"Yakety Yak" is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Coasters and released on Atlantic Records in 1958, spending seven weeks as #1 on the R&B charts and a week as number one on the Top 100 pop list. This song was one of a string of singles released by The Coasters between 1957 and 1959 that dominated the charts, one of the biggest performing acts of the rock and roll era.
A-side label of the U.S. vinyl single
|Single by The Coasters|
|B-side||"Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart"|
|Format||45 rpm, 78 rpm|
|Recorded||March 17, 1958|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|Songwriter(s)||Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller|
|Producer(s)||Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller|
|The Coasters singles chronology|
The song is a "playlet," a word Stoller used for the glimpses into teenage life that characterized the songs Leiber and Stoller wrote and produced. The lyrics describe the listing of household chores to a kid, presumably a teenager, the teenager's response ("yakety yak") and the parents' retort ("don't talk back") — an experience very familiar to a middle-class teenager of the day. Leiber has said the Coasters portrayed "a white kid’s view of a black person’s conception of white society." The serio-comic street-smart “playlets” etched out by the songwriters were sung by the Coasters with a sly clowning humor, while the screaming saxophone of King Curtis filled in hot, honking bursts in the up-tempo doo-wop style. The group was openly "theatrical" in style—they were not pretending to be expressing their own experience.
The threatened punishment for not taking out the garbage and sweeping the floor is, in the song's humorous lyrics:
- "You ain't gonna rock and roll no more,"
And the refrain is:
- "Yakety yak; don't talk back."
- Québécois duo Les Jérolas recorded in 1959 a French version "Rouspet' pas"
- The sax solo by King Curtis inspired the 1963 Boots Randolph song "Yakety Sax"
- Sha Na Na performed this as part of their set at the original Woodstock Festival and recorded 2 live covers of the song in 1971 and 1972
- The song was covered by Jan & Dean and was planned to be released on their album Carnival of Sound in 1968. Carnival of Sound was not released until 2010.
- Lee Perry released a cover version in 1969 (as Lee Perry and the Upsetters), altering the lyric "You ain't gonna rock and roll no more" to "You ain't gonna reggae reggae reggae no more"
- Vince Vance & The Valiants, one of multiple groups parodying Barbara Ann as "Bomb Iran" in 1980, created a similarly themed 2005 parody called "Yakety Yak (Bomb Iraq)".
- Stand by Me, the 1986 classic coming of age drama included "Yakety Yak" on its iconic soundtrack.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a version for the 1987 Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Dave's Dream Cabin."
- The song has also been mixed & recorded by 2 Live Crew for the 1988 movie Twins. In the same film, Julius (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sings along, with hilarious results, as the song plays in his earphones while flying to the United States.
- The song is sung by the Coasters in the 1988 horror-comedy Phantom of the Ritz which the four-man group makes a cameo appearance.
- It has also served as the theme to Clive Anderson's chat-show Clive Anderson Talks Back during the 1990s, and as the opening theme of the 1988 movie The Great Outdoors.
- It was the inspiration and theme song for the 2002-2003 Canadian/Australian animated series, Yakkity Yak.
- A modified version, "Yakety Yak, Take it Back", was used in a 1990 all-star PSA for the Take It Back Foundation.
- A music video starring Plucky Duck as the kid tasked with chores, and a group of anthropomorphic yaks in police officer suits, aired on the 90th episode of Tiny Toon Adventures and used in The Plucky Duck Show.
- The song was parodied for use in adverts for Radox bath soak and McCain Micro Chips in the 1980s and 1990s respectively.
- The song name was used for the code name of Ubuntu 16.10, a Linux operating system with its versions all named after animals.
- Phantom Planet covered this song for the soundtrack of the 1999 film Mumford.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 125.
- "The Coasters". Rock Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
- Anthony DeCurtis, & James Henke (eds) (1980). The RollingStone: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music ((3rd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc. p. 98. ISBN 0-679-73728-6.
- Matos, Michaelangelo (April 13, 2005). "Yakety Yak". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
- Leiber & Stoller interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
- Boots Randolph, Boots Randolph's Yakety Sax! Retrieved February 6, 2015
- "The Show Band that Wouldn't Die". Houston Press, June 30, 2005.
- "The Great Outdoors (1988) - Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- Yakkity Yak Intro. YouTube. January 12, 2011.
- "'Yakety Yak – Take It Back!' Music Video". Take It Back Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- "Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Y is for…". www.markshuttleworth.com. Retrieved 2016-11-02.