Our Lips Aren’t Sealed: A Song-by-Song review of the Go-Go’s “Beauty and the Beat”

By Claudia

Listen to “The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat” on Spotify while reading this!

Photo Credit: Robert Matheu/Camera Press/Redux

As far as I was concerned, the Go-Go’s were simply a band from the eighties who narrowly avoided one-hit wonder status thanks to having two big hits, Our Lips Are Sealed and We Got the Beat. A few weeks ago, I fell upon a copy of their debut album and, as I was spinning it, realised how much attention they still deserve in today’s music world. It’s one of the first where women played their instruments, and its influence can still be noticed in pop today. To attempt to do it justice, here is my track by track review of the album that put them on the map.

From the first few bars of Our Lips Are Sealed, the five members make their presence felt by coming in one after the other, offering something new to a song that already sounds great. In effect, no one overpowers the others, as they all bring something unique to the table; the song is so inconveniently catchy that it becomes impossible to hum, as one would have to hum every members’ part at the same time.

The next song, How Much More, brings the beat up to make sure that if you weren’t dancing along before, you are now. The lyrics pertain to most, as they tell the story of someone heartbroken by their crush walking around with their girlfriend. The dichotomy between the song’s upbeat melody and the sad lyrics is particularly interesting, because it mirrors our reflex to hide our emotions behind a wall of confidence. Lastly, Gina Shock’s drumming is definitely the highlight of the song. It is reminiscent of the Go-Go’s punk past and tricks people who do not listen to pop into giving the band a much deserved chance.

Tonite, a song about getting ready to go out and knowing that they’ll be the talk of the week, foreshadows the band’s skyrocket to success. However, it isn’t the overt demonstration of confidence that makes this song endearing, but rather Charlotte Caffey’s lead guitar melody. All in all, this is a solid track made even more interesting in the aftermath of the band’s success.

Following this track is the eerie intro to Lust to Love. How the band was seen as America’s sweethearts with a song like this on their debut album is still a mystery to me. The lyrics take a sharp turn into PG-13 territory by telling the story of someone who seems to have fallen in love with their friend with benefits. As I mentioned earlier, every member offers something unique to the table and this song is no exception, as this time, Jane Wiedlin’s rhythm guitar is the key component in creating the track’s mysterious and osé feeling. In sum, the mature lyrics pertaining to a subject that is seldom addressed by women and the general feel of the song are what makes it special.

For the last song on side A of the album, we have This Town. It follows in the vein of the previous song by conveying an aura of mystery in it’s intro. It also follows in its predecessor’s tracks through its heavy lyric matter. This time, however, the song seems to be criticizing the sheep mentality of modern society. Through lyrics such as “This town is our town/It’s so glamorous/Bet you’d live here if you could/And be one of us,” the band shows their discontent with the current status quo. Consequently, it is understood that the band is not seeking to gain the approval of the masses by assimilating to the status quo, but rather by unabashedly being themselves.

Did you know? Go-Go’s vocalist “Belinda Carlisle ” was also famous for her solo career, in particular the song “Heaven Is a Place On Earth”, which became a 80’s disco megahit.

The band’s second big hit, We Got the Beat, is the opening song for the second side of the album. Much like the album’s opening song, everyone comes in and enriches an already excellent song. In a way, they are trying to tell the audience: “If you didn’t realise we were special before, you will now!” Subsequently, it’s now time for the bass to shine. This may be the only modern pop song, so to speak, where the bass line is more iconic than the guitar licks. Nonetheless, Gina Shock’s expert drumming shines once again during the bridge. As such, one must admit that the lyrics are catchy, but the song’s true unspoken heroes are Kathy Valentine on bass and Gina Shock on the drums.

Fading Fast is the most emotionally honest song on the album. Overall, the music is somewhat minimalist compared to the rest of the record; it takes a step back to allow Belinda Carlisle’s vocal performance and Caffey’s lyricism to take the front. If there was one song on this album that was made to sing dramatically along to in a car on a torrentially rainy day after a bad break up, this is it.

Automatic is a rad song. However, You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep is welcomed with open arms after the sad and emotional lyrics of the two previous songs. It’s nothing too crazy – the lyrics are fun and the melody has a throwback to the 50’s charm to it. It definitely isn’t the strongest song on the album, but it is perfectly fine as one of the last tracks on the second side.

Skidmarks on My Heart is my least favourite song on the album. The music is fine, and the chorus is catchy, but there is something about using car metaphors that seems to miss the mark here. I understand that it’s supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that many men would rather spend their time playing with their cars than spending time with their significant other, but it sometimes seems to fall a bit flat. The song is fun, but in and of itself, forgettable.

Lastly, we have Can’t Stop The World. Had this album not been blessed with two gems in Our Lips are Sealed and We Got the Beat, this song could have easily become the lead single and had an equal amount of success. It’s fun, upbeat, honest, and has a great guitar break. All of the instruments have their time to shine, the vocals are on point, as usual, and it’s just a perfect song to close the album with. It’s memorable enough to make you want to pick it up and start it all over again.

To conclude, Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Go’s is definitely an underrated classic. The more upbeat songs are perfect to get everyone dancing and singing, and the slower, more emotional songs are perfect songs to listen to if you’re feeling blue. Consequently, the mix of the two offers the listener the perfect emotional roller coaster and this is definitely an album that could bring your mood up no matter how you were feeling before starting it.

  • Favourite song: This Town
  • Least favourite song: Skidmarks on My Heart
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