Rock Lobster

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This article is about the B-52's first single. For other uses, see Rock Lobster (disambiguation).
"Rock Lobster"
Single by The B-52's
from the album The B-52's
  • "52 Girls" (DB)
  • "6060-842" (Warner Bros.)
  • "Private Idaho" (Warner Bros.)
  • "Runnin' Around" (Island)
  • "Planet Claire" (Island)
Released April 1978
Format 7"
Recorded February 1978
Length 4:52 (single)
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 April 1978, and a longer version, which was part of the band's 1979 self-titled debut album, released by Warner Bros.[3][4] The song became one of their signature tunes[5] and it helped launch the band's success.

"Rock Lobster" 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 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".[6]

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 an edit from the album version released in 1979, which lasts about seven minutes and contains an extra verse.

Its lyrics include 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.


Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the song "incredibly infectious" and "memorable".[5]


Chart performance[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.[7] 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.[8]

Preceded by
"Call Me" by Blondie
Canadian RPM 100 Singles number-one single
May 24, 1980 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Call Me" by Blondie
Canadian CHUM number-one single
May 10, 1980 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders

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";[19] according to Lennon, "it sounds just like Ono's music, so I said to meself [sic], 'It's time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!'"[20][21] His return to the studio led to the release of Double Fantasy.[19] At a 2002 B-52's concert in New York, Yoko Ono joined them onstage for the performance of this song.[22]

The song appears in the Family Guy episodes "The Cleveland–Loretta Quagmire" (where Peter plays it on guitar)[23] 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").[24][25]

Early Commodore Amiga 500 units had "B52/ROCK LOBSTER" etched on the main circuit board.[26]

The song is playable in the video game Just Dance 4.[27]


  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. ^ "Lyrics: Rock Lobster by The B-52s". Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ Clark, Jeff (August 2003). "Making It Up As You Go: How DB Recs Chronicled The South In The '80s". Stomp and Stammer 8 (10): 30. 
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The B-52s – The B-52's". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: 147 – The B-52's, 'Rock Lobster'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0169a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  8. ^ David Roberts, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. 
  9. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ CHART NUMBER 1217 – Saturday, May 10, 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived July 29, 2007). CHUM. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  11. ^ " – The B-52's – Rock Lobster". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  12. ^ "Archive Chart: 1979-08-18" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  13. ^ a b "The B-52s – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 17, 1980 at the Wayback Machine (archived September 13, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rock Lobster". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  16. ^ "Archive Chart: 1986-05-24" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  17. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 34, No. 6, December 20 1980". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Pemberton, Pat (March 5, 2010). B-52s Honored to Have Inspired John Lennon's Return to Recording at the Wayback Machine (archived August 6, 2012). Spinner. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  20. ^ John Lennon – Double Fantasy at the Wayback Machine (archived December 3, 2010). Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  21. ^ "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. 
  22. ^ Alex, Michael (February 5, 2002). "B-52′s Show They’re Still From Planet Claire At NY Date". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  23. ^ Voynar, Kim (June 13, 2005). "Family Guy: The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire". The Huffington Post (AOL TV). Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  24. ^ Breimeier, Russ (December 1, 2007). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything soundtrack". Christianity Today International. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  25. ^ Sims, Robert (January 13, 2008). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie Review". Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Mystery Motherboards". Amiga History Guide. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  27. ^ Onyett, Charles (June 4, 2012). "E3 2012: Ubisoft Announces Just Dance 4". IGN. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 

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