Gender studies say that the song is also known for "its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars". Indeed, according to Garry Mulholland, " 'Jailhouse Rock' was always a queer lyric, in both senses. 'Number 47 said to number 3/You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see/I sure would be delighted with your company/Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.' " According to Rolling Stone, Leiber and Stoller's "theme song for Presley's third movie was decidedly silly, the kind of tongue-in-cheek goof they had come up with for the Coasters. The King, however, sang it as straight rock & roll, overlooking the jokes in the lyrics (like the suggestion of gay romance when inmate Number 47 tells Number 3, 'You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see') and then introducing Scotty Moore's guitar solo with a cry so intense that the take almost collapses." Douglas Brode thinks it "amazing that the sequence passed by the censors".
Releases and chart performance
The single, with its B-side "Treat Me Nice," was a US #1 hit for 7 weeks in the fall of 1957, and a UK #1 hit for three weeks early in 1958. In addition, "Jailhouse Rock" spent one week at the top of the country charts and reached the #2 position on the R&B charts.
Also in 1957, "Jailhouse Rock" was the lead song in an EP (extended play single), together with other songs from the film, namely "Young and Beautiful," "I Want to be Free," "Don't Leave Me Now," and "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care." It topped the Billboard EP charts, eventually selling two million copies and earning a double-platinum RIAA certification.
In 2005, the song was re-released in the UK and reached #1 for a single week. The song, which is an example of simple verse form, eventually received an additional double-platinum certification from the RIAA in 1992, representing shipments of 2 million copies of the single.