Beauty & the Beat :: The Go-Go’s
Quintessential Album Tuesday
A Little History:
Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from Californian all-female band The Go-Go’s. Released in 1981 on the IRS Records label, the album was preceded by the single We Got the Beat, which became a massive club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at # 1, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. The LP sold in excess of two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the “cornerstone albums of American new wave“.
The title is a play on the European fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast“.
Beauty and the Beat was released to reviews that while positive were not outstanding, especially in light of its eventual summit of the album charts. Robert Christgau found the album good and wrote “this one’s got hooks” in his column in The Village Voice.while Jon Pareles in Rolling Stone called it a “solid, likable debut“. The album placed 10th on the annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll in The Village Voice for 1981.
The album has since gained in regard. Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it “one of the cornerstone albums of new wave” and praising its “catchy hooks and an exuberant sense of fun” onAllmusic. Eric Allen of American Songwriter, reviewing the 30th Anniversry Deluxe Edition in 2011, wrote that Beauty and the Beat is “one of the 1980s cornerstone albums of American new wave” and the “album still holds up surprisingly well thirty years later, which is a testament to the energetic spirit captured in this musical Zeitgeist of the 80s”; on the other hand, it is also “a reminder that the Go-Go’s were never able to equal or surpass the success of this landmark debut“.
“When I was about seven, I discovered the Go-Go’s“, said American actress and author Drew Barrymore in an interview to the magazine V. “I went out and bought their album Beauty and the Beat and, as the vinyl twirled, my whole world changed. I stared at the girls on the cover like they were a gateway to cool. The fact that they were girls made me feel not only invited but more important – like I could be a badass too. I looked over to my Pippi Longstocking poster on the wall and thought, Yes! I like girls who rock!”
In 2003, the album was ranked # 414 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album opener, Our Lips Are Sealed, has been covered over the years by numerous artists, and remains a staple of ’80s playlists. It is frequently cited as one of the Top 100 and Top 50 songs of the ’80s. Rolling Stone magazine has named it one of the Top 100 Pop Singles of all time. We Got the Beat has been named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
The album gained a deluxe remastered compact disc when EMI released the Beauty and the Beat 30th Anniversary Edition on May 17, 2011. Disc one features the remastered original album while disc two offers an entire live show, recorded at the Metro Club in Boston on August 20, 1981. Both Vacation (1982) and Talk Show (1984) were previously issued in remastered CD form in 1999.
What Makes This “Quintessential” In Three Sentences:
I was 12 years old when this album came out, in junior high, and that heading into adolescence traumatic and changing time in my life was fraught with every emotion imaginable. I needed things to hang on to, role models and life preservers and confidantes, and The Go-Go’s became part of those necessities, to me. Still today, in my forties, I still reach for this album to feel stronger, and to build up my confidence and mood when I hit a low point; it is that album to me, and always will be, the quintessential girl group rock pop punk new wave masterpiece.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs
1. Our Lips Are Sealed
“Can you hear them,
they talk about us?
well, that’s no surprise.”
2. Lust to Love
“Lust to love,
was the last thing I was dreaming of,
and now all I want is just to love.”
3. This Town
“This town is our town,
it is so glamorous.
Bet you’d live here if you could,
and be one of us.”
4. Can’t Stop the World
“I gave up looking for a reason,
to live with things just the way they are.”
5. How Much More
“I want to be that girl tonight.”