Forget for a second the brightly hued '80s icons the Go-Go's would become. They didn't set out to conquer the world, y'know. They were just a humble surf-pop band with their sights set on fun until their very first album, Beauty and the Beat, swept the nation in a total fluke. That their sound became a blueprint for much of the decade's MTV bubblegum is a tribute to just how much mileage could be gotten out of five cute girls playing and singing catchy songs they wrote themselves.
Despite the subsequent hugeness of the Go-Go's, today they're known best for three songs that could easily be confused with one another: "We Got the Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Vacation." Caffeinated and carefree, they were party anthems that just happened to be pretty smart, too. That's where most people's image of the band stops.
But look closer at their albums, and you'll see darker, more diverse moments that provide more lasting pleasures. Beauty and the Beat spikes its many elastic pop-punk triumphs with the harrowing "Lust to Love" and the slow-motion ska tinges of "Automatic" (download this right now), while the follow-up, Vacation, houses the bitter new wave of "He's So Strange" and the dirge-like "It's Everything But Party Time."
You may not hear those subtler tunes rolled out as the Go-Go's continue on their endless reunion tour. That's okay. They live forever on the records. And the girls are still doing some interesting stuff. Belinda Carlisle released a Brian Eno-assisted album sung entirely in French last year, and her band mates have dabbled in other outfits, solo careers, even acting.
They may never be as famous as they were as the Go-Go's, but what's so bad about that?
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The Go-Go's at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.hob.com. Mon.-Tues., 7 p.m. $62.50-$67.50. All ages.