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Top 6 Go-Go's Songs of the '80s

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Although the Go-Go's enjoyed a very brief career in the pop music spotlight, the band's three studio albums contained a high percentage of quality '80s songs ranging from punkish rock to vibrant new wave to pure pop. Here's a look at this important group's finest tracks, in terms of both familiar hits and album tracks that should have been hits.

1. "Our Lips Are Sealed"

The Go-Gos, (L-R) Belinda Carlisle (lead vocals), Gina Schock (drums), Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar), Kathy Valentine (bass), and Jane Wiedlin (rhythm guitar).
George Rose/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though there's little evidence of the Go-Go's punk rock past in the strains of this pop confection, the Top 20 hit certainly retains an energetic intensity that matches its songwriting quality. Unfortunately, Jane Wiedlin, who cowrote the tune with Terry Hall of the Specials, gets only the track's imaginative bridge in which to contribute lead vocals, but she does make the most of her moment. As for the rest, Belinda Carlisle's vocal performance is a perfect match for the song's playfulness and exuberance, and the band collectively gells for one of the finest singles of the '80s.

2. "How Much More"

For my money, the peak Go-Go's sound never got any better than this, a spirited, guitar-driven new wave classic that bridges the band's raw early work with its latter-day polished pop. The guitar work of Charlotte Caffey and Wiedlin really shines here, as both deliver appropriately punchy riffs that mesh well with the vibrant rhythm section of Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock. But it's ultimately the entire ensemble's synergy that turns this song into the band's finest hit single that never was. At least there's consolation in the fact that high-quality songs like this help make the group's debut album, Beauty and the Beat, one of the decade's best.

3. "We Got the Beat"

As bubblegum as it may seem upon initial inspection, this, perhaps the most defining Go-Go's anthem, actually maintains a considerable link to the group's punk roots. After all, Caffey's riffing and lead work hearken back strongly to surf music, a major influence on many strains of punk rock. This actually makes quite a bit of sense considering that it was this song that broke the Go-Go's on a regional level and then sent the band on tour in England for a good portion of 1980. Ultimately, it became the group's biggest hit, reaching an impressive No. 2 on the pop charts and No. 7 in the mainstream rock category in 1982.

4. "Lust to Love"

On this classic album track from Beauty and the Beat, Caffey and Wiedlin offer up a fierce, tough rock song that is perhaps the group's best example of its perfect fusion between rock and classic pop. The track's two distinct sections are both highly effective, with the unique, arpeggiated riffing of the verse building slowly but firmly into the harder-edged chorus. In actuality, I think Carlisle tends to be a better singer on rock songs than the kind of adult contemporary fare she's favored as a solo artist, which makes it a bit of a shame that the Go-Go's didn't release more music of this rocking variety.

5. "Vacation"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Interscope

Implementing keyboards to a significant degree for the first time, the Go-Go's here deliver a much more straightforward pop song than any track on their first album. But that doesn't mean it represents a dip in quality, as in fact the melodies here are probably more strident and confident than the band had managed previously. Still, any fans upset with the band's ever deeper move into the mainstream probably considered a preponderance of ear-candy qualities to be even more justification for their ire over the slicker production and almost teeny-bopper nature of the song's music video.

6. "Head Over Heels"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Interscope
Speaking of keyboards, electric piano here becomes almost the dominant instrument, and that's not an unwelcome development in the least, considering the overall top-notch quality of this effort from the final Go-Go's album, Talk Show. This may be pop through and through with nary a hint of punk or even new wave (which had pretty much faded by 1984 anyway), but the songwriting quality remains exceedingly high, especially considering much of the pop music competing against the Go-Go's at the time. The band may have been experiencing cracks in the foundation at this point, but you can't tell from this tune.
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