Wednesday, January 4, 2023

"Love Shack" by The B-52's

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  4018
Date:  09/02/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  3
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, Rock


Pop Bits:  The mid-80s were a particularly bad time for The B-52's. The biggest blow to the band was when guitarist Ricky Wilson died in '85 due to complications from AIDS during the recording of their fourth album Bouncing Off the Satellites. Following his death, the band attempted to rally and finish the album. In '86, the somewhat disjointed effort was released. While it would spawn a pair of Dance Top 10s, the LP fizzled at #85. The loss of Wilson and their dwindling popularity then led the band to go on an indefinite hiatus. A couple years later in '88, guitarist/keyboardist Keith Strickland began writing some new tunes and it wasn't long before the band started to reform and collaborate. This time around, the songs that they were coming up with had less quirk and more maturity than their previous works. For their initial set of tracks, the band worked with producer Nile Rodgers. Then they switched to producer Don Was for the balance of the songs. Cosmic Thing was set to go in the summer of '89 and its first single, "Channel Z," was issued out. While it would not make the Pop chart, the song became a hit with the college crowd and it would end up reaching #1 on the Modern Rock chart. It was an encouraging start, but things would explode for the band with this next single, which quickly became their second #1 at Modern Rock. It also reached #7 at Dance. That exposure along with a popular MTV video helped the tune get on the Pop chart. It would not only become the band's first Pop Top 40 hit, but their first Top 10. The song was popular enough to linger on the chart for a long while and that helped the single go gold. In turn, the album would also become their first to crack the Top 10 (#4). Just after "Love Shack" reached its peak, the album would go platinum.

ReduxReview:  The 80s generated plenty of iconic songs, but this one is easily among the best. It still remains a party staple and continues to get a lot of airplay. It is infectious, fun, hooky, quirky, and has unforgettable, quotable lines. It was also great that the band got hooked up with producer Don Was. His work took the B's songs to a new level. The arrangement for this track that included the horns was spot-on and Was' production was crisp and punchy. The band never sounded better. They went from being that oddball "Rock Lobster" Athens band to major mainstream players with Cosmic Thing and it was a well-deserved hit.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There were a couple of inspirations for this song that the band wrote together. For singers Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson, they thought about a local Athens, Georgia, haunt that was out in the country called the Hawaiian Ha-Le. It was an oddball place where the band used to hang out. For singer/keyboardist Kate Pierson, she thought of her own little cabin in the woods where she lived in the 70s. The band would hang out and jam there and it is reportedly where one of their signature tunes, "Rock Lobster," was born. Apparently, both places had tin roofs, which led to one of the most famous lines from an 80s hit, "tin roof, rusted." That bit of the song was a happy accident. It seemed that during the recording of the song, Cindy Wilson was doing her vocal part when the track suddenly stopped. However, she kept on and finished the line she was on. That sudden stop of the music followed by Wilson's line sounded so cool that they worked the break into the track.  2) The song's memorable video became a favorite on MTV. It would end up winning two MTV Music Video Awards including for Best Group Video. Shot at a friend's house in upstate New York, the video featured a cameo by a soon-to-be drag superstar. RuPaul was a struggling drag queen in Atlanta when she got cast as an extra for the "Love Shack" video. At one point, it seems that RuPaul had to take charge. The director wanted to do a Soul Train style line dance, but no one really knew how to do that. So RuPaul took charge and taught them how to do the famous Soul Train line. In late '92, RuPaul's career would take off thanks to the #45 Pop/#2 Dance hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)." She'd reach a new level of stardom starting in 2009 with the hit Emmy-winning TV show RuPaul's Drag Race.

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3 comments:

  1. Don’t you mean late 1992 for RuPaul on his hit Work It?

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    1. Nope. "Supermodel (You Better Work)" was released at the end of '92 and became a hit early in '93. I think you are referring to the same song as the lyrics say "work it." There is no RuPaul song to my knowledge titled "Work It."

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    2. I think they meant it came out in 1992, but your post says "late '82".

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