Time Warp (song)

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For other uses, see Time Warp.
"Time Warp"
Song by Richard O'Brien/Patricia Quinn/Nell Campbell/Charles Gray from the album The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Released 1975
Genre Glam rock
Language English
Length 3:18
Composer Richard O'Brien

"The Time Warp" is a song featured in the 1973 rock musical The Rocky Horror Show and in the 1975 film adaption The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as a dance performed during the chorus of the song of the same name. The song is both an example and a parody of the dance song genre in which much of the content of the song is given over to dance step instructions. The dance is one of the major audience-participation activities during screenings of the film and performances of the show.[1] It has become a popular song beyond the reaches of the film and show, and is often played at dances and weddings.[2] An extended remix version of the song was released in 1989.

The song is in the key of A major.[3]

Cover versions have been recorded by such artists as Black Lace, Damian, Groovie Ghoulies, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, and Sebastian Bach of the heavy metal band Skid Row, as well as an Italian adaptation by Elio e le Storie Tese and a Spanish adaptation by the pop group Timbiriche. In October 2006, the song was ranked and voted 338 out of 2006 songs featured in the Triple M Essential 2006 Countdown.


"The Time Warp" was the fifth song in the original stage show (after "Science Fiction/Double Feature", "Dammit Janet", "Over at the Frankenstein Place" and "Sweet Transvestite"), but fourth in the film (following "Over at the Frankenstein Place" and preceding "Sweet Transvestite"). Stage productions continued to use the original placing until Richard O'Brien revised the script for the 1990 West End revival in which he moved the song to the film’s placing. For reasons of pacing, most productions now follow this order.

The song consists of verses sung by alternating characters, serving as the introduction to two of them, and choruses sung by the chorus of "Transylvanians" (Movie) or "Phantoms" (Musical), and the Criminologist/Narrator (played by Charles Gray in the movie). The characters that sing the verses are, in order, Riff-Raff (Richard O'Brien in the movie), Magenta (Patricia Quinn in the movie), and Columbia (Little Nell Campbell in the movie). After the second full chorus, Columbia often launches into her tap dance.

The order of the solos varies in certain albums. In the movie and Roxy cast album, Columbia's solo is right after Magenta's, then Columbia does her tap dance after a second chorus. The version that has been in stage shows more recently is similar to the movie and Roxy cast, with Columbia singing her solo right after Magenta's, but then she does her tap dance right after her solo, leaving only two choruses. Occasionally, Columbia's solo and tap dance come after the chorus after Magenta's solo.

The song is reprised/revisited briefly at the end of the film, in flashback, and in the show as an encore, led by Dr Frank N. Furter.

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1998 Darlington (band) covered the Time Warp for the compilation tribute disc Absolute Pleasure: A tribute to Rocky Horror. Although singer Christy Darlington kept the original musical arrangement intact, he changed the lyrics to reflect his own experiences attending Rocky as a teen.[4]
  • German psychobilly band Rumble On The Beach included a cover of "The Time Warp" on their 1988 album Rumble.[5]
  • A dance-pop/hi-NRG cover of the song was recorded in 1989 by British music artist Damian. However, Damian's version omits the verses of the song sung by the character of Columbia.
  • A techno cover of the song by German group Warp Machine was released in 1997.[6]
  • The 2003 tribute compilation The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show featured a cover by the American band The Groovie Ghoulies.
  • The US group Kidz Bop Kids covered this song on the 2004 album Kidz Bop Halloween. However, the line "it's the pelvic thrust" is changed to "it's the way you shake it."
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes covered this song on the album The A-Files: Alien Songs. It later appeared as a bonus track on their 2008 album, Undeniable.
  • The Mexican band Timbiriche covered the theme in their 1983 album La Banda Timbiriche en concierto. The cover in Spanish was named El baile del sapo (The toad's dance). While the band members were kids at the time, the lyrics were made to be cheesier than the original version. In a version created for a reunion tour where all members were over 30 years, the lyrics are closer to the Time Warp version.
  • Elio e Le Storie Tese recorded a parody of the song for the 1996 season of Mai dire gol, the Italian version of Saturday Night Live. The title of the parody is Balla coi Barlafüs, i.e. Dance with the Barlafüs, the latter word being Milanese slang for idiots. The parody lyrics are a mocking account of an unusual demonstration rally (a human chain to symbolically block the course of the river Po), held at the time by Lega Nord leader Umberto Bossi. The music video for the parody, filmed by the band for the show's opening credits, is a faithful recreation of the dance number from the original film.
  • During a Children in Need appeal night in the 2000s the BBC Newsreaders performed a skit to the song.
  • The US band Pain recorded a version for a punk/ska tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, the album was never released. The song is now available on the Pain DVD entitled In A Band: The Pain Years 1994-2000. This DVD was limited to 1,000 prints.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, Drew and his friends compete in a dance off with Mimi and her friends. Drew dances to "The Time Warp" while Mimi dances to "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches and Herb; the dance-off was as a result of the local movie theater replacing The Rocky Horror Picture Show with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in which "Shake Your Groove Thing" plays a prominent role.
  • In a second season episode of Glee, the song was performed by Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz and Cory Monteith.[7]
  • Nerdcore rapper mc chris performed a cover of the song on his 2012 album, Apple Lung.
  • In 2012, Time Warp was included on the video game Just Dance 4.
  • The song - including those accompanying it in the Rocky Horror Show was performed by the lead cast of Glee in an episode within its second season entitled 'The Rocky Horror Glee Show'.