a kinetic effervescence, with a pulse that shimmered and spangled
August 23, 2020 1:13 PM   Subscribe

The Go-Go's became the first all-female band — who played their own instruments and wrote their own songs — to have a No. 1 album in America. Why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
- LA Weekly: you're mostly a bunch of New Yorkers, and New Yorkers have always treated L.A. punk like the bastard stepchild of the New York and London scenes.
- Belinda Carlisle: It’s sexist or it’s political.
- Rolling Stone: Is it because they complained about the time they were on the cover?
Their new documentary makes the case that they very much deserve to be there.

Maybe they just didn't get the email?
posted by jessamyn (66 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
zomg Go-Go’s forever

fuck the RRHOF

and justice for LL Cool J while we’re at it
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 1:32 PM on August 23 [12 favorites]


Oral History: How The Go-Go's Perfected Pop-Punk

On our very first tour, we went and played some clubs in the South. As we were walking up to the venue, we saw the marquee, and it said "GO-GO GIRLS," and we were like, "What the f*** is that?! Oh my God, they thought we were gonna strip or something!" Man, were they so disappointed. We walk up there, and here's these bedraggled girls who are like, road-tired and more than likely hungover. We get up onstage and just rip through one of our sets. It's kind of funny, because people didn't know what to expect, and we showed them. We're the best when we're together like that. When we splinter within the group for whatever reason, it's really painful, but when we're us against the world, it's the best.
(Charlotte Caffey)
posted by chavenet at 1:40 PM on August 23 [19 favorites]


I saw them open for The Police, from pretty close up. They looked terrified; I think it was one of their first arena shows.
posted by thelonius at 1:54 PM on August 23 [9 favorites]


Kind of a weird way to frame what seems like a really good documentary on the band. It sounds like it's a pretty teeny axe any of them are willing to grind, and I have doubts the status as inductees has any real significant meaning. And the movie doesn't seem to beat that drum in a meaningful way.

Related, Kathy Valentine on WTF podcast last March.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:07 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


The RRHOF isn't really strong on punk bands in general, but LA Weekly might have a point.

Who's not in the HOF? Aside from The Go-Go's, X, Black Flag, The Germs, The Minutemen, and Bad Religion.

Who is? The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
posted by box at 2:27 PM on August 23 [17 favorites]


Kind of a weird way to frame what seems like a really good documentary on the band.

I saw the documentary and really enjoyed it, but I also think it's pretty clear that the director of that movie very much thought that the band deserved to be in the RRHF and there's a pretty big bit to that effect in the movie, if not by the band members. And when I was done watching it, that was what I wanted to learn about. And so here is the post.

I saw Kathy Valentine talking on the Seventh Inning Stretch (the FB Live show where the Red Sox Organist takes requests and has special guests) and it was definitely something she brought up during her pretty short guest spot.
posted by jessamyn at 2:40 PM on August 23 [7 favorites]


When he was around 22 or so, my dad managed one of the buildings the Go-Gos used to practice in before they got big. One night they were being a little too loud, so my dad had to go over and check things out. He was the quintessential Pointdexter: nice white shirt, plain tie, pocket protector, clipboard, etc. He had also just cut his ultra long waist length hippie hair since his boss refused to stop calling him the unibomber.

As he approached the unit where the girls were practicing, he saw that the door was open and that a few people were milling about in an effort to get some airflow going. Just as my dad was about to go inside and politely ask everyone to clear out, someone brushed up against him and he had to scoot back into the wall behind him to let them pass.

It was Belinda Carlisle. And boy, was she cute.

She immediately turned around. "Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't see you, I --" Then she stopped, apparently transfixed, and reached out to touch my dad's hair.

"Oh. My. God. Your hair... Is PERFECT! Don't move." She toyed with his bangs for a moment, tucked one behind his ear, tugged on her own locks in mild distress, and disappeared into the band room without another word.

This is one of his favorite memories.

