So why is The B-52’s Cosmic Thing on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
Cosmic Thing is an album that zooms me back to my sophomore year of high school. The memory starts with a brief, shocking incident and then broadens out to a very specific time in my life, and in the world too, really.
Let’s start with the shocker.
When I was a kid, I loved air travel. It was exciting. It was pre-9/11. I was fortunate enough to go to some cool places, such as my grandparents’ place in Orlando, Florida, which was right on the edge of Sea World’s property (there was a fireworks show with dinner nightly!).
My family flew from New York City to San Antonio, Texas for my brother’s wedding around the time I turned fifteen. We changed planes in Houston, and a little while after takeoff, the plane suddenly went into complete freefall for about a seconds, perhaps two, though it felt like the longest second or two of my entire life. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since, but I’m certainly a bit more of an anxious flyer ever since.
I was listening to The B-52’s Cosmic Thing on cassette tape – and I’m pretty sure it was “Roam” specifically – during the incident.
Otherwise, the trip was great. It was my first visit to Texas, and I thoroughly enjoyed the local cuisine, particularly Texas-style barbeque and chili. And as a pop culture nerd even back then, I immediately recalled that San Antonio’s famous River Walk was featured in the 1984 spy movie, Cloak & Dagger.
The other big event that same year (1989) was a global one: the falling of the Berlin Wall*, a wall and a city that I happen to share a last name with.
* In the late 1990s I got to have some really unique experiences in East Berlin, a tale I’ll need to get to on Pop Thruster down the line.
I was fascinated with European history from an early age, including taking in a healthy dose of World War II and Cold War movies and novels. Therefore, I had an appreciation for what the breakup of the Soviet Union and the “end of communism” in Europe meant.
And now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in its second year, it’s worth thinking about how supporting our friends around the world is a good thing and a self-serving thing at the same time.
But let’s get back to Cosmic Thing!
“Love Shack” remains one of the most enduring hit songs from the 1980s, and for good reason. As with all things B-52’s, there’s an infectious spirit to it, an earnest, let loose party vibe that can’t be faked and/or replicated. And the unique vocal interplay between Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Kate Pierson is incredible.
What is the “Love Shack” and what are its rules, exactly? Well, it’s a little old place where love rules, and there’s also apparently a jukebox. Probably best not to ask too many questions beyond that.
“Roam,” beyond possibly being a harbinger of airborne trauma, is impossibly effervescent, catchy, and upbeat. I’m a guy who loves a good downbeat grunge or punk song as much as anyone, and even so “Roam” never fails to put me in a good mood. It’s magical, dare I say.
Nothing else on Cosmic Thing quite matches the peaks of “Love Shack” and “Roam,” but it’s all groovily and shiny late ‘80s B-52s fun. The vocal harmonies on “Topaz” are particularly wonderful.
Some stats & info about The B-52 – Cosmic Thing
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Dance Music, Pop Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was Cosmic Thing released? 1989
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #479 out of 1,000
The B-52’s Cosmic Thing on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from The B-52’s Cosmic Thing that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale, and it’s about to set sail. I got me a car, it sits about twenty, so come on and bring your jukebox money.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.