Single Review: Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat”

We Got The Beat
Album: Beauty and the Beat
Year: 1981

Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the Go-Go’s, thinks people move to a natural rhythm without even realizing it in the sock hop rock of “We Got the Beat.”

Eager, bouncy drums open the single followed by nonchalant keyboards. It sets a social, bustling tone. Carlisle observes people taking walks in her neighborhood. She notices after a while they all walk the same way, making their own dance. (“See the people walking down the street/Fall in line just watching all their feet/They don’t know where they wanna go/But they’re walking in time.”)

In the chorus, she cheers that they have rhythm (“They got the beat/They got the beat/They got the beat, yeah/They got the beat.”)

Carlisle watches as the teenagers leave the high school. They are obsessed with being trendy. A little after midnight, they will all scatter home to meet their curfew. However, they’re movements will bounce off each like a dance. (“See 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.”)

In the chorus, she replaces the two last “they’s” with “kids” (“They got the beat/They got the beat/Kids got the beat, yeah/Kids got the beat.”)

The guitars and drums go retro for a solo, invoking 60s surfer rock.

Carlisle and her friends listen to house. Go-go music, according to Washingtonian Online, is “live house music meant to keep an uninterrupted, down-home groove going on the dance floor.” It originated in Washington. A modern equivalent would be Junior Vasquez’s remixes. They also like to hang out and do early 60s novelty dances like the pony and the watusi. The pony began Chubby Checker. In “Pony Time,” he told to get a partner and form a line. Then, you turn the left and then the right. In the “Wah Wah Watusi” by the Orlons, people dance close together. It’s the “dance made for romance.” (“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.”)

Carlisle says she and her friends have their own individual rhythm. (“‘Cause we got the beat
We got the beat/We got the beat, yeah/We got it.”)

The guitars are silent as the red-blooded drums and animated hand claps accompany Carlisle. She says they have the moves. She then tells everyone to get off their couches and groove with them. (“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.”)

The playful “We Got the Beat” pays homage to the numerous novelty songs during the 60s. However, they put their own spin it by not creating a specific dance. They reason that everyone already has moves they are comfortable with. They stress creativity and not moving the way song tells the person to.

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