Time Warp (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Time Warp"
South African single A-side label
Song by
from the album The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Released1975 (1975)
Composer(s)Richard O'Brien, Richard Hartley
Lyricist(s)Richard O'Brien

"Time Warp" is a song featured in the 1973 rock musical The Rocky Horror Show, its 1975 film adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and a 2016 TV production. The name is also used for the dance performed during the chorus of the song. The song is both an example and a parody of the dance song genre, with much of the lyrics consisting of dance step instructions. This dance is one of the major audience-participation activities during screenings of the film and performances of the show.[2] It has become a popular song beyond the reaches of the film and show, and is often played at dances and weddings.[3]

The song is in the key of A major.[4]


The choreography for "Time Warp".

"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.[5]

The song begins at 19:35 in the film's DVD release. It consists of verses sung by alternating characters, serving as the introduction to two of them, and choruses sung by the "Transylvanians" (film) or "Phantoms" (play), and the Criminologist/Narrator (played by Charles Gray in the film). The characters that sing the verses are, in order, Riff-Raff, Magenta, and Columbia (played in the film by Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, and Little Nell Campbell). After the second full chorus, Columbia often launches into her tap dance.[citation needed]

The order of the solos varies in certain recordings. In the film and Roxy cast album, Columbia's solo is right after Magenta's, with Columbia's tap dance following the second chorus. Recent stage performances have the solos in this order but with Columbia's tap dance immediately after her solo, leaving only two choruses. Occasionally, Columbia's solo and tap dance follow the chorus after Magenta's solo.[citation needed]

Meat Loaf's voice is prominent in the chorus of the film version of the song.[citation needed] The song is reprised briefly at the end of the film, in flashback, and in the show as an encore led by Dr. Frank N. Furter.[5]


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
South Africa[citation needed] 12
Original Australian cast recording
Chart (1977) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 85
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Chart (1980–81) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 3
Canada (RPM Top Singles) 12
Europe (Euro Digital Songs) (Billboard) 16
France 20
UK (UK Singles Chart) 13
U.S. (Billboard) (Hot 100)[7] 29

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 66
Chart (1981) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 27


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other appearances[edit]

The Hillywood Show used the song in a Doctor Who parody, which David Tennant called "extraordinary".[11][12][13]

Italian comedy rock band Elio e le Storie Tese recorded a parody cover of the song in 1996, entitled "Balla coi barlafüs" (i.e. "Dance with the idiots" in Milanese dialect), with completely new Italian lyrics which mock Umberto Bossi and his attempt, earlier that year, to rally up a human chain in order to link Polesine and Monviso, symbolically blocking the course of the river Po. Apart from the lyrics, the band's cover follows the original song in every detail. The music video for the cover, made as the opening credits sequence for the 1996 edition of Gialappa's Band's popular sport satire show Mai dire Gol, is also a very faithful reproduction of the original scene from the film (characters, sets, props, costumes and dances), down to the Criminologist, played by Giacomo Poretti of Aldo, Giovanni e Giacomo, asking what sort of dance is it. Daniele Luttazzi and Sabrina Ferilli starred as Brad and Janet, band leader Elio appeared as Riff Raff, Marina Massironi starred as Magenta, while the rest of the band (together with the cast of the show) were featured as Transylvanians.[14]

In the episode of The Drew Carey Show titled "New York and Queens", the song was played in alternating fashion with Peaches & Herb's 1978 disco hit "Shake Your Groove Thing", during a dance off in front of a movie theater, in which one group wishes to see Rocky Horror Picture Show and another wants to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.[15]

In an episode for Season 27 of The Simpsons, the townsfolk sing a parody of the song, singing about all the naughty things adults do on Halloween.

Tenacious D released a music video using the song to promote voting in the 2020 US presidential election, with the slightly altered lyrics "it's just a jump to the left, and not a step to the right!"[16]

Jane The Virgin features an episode (chapter sixty-seven) where Mateo and Jane's boyfriend, Adam, dance to “The Time Warp.”[citation needed]


  1. ^ Segretto, Mike (2022). "1975". 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Minute - A Critical Trip Through the Rock LP Era, 1955–1999. Backbeat. pp. 313–314. ISBN 9781493064601.
  2. ^ "TRHPS Official Fan Site: Participation: How to do the Time Warp". rockyhorror.com.
  3. ^ "Teach Yourself The Time Warp". Disco Therapy.
  4. ^ "Time Warp - Sheet Music". Scribd.
  5. ^ a b Thompson, Dave (2016). The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Campy Cult Classic. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 9781495063770.
  6. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 281. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  8. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1980". Kent Music Report. January 5, 1981. Retrieved January 17, 2022 – via Imgur.
  9. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1981". Kent Music Report. January 4, 1982. p. 7. Retrieved January 11, 2022 – via Imgur.
  10. ^ "British single certifications – Richard O'brien/Patricia Quinn – Time Warp". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  11. ^ Anderson, Kyle (May 27, 2014). "The Hillywood Show: Doctor Who Parody Does The Time Warp". Nerdist.com. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  12. ^ Campbell, Tina (May 28, 2014). "David Tennant does the Time Warp in Doctor Who musical parody video". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "David Tennant Knows Who We Are!". YouTube. April 21, 2015. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  14. ^ Original music video on YouTube
  15. ^ "Drew Carey Show's Time Warp/Groove Thing Mashup". YouTube. January 25, 2013. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  16. ^ "Music Video". YouTube. October 27, 2020. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.

External links[edit]