Title: “Beauty and the Beat”
Artist: The Go-Go’s
Release date: July 1981
Favorite track: “We Got the Beat”
The Go-Go’s go and they don’t stop.
Listening to the all-female band is like taking a shot of espresso. It’s upbeat, punchy and gives legitimacy to the cliché of putting pep in your step.
The band’s debut album, “Beauty and the Beat,” was a hit in a major way — actually, it was a lot of hits. “Our Lips are Sealed,” “We Got the Beat,” “Lust to Love,” “This Town” and “How Much More” are all packed onto this record.
This album is often considered revolutionary because it featured five women who played their own instruments and because of its commercial success as a debut album. But, with a group of talented women operating under a name like The Go-Go’s, how could you not expect the band to come out of the gate with the “it” factor?
I’m normally not so full of myself I feel like I can dedicate a column to someone, but I’ll make an exception. My friend, Shelby DeSoto, loves this band and the album.
If I didn’t get anything else right in this column, she said to be sure to say The Go-Go’s are “pioneers of pop punk.” Check.
It's an important point to make because The Go-Go's are so often perceived as strictly pop. But, if you listen closely, you can definitely hear the garage-band, fast-paced, edgy lyrics and sound attributed to the punk genre.
The opening track is a familiar one.
I don’t know many people who haven’t chanted the chorus to “Our Lips are Sealed” after hearing it played on the radio, in a department store or as the background of a movie. But, if you haven’t had the chance to cruise through the music video featuring the band in a 1960 Buick, do it.
It doesn’t matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
— “Our Lips are Sealed”
“Tonite” and “This Town” stand out to me because they have an edge. I hear a lot of genres tucked into these tracks — pop, punk-rock and a hint of folk. I feel a '70s rock influence with a mix of '80s synthesizers, and they sound like something you might hear amid today’s hits.
“We Got the Beat” is the first Go-Go’s song I ever heard, and still my favorite. The women were based in Los Angeles, and this new-wave song definitely has California vibes.
“Our Lips are Sealed,” “How Much More,” “We Got the Beat” and songs from other Go-Go’s albums are featured in the recently launched Broadway musical “Head Over Heels.” The jukebox musical is based on the Jeff Whitty’s novel of the same name and opened on Broadway in July.
“Automatic” is the only slow song on the album. In consequence, it really accentuates Belinda Carlisle’s rock ’n’ roll-geared vocals and the transitions from elongated to staccato enunciation.
The tongue-in-cheek album cover features an adorable illustration of The Go-Go’s in towels and face masks and the back cover in a bubble bath. While it looks like the women are embracing their cheery band persona, it’s actually more of an inside joke.
While the music is peppy, these women have an edge. The band was born in the Los Angeles punk music scene, and the members dabbled in drugs and debauchery.
But, the images are still undeniably darling.