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The Go-Go's were all ready for prime time until the proverbial plug was pulled...

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
10 May 2009

All-female band the Go-Go's hit the pop music scene in 1981 after first slugging it out in the punk clubs of L.A.'s late-'70s underground. After signing with I.R.S., the girls were cleaned up, sanitized and commercialized, but still nobody within their music company thought the band stood a chance. One look at their first music video, for "Our Lips Are Sealed", shows how short-sighted the men controlling the music biz of the 1980s really were. Lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle showed thrift-store style and pizazz right from the start, while lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey, guitarist and chief songwriter Jane Wiedlin, bassist Kathy Valentine, and nimble, tomboyish drummer Gina Schock each appeared to relish being in the spotlight. These pop-rock chicks weren't shy, and their earliest appearance in "Lips" (riding in a convertible and dancing in public fountain waters) will be instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up during MTV's infant stages. "We Got the Beat" was filmed live and is technically negligible, while "Vacation" from their second album showed off their musical prowess as well as a comedic side (feigning water-skiing in flouncy costumes). By this video, MTV was already starting to give the band the short shrift, and I don't ever remember the channel showing "Get Up and Go" (which mixes live action and appealing Claymation). "Head Over Heels", from the third album "Talk Show", is slicker even yet, proving the girls were adept at making New Wave mainstream. They have been groomed to a fare-thee-well, though their individual personalities still come through and they appear to get along well (though trouble was brewing behind the scenes). "Turn To You" has an interesting story concept--their only video to actually HAVE a story concept--with the girls dressed as male musicians on the stage and as country club lasses on the dance floor (with the exception of drummer Schock, who is dressed the opposite). Rob Lowe plays a ladies' man kissing up to Belinda, looking smashing in a teased platinum bouffant. The clip is nearly undone, however, by poor direction and muddy photography, and the next video, "Yes or No", is worse yet (presented as a home movie, with the band members camping for the camera). The Go-Go's splintered from there; Wiedlin left first, with Carlisle and Caffey officially calling it quits in May 1985. Counting some successful reunions over the past several years, I would say the band definitely reached their own personal prime time. This document to their early years is nostalgic and fun for fans, but a resurrection of this particular style of video-making seems unlikely in the face of today's high-tech productions and ultimate pandering to preteens. It suited the Go-Go's nicely at the time, but kids today might take one look at these clips and wonder what on earth their parents ever saw in them. Hopefully, the music itself will endure.

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