Rock Lobster

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"Rock Lobster"
Rock Lobster - B-52s.jpg
Warner Bros. vinyl rerelease
Single by The B-52's
from the album The B-52's
ReleasedApril 1978
RecordedFebruary 1978
Length3:57 (radio edit)
4:52 (single)
6:49 (album)
The B-52's singles chronology
"Rock Lobster"
"Planet Claire"
Music video
"Rock Lobster" on YouTube

"Rock Lobster" is a song written by Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson, two members of the B-52's. It was twice recorded and released as a single, first by DB Records as their debut release in April 1978, and again the following year for the band's self-titled debut album on Warner Bros. Records.[5][6] The song became one of their signature tunes[7] and launched the band's career. "Rock Lobster" was well-received by critics, and went on to place at No. 147 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[8] list in December 2004.

Composition and themes[edit]

The original DB Records single version has a duration of 4:37, and is faster in tempo and more "raw" than the 1979 single version, basically due to lower sound quality and the absence of a bassline. It has the same lyrics as the re-recorded version, but with more lines during the sequence that lists marine animals. The 1979 version is edited down from the album version, which lasts about seven minutes and contains an additional verse.

According to a "Behind the Vinyl" video with B-52's singer Fred Schneider for CHBM-FM, the song was mostly inspired by a nightclub in Atlanta named 2001, where, instead of having a light show, the club featured a slide show with pictures of puppies, babies, and lobsters on a grill.[9]

The song's lyrics describe a beach party while mentioning both real and imagined marine animals ("There goes a dogfish, chased by a catfish, in flew a sea robin, watch out for that piranha, there goes a narwhal, here comes a bikini whale!"), with absurd noises accompanying each, provided by Kate Pierson on the higher-pitched sounds and Cindy Wilson the lower-pitched ones. The chorus features Pierson and Wilson singing a long "ahhh" at an ascending pitch, followed by Schneider exclaiming the phrase "rock lobster!".

"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,[clarification needed] and drums. Pierson played the song's bassline on a Korg SB-100 synthesizer in the 1979 version.


Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the song "incredibly infectious" and "memorable".[7] Cash Box called it a "silly yet utterly enjoyable affair."[10]

Chart performance[edit]

The version of "Rock Lobster" released by Warner Bros. was the band's first single to appear on the 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 chart. "Rock Lobster" reached #37 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1979; when reissued as a double A-side with "Planet Claire" in 1986, it peaked at No. 12.[11] In Australia, it peaked at No. 3 in 1980.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

On January 26, 1980, the band appeared on Saturday Night Live, where they performed "Rock Lobster" and "Dance This Mess Around".

In the spring of 1980 John Lennon, whose post-Beatles music career had been on hiatus for nearly five years while focusing on raising his son Sean, was prompted to record again after hearing "Rock Lobster".[22] According to Lennon, "it sounds just like Ono's music, so I said to meself, 'it's time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!'"[23][24] His return to the studio led to the release of 1980's Double Fantasy, which would be his final album.[22] At a 2002 B-52's concert in New York, Ono joined the band on stage for the performance of this song.[25]

The song appears in the Family Guy episodes "The Cleveland–Loretta Quagmire" (in which Peter plays it on guitar),[26] and "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" (as "Iraq Lobster"). It also appears in the 2008 movie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (as "Rock Monster").[27][28]

Early Commodore Amiga 500 units had "B52/ROCK LOBSTER" etched on the main circuit board.[29]

The song is playable in the video games Donkey Konga,[30] Rock Band 3,[31] and Just Dance 4.[32]

Panic! at the Disco sampled the song's guitar riff for their song "Don't Threaten Me with a Good Time" from their fifth studio album Death of a Bachelor (2016).[33]

In 1988, Paul Sadoff named his Bicycle Frame business Rock Lobster Cycles after the song.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Echols, Alice (2010). Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-3930-7701-8. The B-52s' "Rock Lobster," another of the first new wave tracks to be played on disco dance floors, did not quite mock disco.
  2. ^ Talevski, Nick (2006). Rock Obituaries – Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 725. ISBN 978-1-8460-9091-2. Featuring the quirky lead vocals of Fred Schneider, the group's début album, The B-52's (1979), became an instant classic with upbeat, lyrically amusing dance rock numbers such as 'Rock Lobster',...
  3. ^ Jackson, Josh (September 8, 2016). "The 50 Best New Wave Albums". Paste. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  4. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 13, 2022. Amazingly, the song reaches a type of punk intensity, and Schneider yelling “Let’s rock!” as the band clicks into a reckless frug-groove is one of the most thrilling moments of the ’70s.
  5. ^ "Lyrics: Rock Lobster by the B-52s". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  6. ^ Clark, Jeff (August 2003). "Making It Up as You Go: How DB Recs Chronicled the South in the '80s". Stomp and Stammer. Vol. 8, no. 10. p. 30.
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The B-52s – The B-52's". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  8. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: 147 – The B-52's, 'Rock Lobster'". Rolling Stone. December 11, 2003. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  9. ^ "Behind The Vinyl: "Rock Lobster" with Fred Schneider from The B-52's" on YouTube
  10. ^ "Singles Reviews > Singles to Watch" (PDF). Cash Box. Vol. XLI, no. 38. February 2, 1980. p. 17. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  11. ^ David Roberts, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-00-8.
  12. ^ a b "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0169a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  14. ^ "The B-52's – Rock Lobster". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  16. ^ a b "The B-52s – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  17. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 17, 1980". Cash Box. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rock Lobster". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  20. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Singles". RPM. Vol. 34, no. 6. Library and Archives Canada. December 20, 1980. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  22. ^ a b Pemberton, Pat (March 5, 2010). "B-52s Honored to Have Inspired John Lennon's Return to Recording". Spinner. Archived from the original on August 6, 2012.
  23. ^ "John Lennon – Double Fantasy". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010.
  24. ^ "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 Online. April 2002. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
  25. ^ Alex, Michael (February 5, 2002). "B-52's Show They're Still from Planet Claire at NY Date". MTV News. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  26. ^ Voynar, Kim (June 13, 2005). "Family Guy: The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2009 – via AOL TV.
  27. ^ Breimeier, Russ (December 1, 2007). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything soundtrack". Christianity Today International. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  28. ^ Sims, Robert (January 13, 2008). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie Review". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  29. ^ "Mystery Motherboards". Amiga History Guide. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  30. ^ Zapdos560 (October 3, 2004). "Donkey Konga – Track List". GameFAQs. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  31. ^ Good, Owen (August 20, 2010). "Harmonix Confirms Entire Rock Band 3 Setlist". Kotaku. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  32. ^ Onyett, Charles (June 4, 2012). "E3 2012: Ubisoft Announces Just Dance 4". IGN. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  33. ^ Rutherford, Kevin (January 13, 2016). "Panic! at the Disco Gets 'Good Time' Rolling in Hot Rock Songs Top 10". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  34. ^ Medcroft, Steve (January 24, 2006). "Pro Bikes: Barb Howe's Rock Lobster". Cycling News. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2021.

External links[edit]