UNSUBVERSIVELY SUBVERSIVE

When this song came out, one could follow a number of known acts that were much more overtly subversive and provocative than these girls from LA.  In my own early attempts to reach for stuff that my peers ignored, no matter the musical genre or style, I didn't give them much of my time then, even though their presence couldn't be easily escaped.  However, when you consider the very unfortunate and shocking happenstance that there would not TO THIS DAY be another all-female band - who wrote their own stuff - to chart and resonate like the Go Gos did, they almost become subversive and provocative by default as a band who broke through a gender barrier and likely inspired a large section of the young female population who may have had yet to find a seemingly more profound feminist inspiration.  Of course, even though I consider myself in no position to comment on how female acts develop or how they should, or by what young females should be inspired, I by no means fault women for the fact that all-female-band successes on that level are not ever-present.  I naturally fault the different forms of corporate marginalization, as I do with most issues. But I digress.  Though their videos featured them in colorful, inoffensive clothing and smiling faces, and though they lacked the indie cool factor of bands like their overtly subversive contemporaries The Slits or more recent all-female acts like Sleater-Kinney, there is enough raw and unabashed energy to those early recordings, with their mix of surf, mod-rock and what I would call "pre-emo," that to ignore the cool factor of BEAUTY AND THE BEAT and parts of VACATION is, in my opinion, to be blinded by the commercialization that occurred as soon as it was learned that they might be something special.  If nothing else, from a song-writing standpoint, the Go Gos best songs are - if there were an objective measure for a great song - about as good as they get.  I mean, "Our Lips Are Sealed," We Got the Beat," "Head Over Heels," and "Vacation"....that's a significant amount of undeniably hooky and superbly constructed songs that were not only huge hits, they were important as cultural statements.  Factoring in production, the potential angles of lyrical interpretation, cultural importance, song structure, and melodic hook, I would put "Our Lips are Sealed" on my list of the Top 20 American Pop-Rock songs (Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" is and will always be No.1, and the Beach Boys could possibly sit on about 30% of the list).  I suppose it seems, at this point, that I'm just some Go Gos fanboy that can't stand not to express his love for them and try to convince would-be readers of their coolness.  Uh...not really.  Admittedly I've only listened to their two seminal records a handful of times, whereas I've listened to the Breeders LAST SPLASH album, for example, like 1200 times, and I'd much rather listen to Kleenex or The Slits if I'm just passing time.  However, I just heard this song again recently, and it dawned on me that there may be an under-appreciation of their significance by whatever pop-culture intelligentsia there may be (and if there is such a thing...fuck them anyway) and that perhaps beneath the veil of American wholesomeness and commercial-acceptability lies an unacknowledged yet inherent subversiveness. I'm sure some Sontag-ian essayist has put it all together in a more intelligent way, so let's just set that very long-winded introduction aside, and say that if "Our Lips are Sealed" were on top of the charts today, it would perhaps be seen as a most poignant indictment of our current, troll-ridden, social-media-centric, news-as-propaganda culture....or it could a be the co-opted themesong for the corporations that make up the American military industrial complex. 

 

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