It majorly cancels out the time he discovered that another tenant in a different building had been crushed to death in his storage unit by a giant bookcase and that that's why blood was seeping into the unit below. :)
posted by Kitchen Witch at 2:57 PM on August 23 [65 favorites]


Why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Because it was created simply to give Cleveland a tourist destination?
BTW I love the Go-Gos
posted by Rash at 2:57 PM on August 23 [8 favorites]


If I ever meet Belinda Carlisle, I intend to ask her who it is that says that in Heaven, love comes first; i.e. are we talking about theologians or greeting-card copywriters or someone else?
posted by acb at 3:11 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


My dad would also like to claim credit for the beauty marks that Belinda would later wear on stage because he has freckles and in addition to Belinda admiring his hair she also tapped a few of those freckles and said, "Aha! I like these too!"

More components of this memory may be forthcoming as apparently I am doing a disservice to it in my retellings
posted by Kitchen Witch at 3:19 PM on August 23 [12 favorites]


Lost my virginity to Our Lips Are Sealed. Glad it wasn't We Got the Beat.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 3:37 PM on August 23 [7 favorites]


He had also just cut his ultra long waist length hippie hair since his boss refused to stop calling him the unibomber.

Your dad sounds great and imma let you finish, but his boss had one of the best lines of all time. Of all time.
posted by chavenet at 3:40 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Belinda Carlisle's autobiography is well worth the read, BTW.
posted by signal at 4:04 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Lost my virginity to Our Lips Are Sealed.

I appreciate the contradiction between the first three words and the last four.

Who's not in the HOF? Aside from The Go-Go's, X, Black Flag, The Germs, The Minutemen, and Bad Religion.

I've never found the RRHOF to be at all relevant and this gets at why. I do hope the Go-Gos get the recognition they deserve.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:17 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]



How many people really care about the Hall of Fame at this point?

I wasn't expecting much, but I was pretty disappointed. I learned a lot more about Rock and Roll at the Museum of African American History. The most worthwhile thing at the RRHOF is the exhibit on the roots of Rock and Roll and the occasional inclusion of someone interesting in the Hall of Fame, like Sister Rosetta Tharp or Les Paul.

Got some good things at the gift store, though.
posted by acrasis at 4:20 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the reminder I wanted to watch this documentary, that was an excellent use of a Sunday afternoon too hot to go outside.

This is one of those extremely visceral bands for me. I was 9 in 1981 and Beauty and the Beat was one of the first albums I bought. There's almost no point in my growing-up years and 20s that can't be identified with a Go-Go's or Carlisle or Wiedlin song.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:36 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Saw the Go-Gos back in the day up at Purdue. A Flock of Seagulls opened for them. Great night.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:48 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


The problem with any Hall of Fame is that after (usually) very worthy initial class, it gets bogged down in 'but are they truly great like that initial class was?'
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:57 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


The Rock Hall is an irrelevant institution. That said, the first Go-Go's album is just pure gold from start to finish. One of my all-time favorite new-wave records.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:18 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


In the 1980 my brother got a boom box and a Go-Go's tape was one of like three tapes he owned. I heard it a lot. For years since then I dismissed the Go-Gos as 80s bubblegum music but a couple years ago I started reading about them and listening to them and, man, what a great band they are.

I don't have Showtime so I'll have to wait for the doc to be available elsewhere but I'm looking forward to watching it.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I was a huge Go-Go's fan back in the day and still love their music. It's criminal they are not in the RRHOF. Can't wait to see the documentary, all the reviews I've read have been very positive.
posted by pjsky at 6:41 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


The RRHOF seems at this point to exist (any tourism benefit to Cleveland aside) to spawn arguments about who isn't in it and why. It may be a great place, but in my mind it's a somewhat largish Hard Rock Cafe, with the requisite guitars and gold lame jackets or whatever, and I'm not sure that I'd want to brave Cleveland traffic to visit it if I happened to be in or near that corner of Ohio.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:12 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


There are many acts in the RRHOF who may be fine, entertaining musicians but not what I would consider RnR by any stretch of the imagination.

Given that, yes, it's absurd that the Go-Gos aren't.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:18 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Growing up, I don’t think anything music-related gave me as much joy as getting the clapping right on Head Over Heels.
posted by Mchelly at 7:22 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


"Has the Whole World Lost Its Head" is on heavy rotation these days.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:35 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Forget everyone else and induct Kitchen Witch’s Dad to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:10 PM on August 23 [13 favorites]


Lost my virginity to Our Lips Are Sealed.

