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 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.[4][5] The song became one of their signature tunes[6] 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. "Rock Lobster" was well received by critics and was placed at No. 147 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[7]

Composition and themes[edit]

The DB Records single version lasts 4:37 and is faster[vague] and rawer than the 1979 Warner single version. However, it has the same lyrics as the second version, but with extra lines in the listing of marine animals. The 1979 single version is an edit itself from the album version, which lasts about seven minutes and contains an extra verse.

According to a "Behind the Vinyl" video with Fred Schneider for CHBM-FM, the song was mostly inspired by a discotheque 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.[8]

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 consists of the words "Rock Lobster!" repeated 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. Pierson played the song's bass line on a Korg SB-100 synthesizer.


Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the song "incredibly infectious" and "memorable".[6]


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.[9] "Rock Lobster" reached No. 37 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1979, and when reissued in 1986 it peaked at No. 12 as a double A-side with "Planet Claire".[10] In Australia it peaked at No. 3 in 1980.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

In the spring of 1980, John Lennon, whose post-Beatles music career had been on hiatus for nearly five years while he helped raise his son Sean, was prompted to record again after hearing "Rock Lobster";[20] 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!'"[21][22] His return to the studio led to the release of Double Fantasy.[20] At a 2002 B-52's concert in New York, Yoko Ono joined the band on stage for the performance of this song.[23]

The song appears in the Family Guy episodes "The Cleveland–Loretta Quagmire" (in which Peter plays it on guitar),[24] "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q" (as "Iraq Lobster") and in the 2008 movie The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (as "Rock Monster").[25][26]

Early Commodore Amiga 500 units had "B52/ROCK LOBSTER" etched on the main circuit board.[27]

The song is playable in the video games Just Dance 4[28] and Rock Band 3.[29]

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).[30]

This song was covered by the crossover thrash band Dead Horse on their 1991 album Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers.[31]

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. ^ "Lyrics: Rock Lobster by The B-52s". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The B-52s – The B-52's". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: 147 – The B-52's, 'Rock Lobster'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  8. ^ "Behind The Vinyl: "Rock Lobster" with Fred Schneider from The B-52's" on YouTube
  9. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0169a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  10. ^ David Roberts, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-00-8.
  11. ^ a b "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  12. ^ " – The B-52's – Rock Lobster". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  13. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "The B-52s – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 17, 1980". Archived from the original on September 13, 2012.. Cash Box.
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rock Lobster". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  17. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  18. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  19. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 34, No. 6, December 20 1980". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Pemberton, Pat (March 5, 2010). "B-52s Honored to Have Inspired John Lennon's Return to Recording". Archived from the original on August 6, 2012.. Spinner.
  21. ^ "John Lennon – Double Fantasy". Archived from the original on December 3, 2010.. Rolling Stone.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ Alex, Michael (February 5, 2002). "B-52′s Show They're Still From Planet Claire At NY Date". MTV News. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  24. ^ Voynar, Kim (June 13, 2005). "Family Guy: The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire". The Huffington Post. AOL TV. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  25. ^ Breimeier, Russ (December 1, 2007). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything soundtrack". Christianity Today International. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  26. ^ Sims, Robert (January 13, 2008). "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie Review". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  27. ^ "Mystery Motherboards". Amiga History Guide. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  28. ^ Onyett, Charles (June 4, 2012). "E3 2012: Ubisoft Announces Just Dance 4". IGN. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  29. ^ Good, Owen (August 20, 2010). "Harmonix Confirms Entire Rock Band 3 Setlist". Kotaku. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  30. ^ Rutherford, Kevin (January 13, 2016). "Panic! at the Disco Gets 'Good Time' Rolling in Hot Rock Songs Top 10". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  31. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Dead Horse – Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers". AllMusic. Retrieved October 11, 2018.

External links[edit]