We Got The Beat

Album: Beauty And The Beat (1980)
Charted: 2
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Songfacts®:

  • The Go-Go's wrote their own songs, and along with the Bangles and The Dixie Chicks, are one of the most successful all-girl bands to do so. "We Got The Beat" was written by guitarist Charlotte Caffey, who drew inspiration from some Motown beats, specifically one that mentioned the name of her group. Caffey told Songfacts: "I thought it would be very clever to do 'Going To A Go-Go.' I thought, Well, let's try working this out as a cover song. Which is really funny when I think about it. I was listening to it a lot one day, and later that night, the song came to me within five minutes. I don't even know if it has anything to do with listening to that song, but this whole idea came to me. It was one of those things that just went right through me and came out my hand; I wrote it down, recorded it a little bit, and then brought it into rehearsal a few days later."
  • In the '70s, American female rockers like Suzi Quatro and The Runaways found the UK more receptive than their homeland, so The Go-Go's followed this model, releasing an early version of "We Got The Beat" in the UK as their first single. It was issued on Stiff Records, which was home to The Specials and Madness, both groups The Go-Go's toured with in England to promote it. It flopped, but the group fared far better in America, where they were signed to IRS Records by Miles Copeland, who managed The Police. In the US, "Our Lips Are Sealed" was released as their first single in the summer of 1981, followed by a new version of "We Got The Beat" in January 1982. This release was The Go-Go's biggest hit, spending three weeks at #2 in April behind Joan Jett's "I Love Rock And Roll."

    Jett was able to box them out of the top spot on the Hot 100, but Beauty And The Beat spent six weeks at #1, fending off Jett's album. This made The Go-Go's the first all-girl band to top the US albums chart, a mark that stood until 1999, when Dixie Chicks landed with Fly.
  • This plays in the opening scene of the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, where we meet the main characters in their natural habitat: the Ridgemont Mall. The song doesn't appear on the soundtrack but got a lot of attention from the film. Other movies to use the song include:

    Brimstone & Treacle (1982)
    Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
    Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
    My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)
    Poms (2019)
  • When The Go-Go's formed in 1978, they had little experience but figured they could learn on the fly in the LA punk scene, where enthusiasm could make up for shortfalls in musicianship. The only seasoned member was guitarist Charlotte Caffey, who was a few years older and knew how to play when lead singer Belinda Carlisle asked her to join this new all-girl band. Charlotte took the offer, leaving her band The Eyes and becoming a key songwriter in the group along with Jane Wiedlin, the group's other guitarist, who quickly developed into an excellent musician as well. In 1979, they replaced original drummer Elissa Bello with the more experienced Gina Schock; in early 1981 they swapped out bass player Margot Olavarria for Kathy Valentine, who had been in a group called The Textones and also wrote songs.

    The narrative of the band having no idea how to play when they started stuck with them, but by the time they released their first album, Wiedlin and Carlisle were the only members without much previous experience. Those two became the most visible members and each launched successful solo careers after the band folded in 1985. Carlisle got a lot of help from Charlotte Caffey, who worked on much of her solo material.
  • The Go-Go's played this and "Our Lips Are Sealed" when they were musical guests on Saturday Night Live, November 14, 1981. The group would often have a few drinks before their shows, but for SNL they didn't take the stage until about midnight, so all that early drinking caught up with them, resulting in a rather sluggish performance.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Go-Go's bass player Kathy Valentine, she said: "I think of 'We Got The Beat' as an anthem. It's very trance-like, so you combine that trance factor with the beat and the anthem nature and it's very unique."
  • The song ties into the album title, Beauty And The Beat, which was Belinda Carlisle's idea. The group's first album, it was recorded in New York City with producer Richard Gottehrer, the man who gave us "I Want Candy." The Go-Go's were based in Los Angeles, so during this time they stayed together in suites at the Wellington Hotel in New York City, causing lots of mischief and having way too much fun.

    The group brainstormed ideas for the cover and decided to go with a spa theme, showing the girls wrapped in towels with cream on their faces. Their art director, George DuBois, took the photos in the hotel, with shots of each member in the bathtub for use on the back cover. According to Kathy Valentine, their manager, Ginger Canzoneri, got the towels from Macy's and returned them after the shoot. They used Pond's cold cream on their faces.
  • This was performed by the cast of the TV series Glee in the 2011 episode "The Purple Piano Project." Released as a single, this version went to #83 in the US.
  • This opens the musical Head Over Heels, based on the music of The Go-Go's, which played on Broadway in 2018. When an oracle, played by Peppermint of RuPaul's Drag Race, foresees a beatless future for the Elizabethan-era townsfolk of Arcadia, they respond with the tune.

Comments: 4

  • Michael from UsaRespect to The Go Go's as being the first all girl band to write their own songs, play their instruments to hit number 1 on the Billboard album charts they made history. I would not compare The Bangles with The Go Go's at all because the big hit singles by The Bangles they didn't even write those songs. Manic Monday was written by Prince and Walk Like an Egyptian wasn't written by The Bangles either. The Dixie Chicks didn't write all their own songs either so neither band should be mentioned. Now The Runaways completely different story those girls were teenagers, played their instruments very well and wrote the majority of their own songs but sadly didn't get the credit they deserved and it didn't help they had a corrupt pervert pig for a manager Kim Fowley.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this in 1982 {April 4th} "We Got The Beat" by the Go-Gos peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Top 100* chart, the three weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "I Love Rock 'N Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts...
    Just under two weeks later on April 17th "We Got The Beat" peaked at #3 {for 1 week} in Canada...
    Between 1981 and 1984 the Los Angeles quintet had seven records on the Top 100 chart, two made the Top 10 with the above "We Got The Beat" being their biggest hit...
    Besides "We Got The Beat", their other Top 10 record was "Vacation", it peak at #8 {for 3 weeks} later in 1982 on August 15th...
    They just missed having a third #10 record when their "Head Over Heels" reached #11 for two weeks in May of 1984...
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of the Billboard's Top 10 for April 4th, 1982:
    At #3, "Charoits of Fire" by Vangelis
    #4. "Freeze-Frame" by The J. Geils Band
    #5. "Make A Move On Me" Olivia Newton-John
    #6. "Don't Talk To Strangers" by Rick Springfield
    #7. "Open Arms" by Journey
    #8. "That Girl" by Stevie Wonder
    #9. "Key Largo" by Bertie Higgins
    #10. "Do You Believe In Love" by Huey Lewis and the News...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 23rd 1982, the Go-Go's performed "We Got The Beat" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    And on that very same day it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on April 4th, 1982 it peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) and spent 19 weeks on the Top 100 (and 9 of those 19 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    It reached #3 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart...
    The three weeks it was at #2, the #1 record during that time was "I Love Rock ‘N Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaGreat energy! Interesting that this and Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" Were #1 and #2 at the same time in 1980. You go, girls!
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