Guilty Pleasure: The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat

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    Although my musical tastes lean toward alternative acts such as Pixies, as well as classic heavy metal/punk bands, in the vein of early Motley Crue or Social Distortion, I’m actually quite open to a variety of styles (some would say to a fault). I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for a catchy tune, and my friends have sent more than one of my CDs flying out the car window at high speed.

    I wasn’t yet a teenager when I first saw a video of five California girls cruising in a classic red convertible and frolicking through a water fountain in all their early ’80s glitz and glory. The video for “Our Lips are Sealed” was my first introduction to Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock. It was love at first sight. The Go-Go’s, along with KISS, were one of the first to win my rock ‘n’ roll heart. They weren’t exactly L7, but those girls could rock.

    The Go-Go’s first album, Beauty and the Beat, was an incredibly catchy, power pop classic with punk undertones. They were valley girls with electric guitars and attitude – a more optimistic Sex Pistols dressed in drag and dipped in sugar. Songs such as “How Much More”, “Can’t Stop the World” and, of course, “Our Lips are Sealed” showcase the band’s energy and song writing flair. “This Town”, with lyrics like, “We’re all dreamers- we’re all whores / Discarded stars / Like worn out cars,” reveal a grittier side.  “We Got the Beat” is one of the most recognizable and danceable songs of the ’80s, setting the tone for the classic film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The band definitely had its own sound, and unlike many of today’s acts, the Go-Go’s didn’t rely on outside songwriters or drum machines for success.

    The band released two other studio albums in their prime, Vacation and Talk Show, before creative differences and drug problems forced the group to disband in 1985. They reunited in 1990 for a benefit concert and have toured on and off ever since, releasing a couple of compilations and one studio album (God Bless The Go-Go’s) along the way.

    The Go-Go’s may not be considered musical geniuses or the coolest band on the planet, but they have a timeless energy and a knack for writing songs that kick around in your memory. I don’t listen to them like I once did, but if a Go-Go’s tune comes on the radio I still turn it up – I just have to guard the dial with my life.

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