I’ve been having a think about how many other all-female groups had some success in the 80s, because there weren’t that many of them. But here’s one that didn’t do too badly (in America at least). The Go-Go’s were a group that formed in 1978, and their frontwoman was Belinda Carlisle (and little did anyone realise what success was to come for her in the late-80s).
Now Belinda might not be the first person that you would think was a punk/new wave singer, but that’s what she was in the early-80s, and at this point she had short white hair. Also, Belinda was born in the summer of 1958, and I have noticed that a rather large amount of innovative female singers were born around that time, also including Toyah, Madonna, Kate Bush, Siobhan Fahey, Danielle Dax… I can only presume there was something in the water.
By the early-80s The Go-Go’s were making some TV appearances in America, and some of them are a great example of when the majority of a studio audience just sit there looking really bored, apart from one or two people who get really overexcited. Belinda also appeared on the cover of Record Mirror as early as July 1980, as The Go-Go’s were tipped for big things.
Their only hit single in the UK in the 80s was in May 1982 with “Our Lips Are Sealed”, which reached only no. 47 (although this did spend six weeks on the chart), and no. 20 in America. In April 1983, this was covered by Fun Boy Three to become a Top Ten hit. Their only album to be a hit in the UK was “Vacation” in August 1982, which barely made the Top 75.
And that was it, people felt there was a real missed chance here, with their other successful songs including “We Got The Beat” and “Head Over Heels” never being hits in the UK, while in America they had a chart-topping album and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. The Go-Go’s split in the mid-80s, and Belinda (now with more familiar long red hair), launched a solo career.
This really was a success, with “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” becoming a chart-topper in January 1988 for two weeks in the UK (and for one week in America in December 1987), as this had much more mainstream appeal. Put it this way, this one wasn’t released on Stiff Records. Belinda would have solo Top Ten hits well into the 90s. Her former bandmate Jane Wiedlin also launched a solo career, her best-known single being 1988’s “Rush Hour”.
They did finally get back together in the mid-90s, and they had a long-overdue Top 40 hit in the UK in February 1995 with “The Whole World Lost Its Head”, from their best-of, that they performed on Talking Telephone Numbers and everything. Ever since then, The Go-Go’s have occasionally got back together, with their most recent album being released in 2001.