While we would like to contrive some sort of cosmic reason for compiling this list today, we confess: We got “Mesopotamia” stuck in our heads yesterday, while walking into the office kitchen, and that was motivation enough. All of these tunes are available on 2002’s excellent two-disc Rhino set Nude On The Moon: The B-52’s anthology. Put it on, have a flaming volcano and enjoy.
an introduction to the girlish harmonies and utter silliness that were both band hallmarks.
9. “Legal Tender”
A bit of cheesy minimalism, led by Kate Pierson’s vocals and driven by a drum machine.
An effervescent comeback after guitarist Ricky Wilson’s heart-wrenching death in 1985.
7. “Good Stuff”
After some boy-girl call and response, it explodes into a humongous pop chorus.
6. “Planet Claire”
Love the spy-movie bass line. And how gutsy to go more than two minutes with no vocals whatsoever.
5. “Love Shack”
According to incriminating photographic evidence, we might possibly have performed this one night in a Key West karaoke bar.
4. “52 Girls”
A New Wave symphony of clanging guitar and snaking bass. The groove is impossibly sick.
Another sick groove. (The B-52’s were “groovy” on multiple levels.) We love how this song really seems to be about Mesopotamia—there’s a corny joke or two, but no fancy metaphors. Just a funky song about turning back the clock and meeting us by the third pyramid.
2. Private Idaho”
Slashing guitar, a melody that bobs and weaves, and a merciless hook.
1. “Rock Lobster”
A beach-party classic. Formerly our ringtone. As we were playing this in the office, our boss remarked aloud on how many different distinct parts the song has — and (as usual, Josh!) he was right. By the time the song is over, you feel like you’ve listened to about six different tunes.