The Go Go’s – We Got The Beat

This is the first song I heard by them and I liked it right away.

The Go-Go’s formed in the spring of 1978 but didn’t really get serious until 1979 when drummer Gina Schock joined. Her playing gave the music a more forceful punch, and her insistence on frequent practicing helped move the band from novelty to contender in the L.A. scene.

Guitar player Charlotte Caffey wrote this song. It peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada. The song was on the album Beaty and the Beat which peaked at #1 in 1981 in the Billboard Album Charts.

The Go-Go’s are the first all-girl band to write the songs and play the instruments on a #1 US album.

Charlotte Caffey: “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.”

From 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. 

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.

 

We Got The Beat

See the people walking down the street
Fall in line just watching all their feet
They don’t know where they want to go
But they’re walking in time

They got the beat
They got the beat
They got the beat
Yeah, they got the beat

All the kids just getting out of school
They can’t wait to hang out and be cool
Hang around ’til quarter after twelve
That’s when they fall in line

They got the beat
They got the beat
Kids got the beat
Yeah kids got the beat

Go-go music really makes us dance
Do the pony puts us in a trance
Do the Watusi just give us a chance
That’s when we fall in line

‘Cause we got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
Yeah we got it!

We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
Everybody get on your feet we got the beat
We know you can dance to the beat we got the beat
Jumpin’ get down we got the beat
Round and round and round

We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat
We got the beat

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “The Go Go’s – We Got The Beat”

    1. I got it from Columbia House… it was so refreshing to hear. Some very good pop numbers.Its great the record company let them write the songs… that made a big difference. It could have been bland pop with pro songwriters.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think I have blogged about this, but this song was a song that our band ALWAYS played in marching band. It was a hit a about 3 years before I entered high school and the band was playing it at pep assemblies and at football games. It was so popular, we played it almost as much as our school song. It was the song everyone had memorized. Marching band was always strict – you never broke from being at attention when you were playing. This song we could dance, jump, and move all over the place when we played it. I have so many fun memories attached to this song. Years after I had graduated, we still played it when we did alumni band. I want to say that it remained a favorite right up until our band director retired. I still think of band class every time I hear it. Recently, a friend came over and I pulled out the trumpet. No surprise, I still remember how to play it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s almost made for a full band to do. I could see where it would be a great song to cover.

      Cool dude…glad you still remember how! I’m a few years older than you…not by much but I remember in high school the band playing the J Geils Band Freeze Frame and Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust…in my first year…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a perfect band song – great driving drums, easy bass line, and trumpet melody. We played it loud and fast! Such fun!

        Long before my radio career, my band director would have me record the songs onto cassettes with intros to the songs that were sent from music publishing companies on vinyl. My job was to tell him the song name and then play the song. He’d listen to the tapes of these demo versions to decide what he might want to use for the following year. Songs I liked, I always gave a longer intro (“This is one that all the gals and guys will be dancing too at homecoming” or “Here’s a swingin’ little number made famous by ….”) I loved doing it. I wish I had some of those albums today.

        I remember we had a short version of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust that was part of a medley of “stadium songs”. The Hey Song by Gary Glitter was another one. We did Neutron Dance from the Pointer Sisters, too. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea having those albums would be really cool dude. You got a good jump on your radio life.
        The Neutron Dance…it’s been a long time since I heard that one!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LOL – I used to sit in my bedroom and record “shows” for friends with songs I heard on the Dr. Demento Show! LOL I had this cheap Radio Shack microphone and would jump from cassette tape to cassette tape to make them. So primitive! LOL

        The Pointers had quite a few hits in the 80’s! We may have played Jump, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Fish Heads! My cousin listened to Dr Demento a lot and I got to hear some aftter that.
        My friend Ronald…we learned guitar together…we still play in the garage…did yesterday in fact… we would use two cassette recorders to “overdub” guitars. Crude but a lot of fun and we learned a lot.

        Like

  2. I ‘almost’ got to see this concert but, I got stuck babysitting a cousin. I was gifted with a t-shirt of the album cover. This could have been my very first concert but, it turned out to be Police’s Synchronicity.

    In my senior year, I went to a Civitan/Civinettes camp. Three of my bungalow mates and I got on stage and acted like the Go-Gos. We called ourselves the Stop-Stops and I was their fake drummer. LOL! Every time I hear this song, I’m on stage at camp, sitting behind drums, pretend-playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They would have been cool to see. From the stories I have read and from them…they did not take a back seat to the male bands in partying.
      That is funny…too bad you don’t have a video of that…or do you?

      I flash back also… Whenever I hear Tush by ZZ Top I’m with the guys playing it on stage. It was the first song I ever played on stage.

      Like

      1. I always wanted to see them and The Bangles. I’ve seen Joan Jett. She showed up at a ROT Rally in Austin. I never liked the Dixie Chicks. Their music never appealed to me and I couldn’t stand Natalie’s big mouth. I always preferred SheDaisy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Bangles and Go Gos…that would be a great tour.
        I saw Joan open for the Who a few years ago…she was great.
        I do like Wide Open Spaces…if that is the name…by them.

        Liked by 1 person

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