If I were in this situation, I wouldn’t mention the song, but merely that I lost my virginity to the Go-Gos. Technically still correct, and it will get you some wondering glances.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:22 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


I saw them open for The Police at Madison Square Garden and loved them ever since.
posted by cazoo at 8:49 PM on August 23


....in addition to Belinda admiring his hair she also tapped a few of those freckles and said, "Aha! I like these too!"

Skipping over the backstory of how I ended up in a small entourage of family and friends for a three-day run of Go-Go's shows, my first encounter with Jane Wiedlin was when she bounce-sprinted across the room, grabbed my cheeks and squealed, "Whoa, just LOOK at those dimples!" I turned ten shades of red, then we both broke into a fit of contagious laughter--the perfect icebreaker to help me feel welcome. Great memories.
posted by prinado at 9:52 PM on August 23 [10 favorites]


Saw that same tour in Minneapolis. It was a good show.
posted by Windopaene at 9:52 PM on August 23


Even before I knew about to documentary, this summer (from around my birthday in April on) has been dominated by the Go Go's. I don't know why. Hadn't really thought about them in forever and then I just got reminded how damn awesome they were in those first albums and yeah, how completely SoCal they sound
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:57 PM on August 23


Saw them in October 1982, outdoors at The Muny in St. Louis. Pretty good show! I always liked Charlotte best, but they were all interesting in their own ways.

As for the Hall of Fame, I suppose their catalog is smaller than plenty of other prominent bands, but they're not one-hit wonders, either. And being the first all-female band to have a #1 album ought to count for something, so sure, put 'em in there.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:56 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]




I'd never really listened to the Go-Go's. Now I'm a fan. Thanks metafilter.

Jane Wiedlin was the singing telegram in Clue and Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:01 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


I like the Go-Go’s and also those gals apparently had some significant boundary issues around touching strangers that I hope have been resolved. In 2020 that shit (tapping freckles and squeezing cheeks) reads creepy AF however warmly received at the time by those two specific strangers. Signed, Don’t Touch Me There.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:11 AM on August 24


Why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Not a single number one single.
posted by fairmettle at 3:14 AM on August 24


Having a number one single has nothing to do with it.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:58 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


I mean if Toto doesn't deserve to be in the hall of fame (and they should be based purely on their session work alone let alone their hits) then who does?
posted by PenDevil at 5:00 AM on August 24


Fine, fine, we'll make it zero-sum. A partial list of names in the Hall who should be given the boot so the Go-Gos can be properly recognized:

The Zombies
Pearl Jam
Guns N Roses
George Harrison as a solo act
The Moody fucking Blues
posted by Mayor West at 5:13 AM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Have any MeFites been to the R&RHoF? Is it worth checking out? My cynical self imagines it's a waste of time, but I don't know a single person who has been.

I did check out the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis when we did a road trip to watch the solar eclipse a few years back, which was surprisingly well put together and interesting. Saw a very early costume worn by a super young Tina Turner and wow was she petite!
posted by SoberHighland at 6:06 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


A partial list of names in the Hall who should be given the boot so the Go-Gos can be properly recognized:

The Zombies
Pearl Jam
Guns N Roses
George Harrison as a solo act
The Moody fucking Blues


OK, let's talk about this list, and the difference between wanting someone out of the RRHOF because they really weren't that influential, because they were huge in their day but that faded, and because you personally just don't like them. In terms of making space for the Go-Gos, I'll grant The Zombies right away; they had a few hits and faded quickly. Ditto for Harrison's post-Beatles work; All Things Must Pass was possibly the best ex-Beatle album, but there was a steep drop-off after that. (Cloud Nine was basically Jeff Lynne's repayment for, well, about his entire career.) The Moody Blues--or the Moody Fucking Blues, if you will--had Days of Future Passed, which was either the proggiest pop album ever, or the poppiest prog album, but got a bit full of themselves after that.

