Thursday, November 03, 2016

Songoftheday 11/3/16 - I'm headin' down the Atlanta highway, lookin' for a love getaway...


"Love Shack" - The B-52's
from the album Cosmic Thing (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #3 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 17

Today's Song of the Day comes from the B-52's, who came together in the college town of Athens, Georgia in the mid-70s, with the "beehive" hairdo donned by member Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson inspiring their name. Along with campy carnival barker-style vocalist Fred Schneider, drummer Keith Strickland, and Cindy's brother Ricky on guitars, they took their underground indie release "Rock Lobster" to a national level after being signed by Warner Brothers Records, and while it peaked at a modest #56 on the American pop chart in 1978, its lasting presence in rock culture far transcends that number. Internationally, the single went to #1 in Canada, #3 in Australia, and top-40 in the UK. It appeared on their self-titled debut album, and with track "Planet Claire" and "Dance This Mess Around" went to #24 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart, spending nearly half a year on the list. As the eighties dawned, the group released their sophomore effort Wild Planet, which itself soared to #18 on the American albums chart. While the lead single "Private Idaho" stalled down at #74, it, along with album tracks "Give Me Back My Man" and "Party Out Of Bounds", climbed to #5 on the dance chart. After a series of recordings with the Talking Heads' David Byrne resulted in the EP Mesopotamia, the band's true third full-length, Whammy, came out in the spring of 1983. Again, the lead single "Legal Tender" hung around in the bottom parts of the pop chart, peaking at #81, but it made the dance top ten at #9. After such a hectic first half of the decade, the five of them were exhausted, taking a three-year break before their next record, Bouncing Off The Satellites, but in that time Ricky passed away from complications from AIDS. With Strickland taking over his guitar role to complete the album, their mojo was totally destroyed by the loss, and while the amazingly fun "Summer Of Love" became their biggest club hit at #3, they missed the Hot 100. Spending another three years to regroup, the remaining four members teamed up with producers Don Was (of the quirky soul/rock outfit Was (Not Was)) and Nile Rodgers (of Chic and Madonna's Like A Virgin album) to record their fifth full-length work Cosmic Thing. The album, a distilled and "tight" version of their sound, was put out in the summer of 1989, with the title track being serviced to rock radio first, reaching #7 on the Modern Rock chart in Billboard. Next, the anti-pop-culture screed "Channel Z" came out as the proper first single, and that climbed to #1 on the Modern Rock list for three weeks. But the other song that track shared a CD single with gave them a success they could never have dreamed of.

"Love Shack", written by the band and produced by Was, was at first listen instantly familiar like it's been around for years but so far from stale that it provoked a response anytime it came on in the club or on the radio. Stacked with what would be "meme" lines today, like "Tin Roof...Rusted", and "You're What!?!?!!" (the latter I'm certain was a run on coming out of the closet), the single was an instant hit on radio, as well as MTV, with a party-style video featuring a pre-fame RuPaul dancin' it up...


"Love Shack" became the B-52's first top-10 pop hit in the U.S. in November of 1989. The single also spent a month atop Billboard's Modern Rock radio chart, while the 12" remix reached #7 on their Dance Club Play list. Internationally, the record went to #1 in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, hit #2 in the UK, #5 in Canada, and reached the top-20 in Belgium (#12) and the Netherlands (#15). The music video won a MTV Music Video Award as well.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's the band appearing on Letterman to promote the single...


...and the 12" remix that sent the song to the top ten on the dance chart...


In 1999, a new set of remixes brought the song back to the British chart at #66...



...and the band again as they were being inducted in to the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame in 2000...


They teamed up with country duo Sugarland in 2011...


...and finally, the B-52s in 2012...


Up tomorrow: Grown up Babys frown no more.

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