Yakety Yak

Yakety Yak


"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 number one on List of number one rhythm and blues hits and a week as number one on the Hot 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.


The song is a "playlet", a word Stoller used for the glimpses into teenage life that characterized the songs Lieber 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 parent's retort (don't talk back), an experience very familiar to a white 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. The screaming saxophone of King Curtis filling 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 in the song's humorous lyrics:

"You ain't gonna rock and roll no more,"
And the refrain:
"Yakety yak, Don't talk back."

Beneath the humor, Leiber and Stoller songs often made incisive points about American culture, largely by lampooning racial stereotypes.

The British novelty duo The Pipkins, whose big hit was "Gimme Dat Ding" in 1970, followed that single with their own vocal version of "Yakety Yak." It was featured on TV's American Bandstand but was rated mediocre by the studio audience, and did not reach the Top 40.

The song was later featured on Tiny Toon Adventures as a music video starring Plucky Duck.


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