But Pearl Jam was genuinely influential, probably second in their era only to Nirvana, and I'm guessing that you want G'n'R gone mostly because of Axl Rose, and while he was and is an asshole supreme, if you're going to keep someone out of the HoF for that, consider the case of Mike Fucking Love, who used the occasion of the Beach Boys' induction to shit all over many of his musical superiors who were also in attendance. I think that you could swap out the Zombies for the Go-Gos and it would be fine.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:52 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Who doesn't love those records? But when it comes to women in the Hall of Fame ... and boy this makes me feel old: Liz Phair and Sleater Kinney both become eligible in the last year or two. Talk about essential.
posted by MattD at 7:55 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


As a Clevelander, I can't really recommend the RnR HOF, it's ridiculous, ugly, and incredibly arbitrary. However, I will tell you that if you stand outside it near the RTA entrance on the highway overpass, sooner or later you'll be able to get someone to give you their wristband and you can just walk in for free.

Also it always blows my mind that Belinda Carlisle played drums in the Germs. And their album was produced by Joan Jett.

also the minutemen are one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time and deserve their own museum or at least shrine
posted by SystematicAbuse at 8:31 AM on August 24 [10 favorites]


Mayor West: "Fine, fine, we'll make it zero-sum. A partial list of names in the Hall who should be given the boot so the Go-Gos can be properly recognized:"

Personally, I'd swap out male musicians for female ones until the distribution approximated the general population's. Ditto for race / ability / etc.
I'd do that pretty much everywhere, to be honest.
posted by signal at 9:09 AM on August 24


Kinda amazed that 'All 221 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked from Best to Worst' hasn't been posted here before (or I couldn't find it, at least).
posted by box at 9:27 AM on August 24 [5 favorites]


Yeah for all the shitty bands that ARE in the HoF, I can't believe the Go-Go's aren't. (Among so many others that aren't; google the rock and roll hall of fame snubs—people and bands that aren't in there but by all means should be.) Even though the HoF is actually a bunch of rich execs, if they are to purport to be the "canon" of western rock, the Go-Go's belong there, no doubt.

That said, I have MUCH respect for those who refused to be inducted, too. The Go-go's are in good company NOT being in the Hall of Fame. That said, still I am surprised but not shocked (no pun intended Gina).
posted by not_on_display at 10:02 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I don't have Showtime so I'll have to wait for the doc to be available elsewhere

You can get a 30-day free trial at this page; it's been ages since I had Showtime but if ever there was a reason to dig up an old email address and get a streaming service to give me a free trial, this is it. Worked like a charm.
posted by mediareport at 10:12 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I just read two articles from this year about RRHOF snubs, one from the fairly music-nerd Consequence of Sound and the other from Cleveland.com. The names that appear on both lists make up a very non-scientific list I'll call the super-snubbed: Kate Bush, Iron Maiden, New Order, The Pixies, The Smiths, and Sonic Youth.

Things the RRHOF doesn't do well (an incomplete list): dance music, alternative/indie music, heavy music, punk, women. Thing it does do well: elevate dudes from famous bands later solo careers even when they were pretty mediocre. Billy Corgan as a solo artist will probably get in before Bikini Kill.
posted by box at 10:31 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


box, I favorited your comment because it is indeed surprising that no one has posted it before, but even for a listicle by a rock critic (the most overrated form of journalism), it's pretty horrible. Bill "Not the Rolling Stones bassist" Wyman did a takedown of Keith Richards' autobiography (previously on the blue) that was very good, but with this listicle he lost all the admiration I had for him from his previous effort, and then some. Not just for ranking Springsteen all the way down at #51, well below a number of people who would kill to have Springsteen's career (that includes the solo John Lennon, IMO), but puts Queen second from the bottom. Their crimes? Played Sun City, and didn't mention Freddie Mercury's sexuality or cause of death during his tribute concert (as if the entire world didn't know by then). Those aren't things to admire, of course, but consider that his #1 is Chuck Berry, guilty of actual crimes against actual people.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:43 AM on August 24


He had also just cut his ultra long waist length hippie hair since his boss refused to stop calling him the unibomber.

I love this anecdote but maybe you want to check this particular detail again with your dad? Kaczynski did start sending bombs in the late '70s, but nobody was talking about "the Unabomber" in that era. Manson family, possibly. The story is so perfect otherwise that the anachronism is distressing me.

