[edit]

The DB Records single version lasts 4'37" and is rawer and faster than the 1979 Warner single version. It has, however, almost the same lyrics of the second version, just including some extra lines in the listing of marine animals. The 1979 single version itself is a edit from the album version released in 1979, which lasts about seven minutes and contains an extra verse.

Its lyrics includes nonsensical lines 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.


Chart performance and reviews[edit]

The song was well-received overall, and was the band's first single to appear on the Billboard Hot 100, where it reached No. 56. In Canada, released on the Warner Bros. label, the single became a huge hit, eventually going on to reach No. 1 in the RPM-compiled national chart on May 24, 1980.[8] Although Rock Lobster only reached No. 37 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1979, it fared better there when reissued in 1986, reaching No. 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]

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 3, Donkey 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.[22]


  1. ^ Nick Talevski (2006). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 725. ISBN 978-1846090912.  "Making their nightclub début in front of a sparse crowd at Max's Kansas City in New York City, The B-52's soon emerged as new-wave favourites. Attracting industry attention after pressing 2,000 copies of 'Rock Lobster' (a record cited by John Lennon as indicative of Yoko Ono's influence on new wave pop), The B-52's were signed in 1978 by Chris Blackwell of Island Records in the UK and Warner Brothers in the US."
  2. ^ "The B-52s". B-52s. Retrieved June 28, 2013.  "From groundbreaking songs like “Rock Lobster,” (...) to chart-topping hits like “Love Shack” (...), the B-52s’ unforgettable dance-rock tunes start a party every time their music begins."
  3. ^ "The B-52s, Bringing Back the Party". NPR. April 10, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2013.  "The zany dance-rock band — with its string of MTV hits like "Love Shack," "Planet Claire," "Private Idaho" and "Rock Lobster" — just issued a new album after a 16-year hiatus."
  4. ^ Rick Anderson. "Rock Lobster review at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 28, 2013.  "modified surf guitar sound"
  5. ^ "Lyrics: Rock Lobster by The B-52s". Todd. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The B-52's review at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ bulion. "Forum - ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts - CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". ARIA. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Top Singles - Volume 33, No. 9, May 24 1980". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ " – The B-52's – Rock Lobster". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  10. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "The B-52s awards at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 29, 2013.  Only one result when searching "Rock lobster"
  13. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  14. ^ David Roberts, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (in English) (18 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. 
  15. ^ a b Pat Pemberton (March 5, 2010). "B-52s Honored to Have Inspired John Lennon's Return to Recording". Spinner. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  16. ^ "John Lennon – Double Fantasy". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ "The Beatles: A 'where have you been for the past 40 years?' guide to who's who in the fab four...". Top of the Pops 2. BBC. April 2002. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  18. ^ Michael Alex (February 5, 2002). "B-52's Show They're Still From Planet Claire at NY Date". MTV News. Viacom International Inc. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  19. ^ Kim Voynar (June 13, 2005). "Family Guy: The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire"., Inc. AOL TV. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  20. ^ Robert Sims (January 13, 2008). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie Review". Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  21. ^ Russ Breimeier (December 1, 2007). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything soundtrack". Christianity Today International. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Mystery Motherboards". Gareth Knight. Amiga History Guide. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
Preceded by
"Call Me" by Blondie
Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
May 24, 1980 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Call Me" by Blondie

External links[edit]