"Shock the Monkey" is a 1982 song by Peter Gabriel. It was released as a single and peaked at number 29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart.[1] The song was Gabriel's first Top 40 hit in the US. In the UK, the song charted at number 58. It was included on Gabriel's fourth self-titled album, issued in the U.S. as Security. As well as its "relentlessly repeated hook" that "sounded nothing like anything else on the radio at the time",[2] the track is known for its popular and somewhat disturbing music video featuring Gabriel (in white face paint) and a frightened-looking capuchin monkey.

Contents[edit | edit source]

 [hide*1 Interpretation

Interpretation[edit][edit | edit source]

Due to its title and the content of the video, the song is frequently assumed to be either an animal rights song or a reference to the famous experiments byStanley Milgram described in his book Obedience to Authority.[3] It is neither, although another Gabriel song, "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)", from his 1986 album So, does deal directly with Milgram. Gabriel himself has described "Shock the Monkey" as "a love song" that examines how jealousy can release one's basic instincts; the monkey is not a literal monkey, but a metaphor for one's feelings of jealousy.[4]

Releases[edit][edit | edit source]

"Shock the Monkey" was released as a 7" picture disc in addition to the 7" and 12" black vinyl singles. Club DJ remix service Hot Tracks crafted an 8:12 version that intersperses verses and choruses sung by Gabriel in German with the more familiar English lyrics. A seven-minute-long concert version of the song appears on Gabriel's album Plays Live (1983). It is also included on the compilation albums Shaking the Tree (1990) and Hit (2003). The music video appears on the DVD compilation Play (2004).

Remix contest[edit][edit | edit source]

An online contest was held in September 2006 by Realworld Remixed in which musicians and engineers were invited to submit a remix of the song. The original tracks were made available for download, offering a rare opportunity to work with the raw material from a hit song. The winner was Multiman's "Simian Surprise".

Charts[edit][edit | edit source]

Chart (1982/1983) Peak


U.S. BillboardHot 100[5] 29

Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks




Hot Black Singles

U.S. Cashbox Pop Singles[6] 33
UK Pop Singles[7] 58

Coal Chamber featuring Ozzy Osbourne version[edit][edit | edit source]

"Shock the Monkey"
Single by Coal Chamber featuring Ozzy Osbourne
from the album Chamber Music
Released 1999
Format CD
Genre Nu metal
Label Roadrunner
Coal Chamber featuring Ozzy Osbournesingles chronology
"Not Living"


"Shock the Monkey"




The Nu metal band Coal Chamber covered "Shock the Monkey" on their 1999 album Chamber Music. The cover featured guest vocals by Ozzy Osbourne.

Track listing[edit][edit | edit source]

  1. "Shock the Monkey" (Album Version)
  2. "Shock the Monkey" (Gorilla Mix)
  3. "El Cu Cuy" (Man-To-Monster Mix)

Music video[edit][edit | edit source]

The music video was directed by Dean Karr. It shows the band playing with Osbourne and it has shots of a monkey.

Other cover versions[edit][edit | edit source]

  • Hawaiian recording artist Don Ho covered "Shock the Monkey" on the 2002 compilation album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear
  • Finnish metal band Suburban Tribe covered "Shock the Monkey" on their 2007 album Recollection.
  • The Vitamin String Quartet featured the song on their Peter Gabriel tribute album.
  • The Italian acid jazz pioneers GAZZARA covered the song in a Motown 60's style for their forthcoming sixth album "The Bossa Lounge Experience" released in 2013 by Irma Records.

Use in other media[edit][edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.