PS - many props to your dad. That is an unsung job right there...
posted by queensissy at 11:32 AM on August 24 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's not great. I think a lot of those Vulture mega-listicles have the same problem--it's hard to talk about 221 things (or 5,279, ffs) and maintain the same kind of evaluating criteria the whole time. It's even harder if you're also trying to shit on sacred cows, dish up hot takes, and do all the other things that make people like listicles. On the other hand, he dislikes Bon Jovi almost as much as I do, so, y'know, there's that.
posted by box at 11:35 AM on August 24


Jane Wiedlin was the singing telegram in Clue yt and Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted.


You may also have seen her contacting Starfleet Command with a distress call.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:11 PM on August 24 [7 favorites]


I'm also reminded of her solo single 'Rush Hour,' and its video whose concept seems to be Jane Weidlin telling her record company 'okay, I'll make the video you want me to make, but, also, I get to swim with dolphins.'
posted by box at 12:18 PM on August 24


I have a very sloppy Zumpano live track from the late 1990s with the between song banter offering a free ticket to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and suggesting that you could go there to see The Fatboys sweater on display.

Maybe things have really changed in the past 25 years, but it doesn't sound like a great museum and that list of inductees from Vulture article (which is terrible) seems so-so and the pomposity of the induction committee's comments is off the charts. I'm saying we deserve a better rock n roll hall of fame than the one we have and that The Go-Gos should be in it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:41 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


So just looked at my new Showtime free trial account and it says the Go-Gos doc is leaving on August 28, so you have 4 days to catch it for free.
posted by mediareport at 1:46 PM on August 24


One of the strongest debut albums of any rock band ever.
posted by Beholder at 3:44 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


One of the strongest debut albums of any rock band ever.

While I would normally dismiss this as an obvious case of Beauty (and the Beat) is in the eye of the Beholder, I agree with you.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:10 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals): I've actually gotten in arguments with trolls online about it, like, 20-year-old white guys: 'Go-Go's aren't punk!' Like, oh my GOD, shut up! (laughs). I'm real happy to clear that up, because being a part of the Hollywood punk scene is one of the most important things to ever happen to me. I'm not happy when people dismiss it.

Well, in fairness, if someone played you "Our Lips Are Sealed" or "We Got The Beat", for the first time, would you really say "Oh, that's a punk band"?
posted by thelonius at 5:00 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Ok I watched it. It was very good.
posted by bondcliff at 6:02 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


if someone played you "Our Lips Are Sealed" or "We Got The Beat", for the first time, would you really say "Oh, that's a punk band"?

Well, this or this might work better.
posted by mediareport at 6:18 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


Wyman's piece certainly has its flaws, but his take on the Eagles is a thing of beauty.
posted by Slothrup at 6:55 PM on August 24


...and yet, that's just a reminder that he rated the Eagles several dozen places above Queen. He's been in the business too long to not know that someone's personal grudge list--even his own--is worth publishing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:59 AM on August 25


rather, is not worth publishing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 AM on August 25


I saw them in Portland, Maine in 1984, from the nosebleeds. INXS was the opening act. Great memories.
posted by Techmudslinger_ at 7:10 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Kinda amazed that 'All 221 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked from Best to Worst' hasn't been posted here before (or I couldn't find it, at least).

I'm sorry, you can get back to the Go-Go's (who are great, but better recorded than live IMO) in a sec, but I couldn't not say what an incredibly piece of garbage written by someone with horrible taste in music. A computer algorithm could have made a better ranking. Just as one minor illustration, Hall and Oates (34 Hot 100 hits, 6 number ones, and 6 gold records) is ranked in the 200s, below Alice Cooper and ZZ Top. Fuck, Peter Gabriel is lower than Bob Seeger. You shouldn't write about music if you hate it.

Ok, yes, the Go-Gos, even their late career reboot with La-La Land was great.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:41 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


BTW if you are playing or were thinking about playing the video game Spiritfarer, one of the shortcut travel methods is one of the greatest Mondegreens of all time: Alex the Seal.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


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