The B-52's Cosmic Thing gave them two of the most unexpected gifts in their incredible career: a major, out-of-nowhere pop hit, and a second to go with it.
Bouncing back from unspeakable tragedy - the passing of guitarist and founding member Ricky Wilson due to complications from AIDS in 1985 - Cosmic Thing made the quirky Athens, Georgia combo unexpected MTV darlings a decade into their time together thanks to "Love Shack," a crossover pop anthem that peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
But within a year, the group would score another Top 5 hit off the LP with "Roam," a tuneful travelogue that sounded unlike anything in the B-52's discography. Part of that can be chalked up to Nile Rodgers, the super-producer and CHIC co-founder who helmed hits for Madonna, David Bowie and Duran Duran in the '80s. But another standout facet of "Roam" is how vocalist Fred Schneider cedes the spotlight entirely to singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, who bring sweet leads and fresh harmonies to the bouncy melody.
Years later, Wilson revealed the "deep hidden meaning" - a phrase https://www.vulture.com/2015/07/nile-rodgers-chic-its-about-time.htmlRodgers would popularize in his hitmaking philosophy - behind "Roam," suggesting it was actually a song not about traveling from place to place but the mysteries of loss. "'Roam' has many meanings, but it’s a beautiful song about death," she told Classic Pop magazine in 2019. "It’s about when your spirit leaves your body and you can just roam.”
Like "Love Shack," "Roam" soared to No. 3 on the Hot 100 while also reaching charts in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other places that hadn't caught B-52's fever since "Rock Lobster" at the end of the previous decade. It also earned the group a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. While it became a shining moment for Pierson and Wilson, it would soon, temporarily, become a song that only Pierson would tackle, when Wilson took a brief hiatus from the band in the first half of the '90s.
But Pierson had no hard feelings for her bandmate, then or now. "We’re still friends, which is a miracle after 40 years of touring," she told The Guardian in 2019. "We’ve taken a lot of breaks too, and we haven’t made that many records, so we’ve taken the pressure off. We’re friends enough to give each other space, and we know what pushes each others’ buttons...It’s like those families where it’s dysfunctional and sometimes it’s better not to say things. But we still hang out together, and we eat together and party together. That’s kind of miraculous, that we love each other.”