Third Rock from the Sun (song)

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"Third Rock from the Sun"
Third Rock from the Sun single.jpg
Single by Joe Diffie
from the album Third Rock from the Sun
ReleasedJuly 4, 1994
Length3:06 (album version) 2:48 (radio version)
Songwriter(s)Sterling Whipple, Tony Martin, John Greenebaum
Producer(s)Joe Diffie, Johnny Slate
Joe Diffie singles chronology
"In My Own Backyard"
"Third Rock from the Sun"
"Pickup Man"

"Third Rock from the Sun" is a song written by Sterling Whipple, Tony Martin and John Greenebaum, and recorded by American country music artist Joe Diffie. It was released in July 1994 as the lead single and title track from his album Third Rock from the Sun. The song became Diffie's third Number One single on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) chart. The song also became his first number one hit since "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" in 1991.


An elaborate story begins in a small town with a woman entering a local bar “one hip at a time” (suggesting her attractiveness); an initially unidentified married man decides to make advances on her and phones his wife at home to inform her that he is (falsely) working late. Instantly suspecting that he is cheating on her, the jilted wife phones her sister to ask for emotional support. The sister’s boyfriend then departs to a nearby convenience store for some alcoholic beverages, but leaves his vehicle running while making his purchases. This, in turn, leads to several teenagers stealing his car and going on a joyride that culminates in a spectacular crash that causes a power outage to the entire town and appears to an observing waitress to be a UFO. The story comes full circle when town officials cannot locate the police chief — who is revealed to be the man at the bar whose attempted adultery triggered the chain of events in the first place.

The moral of the story is that, as stated in the chorus, "when (Earth is) spinning 'round, things come undone/Welcome to Earth, third rock from the Sun."

The radio version omits the vocoded "Welcome to Earth, third rock from the sun" intro and outro with police sirens.

Critical reception[edit]

Deborah Evans Price of Billboard magazine reviewed the song unfavorably, saying that the title is ripped off from Jimi Hendrix (Third Stone from the Sun) and the "twisted plot falls somewhere between "Smokey and the Bandit" and Back to the Future." She goes on to say that the song "somehow manages to obscure even Diffie's world-class voice in a confusing avalanche of lyrics."[1] Jim Ridley of New Country magazine described the song with favor, saying that the song was "the funniest and most jaw-dropping string of calamaties...since Bo Diddley bungled his way through 'Cops and Robbers'."[2]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Roger Pistole and premiered in mid-1994, which uses the album version of the song. It starts and ends with a static slideshow of the Earth's formation with the vocoded intro of the main line of the chorus (it is used again at the end of the song, with police sirens). It then shows Diffie performing with his band in a pub, and by himself on top of a huge globe in a field, while scenes relating to the song's storyline take place.

The dead man from the Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die) video makes a cameo, now propped up beside a liquor store.


Compiled from the liner notes.[3]

Chart positions[edit]

"Third Rock from the Sun" debuted at number 53 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of July 16, 1994.

Chart (1994) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[4] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[5] 84
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[7] 23
US Country Songs (Billboard)[8] 3



  1. ^ Billboard, July 2, 1994
  2. ^ Ridley, Jim (September 1994). "Reviews: Third Rock from the Sun". New Country: 56–57.
  3. ^ Third Rock From The Sun (liner notes). Joe Diffie. Epic. 1994. EK 64357.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 2611." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. October 3, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  5. ^ "Joe Diffie Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  6. ^ "Joe Diffie Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1994". RPM. December 12, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  8. ^ "Best of 1994: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.