Beauty and the Beat

Music review by
Blair Jackson, Common Sense Media
Beauty and the Beat Music Poster Image
Catchy power pop from all-female new wave pioneers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

On the surface, "Our Lips Are Sealed" is just a pop ditty, but its deeper message is about hurtful gossip. There's a feeling in a couple of songs, too, that if friends stick together, they can overcome problems. And, of course, these girls want to have fun, and do!

Positive Role Models & Representations

In their time -- the 1980s -- the Go-Go's were viewed as positive role models for girls and young women because they succeeded in an industry where all-women bands have not traditionally done well. All five musicians were first-rate (drummer Gina Shock was up there with Clement Burke of Blondie and Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello & the Attractions as one of the best to come out of the new wave), and their writing was also very strong. Though their songs sometimes speak of insecurity and broken hearts, the overall vibe of the group is confident, independent, and fun-loving. In the fine tune "This Town," they sing: "Bet you'd live here if you could / And be one us." A whole generation of girls took that to heart.  

Violence

In "You Can't Walk in Your Sleep" there is a line about smashing a window, but it is part of a description of a dream.

Sex

The song "Skidmarks on Your Heart" fits in the long tradition of cars as a metaphor for sex and romance: "Rev her engine for your pleasure / Caress and fondle her steering wheel." It's mild stuff, and the twist is that the singer feels as though she's competing with the guy's car for his affection. "Lust to Love" is about wanting a relationship to move from the physical to the emotional.

 

Language

"We're all dreamers, we're all whores" they sing on "This Town," though it is clearly not referring to prostitution; rather, doing whatever is necessary to make money and be successful.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The song "Tonite" mentions getting "dressed up and messed up," but does not get more specific than that. In "You Can't Walk in Your Sleep," there is the line "Downed that pill hours ago," a reference to a sleeping pill to help with insomnia.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beauty and the Beat is the 1981 debut album by the Go-Go's, the first all-female band to break through commercially during the rise of the "new wave" in the late '70s and early '80s. Like many bands in that movement, the Go-Go's drew from the pop and rock of the late '50s and early '60s, from girl groups to surf groups to Bo Diddley, but mixed those influences with their original punk leanings, which diminished over time as they became more popular. Much of the Go-Go's' music has a light power-pop quality, as exemplified by their two biggest hits, "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat" -- both on Beauty and the Beat. The Go-Go's played all the instruments on the album and wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs. The album went to No. 1 in the United States and sold more than 2 million copies. There are some very mild sexual references and one mention of a pill, but the content is downright innocent when compared to current pop music.

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What's the story?

The Go-Go's grew from being a fun but mediocre punk band on the Los Angeles music scene in the late '70s to one of the top pop bands of the early '80s, completely embraced by the rock mainstream. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was produced by the same person who produced Blondie's groundbreaking punk-pop debut record in 1976, Richard Gottherer.

Is it any good?

The Go-Go's' two hits, "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat," are irresistible classics, but the rest of the album is strong, too, and a variety of moods, from the cryptic and slightly odd "Automatic" to the anthemic "Can't Stop the World." Still, this is a rock album through and through.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why there have been so few female rock bands. Why do you think that is? 

  • Would the Go-Go's have become popular if they had remained a punk band?

  •  

  • Why do you think the Go-Go's posed for their album cover in towels, their faces covered in white skin cream? 

  • Do you think it would be fun to start a band with your friends? Who would play what instrument? 

Music details

  • Artist: The Go-Go's
  • Release date: July 8, 1981
  • Type: Album
  • Label: IRS
  • Genre: Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No

For kids who love teen music

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