Our Lips Are Sealed

Album: Beauty And The Beat (1981)
Charted: 47 20
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Songfacts®:

  • Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin wrote this with the British musician Terry Hall, who was lead singer of The Specials. In a Songfacts interview with Wiedlin, she told the story: "In 1980 we were playing at The Whisky on Sunset Strip, and The Specials were in town from England. They came to see us, and they really liked us and asked us if we would be their opening act on their tour. I met Terry Hall, the singer of The Specials, and ended up having kind of a romance. He sent me the lyrics to 'Our Lips Are Sealed' later in the mail, and it was kind of about our relationship, because he had a girlfriend at home and all this other stuff. So it was all very dramatic. I really liked the lyrics, so I finished the lyrics and wrote the music to it, and the rest is history. And then his band, The Fun Boy Three, ended up recording it, too - they did a really great version of it, also. It was like a lot gloomier than the Go-Go's' version."

    Speaking about her relationship with Terry Hall, Wiedlin adds: "Like I said, he had a girlfriend in England, and they were talking about getting married and all this stuff. So I don't know how I got in the picture. And, you know, that's something that I did as a teenager, maybe I was 20. That's something I would never do now, knowingly enter into a relationship with someone who was with someone else. I mean, it was completely screwed on my part. Although I think when people do that, you really have to look at the person who's in the relationship, and they have to take the burden of the responsibility as well. Anyways, it was one of those things with the tragic letters, 'I just can't do this.' You know, 'I'm betrothed to another.' All that kind of stuff."
  • This was the first hit for the Go-Go's, who started as a punk band in the late '70s, but became pop superstars with the release of their first album, Beauty And The Beat. Unlike most other female pop groups, the Go-Go's wrote their own songs and were serious musicians. Despite their pure pop sound, they had a confidence and attitude that gave them lots of credibility and set them apart from other bands on the fledgling MTV network. It was MTV that really broke the song because many radio stations were reluctant to put an all-girl band on the air.
  • In America, this was released as a single in the summer of 1981 around the same time as the Beauty And The Beat album. It made a very slow climb up the charts as the group toured with The Police (The Go-Go's were signed to IRS Records, managed by Miles Copeland, the brother of The Police drummer Stewart Copeland), reaching #20 in December. The next single, "We Got The Beat," caught on faster, rising to #2 in April 1982. A month earlier, Beauty And The Beat became the first album by an all-girl band to hit #1 in America, where it stayed for six weeks.
  • The video was directed by Derek Burbidge, who did the early videos for The Police. It's low-budget but effective, showing the band performing the song in a small club and also having carefree fun outside on a sunny day. For much of the video they are playing around in a fountain, a trope later popularized in the opening credits of the TV series Friends.

    When they shot the video, there was no real concept. They rented a Buick convertible that Belinda Carlisle drove around Los Angeles with her bandmates in tow. When Wiedlin sings her part, she sitting in the vehicle, which is parked in front of a lingerie shop on La Cienega Boulevard. Carlisle didn't feel like getting out, so you can see her ducking down in the front seat. As for the fountain scene, that was shot at the Electric Fountain at Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. They figured if the cops came, it would make for good footage, but none did.
  • Jane Wiedlin sings the "hush, my darling" interlude on this song. She was a stalwart backing vocalist in the group, but was never allowed to sing lead. When she asked to do lead vocals on "Forget That Day," a song she wrote for their third album in 1984, she was rebuffed and left the group before the album was completed. The band didn't last much longer, breaking up in 1985 before releasing another album.
  • Terry Hall's version with his group The Fun Boy Three hit #7 in the UK. Jane Wiedlin told Uncut magazine: "I was so shocked when I heard the Fun Boy 3 version, because it's so moody. I don't think Terry kept a copy of the lyrics, because he got some of the words wrong."

    Producer Richard Gottehrer added: "The recordings are vastly different. They're both really good records. Fun Boy Three comes from a more serious place. I wouldn't say sinister, but it isn't as light as the rumors being spread in the Go-Go's version."
  • The Go-Go's played this on Saturday Night Live when they were the musical guests for the November 14, 1981 episode. They imbibed backstage before the performance, which they realized was a mistake when they took the stage.
  • In the 2002 movie Home Room, high school classmates Alicia (Busy Philipps) and Deanna (Erika Christensen) argue over the meaning of the song. Alicia says, "It's about a bunch of chicks trying to stay virgins," and Deanna claims, "It's about a bunch girls trying to keep a secret."
  • This was also used in these TV series:

    Deadly Class ("Snake Pit" – 2019)
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ("Mrs. X At The Gaslight" – 2017)
    Grey's Anatomy ("The Time Warp" – 2010)
    Criminal Minds ("Psychodrama" – 2006)
    The Office ("The Secret" – 2006): sung by Michael Scott, who misidentifies the group as The Bangles.
    WKRP In Cincinnati ("Rumors" – 1981)

    And in these movies:

    The End Of The Tour (2015)
    Son Of Rambow (2007)
    All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
    200 Cigarettes (1999)
    Romy And Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
  • In her memoir All I Ever Wanted, Go-Go's bass player Kathy Valentine wrote of this song: "The Go-Go's put our distinctive stamp on the arrangement and music. The parts fit together like the links of a chain, from the chugging chord intro, solid beat, and rolling bass to Charlotte's chiming arpeggio guitar notes. Instead of a common stand-alone chorus, the key lines come as a refrain at the end of each verse. Belinda sang with authority and exuberance, and the lyrics told a relatable story - it could be about friends, coworkers, or lovers. The bridge is a short, shining interlude with guitar and bass interplay behind Jane singing. It sets up perfectly the soaring verse and chorus to end the song."
  • In the UK, an early version of "We Got The Beat" was released as the group's first single in 1980 on the Stiff label. They promoted it by touring there with Stiff acts The Specials and Madness, but it went nowhere. "Our Lips Are Sealed" went to #47 in 1982 when it was released there on IRS Records, but that was their only charting single in Britain during the '80s.
  • Jane Wiedlin said in her Songfacts interview: "We'd been together about two years when I wrote that. Some of the songs from the very beginning were songs that ended up part of our repertoire. Others fell by the wayside. I remember when I wrote it, I was really afraid to show it to the band in case they didn't like it and all this stuff. But luckily they did like it."
  • In 2004, Hilary and Haylie Duff recorded this for the movie A Cinderella Story, which starred Hilary.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 23rd 1982, the Go-Go's performed "Our Lips Are Sealed" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Exactly five months earlier on August 23rd, 1981 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on December 6th, 1981 it peaked at #20 (for 2 weeks)and spent a half-year on the Top 100 (30 weeks)...
    It reached #2 in Australia and #4 in Canada.
  • Anne from Sanilac County, MiI didn't know the story behind the song as a kid, so I found it odd seeing the video for Fun Boy Three's version of this song a couple of years later. It seemed like a strange choice for a cover version relatively soon afterward.

    It was only after hearing the story, sanitized to the point of not naming names, from Jane that I immediately realized who she was talking about, and that Fun Boy Three's version wasn't really a cover, but the co-writer's own take on it.

    Anyway, I've always loved the song, and the double-meaning of the title lyric, their lips are sealed because they aren't talking about their relationship, and also because they're sealed together in a kiss, always struck me as a very clever bit of wordplay.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnPop bliss - my fave Go-Go song.
  • Tanya from La Verne, CaGreat song, especially Jane's solo.
  • Hugh from Kansas City, MoI always thought this song was about their abstinence from sex....
  • Jonothan from Adelaide, AustraliaFun song. It's impossible to sing this song without looking happy - Hilary and Haylie Duff almost succeed!
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