Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Our Lips Are Sealed" Becomes Early MTV Hit AKA The World Meets Belinda Carlisle ... And She Suddenly Looks Hawt

Once upon a time, Terry and Jane had a little secret. From a Jane Wiedlin interview with
In 1980 we were playing at The Whiskey on Sunset Strip, and The Specials were in town from England, and they came to see us, and they really liked us and asked us if we would be their opening act on their tour. I met Terry Hall, the singer of The Specials, and ended up having kind of a romance. He sent me the lyrics to "Our Lips Are Sealed" later in the mail, and it was kind of about our relationship, because he had a girlfriend at home and all this other stuff ... So I don't know how I got in the picture. And, you know, that's something that I did as a teenager, maybe I was 20. That's something I would never do now, knowingly enter into a relationship with someone who was with someone else. I mean, it was completely screwed on my part. Although I think when people do that, you really have to look at the person who's in the relationship, and they have to take the burden of the responsibility as well. Anyways, it was one of those things with the tragic letters, "I just can't do this." You know, "I'm betrothed to another." All that kind of stuff ... So it was all very dramatic. I really liked the lyrics, so I finished the lyrics and wrote the music to it, and the rest is history.
Well, isn't it nice to be Terry Hall? Your correspondence becomes hit songs. You don't even have to do anything!

Some time ago, I wrote that "Our Lips Are Sealed" sounded like a "fun, retro, early '60s girl group song that didn't strive toward anything profound," but I liked it anyway. Well, maybe it strove for something profound after all. As it would so often do, I think the Go-Go's sprightly sound camouflaged a very emotionally barbed situation:
Can you hear them?
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well, that's no surprise

Can you see them?
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal

It doesn't matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed

There's a weapon
That we must use
In our defense

When you look at them
Look right through them
That's when they'll disappear
That's when we'll be feared
These are actually some pretty great lyrics! Hell, if you were merely just looking at them on a cold, indifferent page, you might imagine a song that sounded like any number of things. I mean, the Go-Go's performance is so bouncy and carefree, it took me a long time before I actually noticed how bitter and vengeful the words are. Silence as a weapon? Hey, better than just enjoying the silence - right, Depeche Mode?

In light of subsequent versions, some have gone on to say that the Go-Go's recording, and Belinda's "come on it's time to party" vocal style, may have masked the complexity of the lyrical content. While possibly true, this does not seem to me like a criticism. After all, "Our Lips Are Sealed" is many things to many people. In the Go-Go's hands, it was the perfect summer pop hit. As AMG's Stewart Mason writes in his song review:'s the small touches in the arrangement ... that elevate it from very good to outstanding: the backbeat-and-tambourines opening, the subtle organ line, the infectious "hey-hey-hey" that leads up to the chorus. The song's most transcendent moment, however, is the glorious bridge, sung by Wiedlin in a sweetly vulnerable falsetto that's even higher than her normal helium-pitched singing voice.
Yes, Jane was even honored with a brief lead singing role, which, off the top of my head, is her only such appearance on a Go-Go's recording. Likewise, Kathy lays down a tasty bass line, Gina rocks what the band considered a "disco" beat, and Charlotte churns out some chiming, Byrds-ish guitar licks. But when the song climbed the charts in late 1981, it wasn't Gina, Kathy, Charlotte, or Jane whom listeners noticed.

Although people seem to remember "Our Lips Are Sealed" as being some sort of monster hit, and arguably the Go-Go's most famous song, in reality it only peaked on the U.S. charts at #20 (although it climbed to #3 in Canada and #2 in Australia, where it is fondly known by the mondegreen "Alex the Seal"). But it had legs, as they say, sticking around long enough to place at #63 on Billboard's year-end Top 100 of 1982 list, slightly ahead of America's "You Can Do Magic," which originally peaked at #8, and A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran (So Far Away)," which originally peaked at #4. That's pretty good. But ultimately, what probably made the song such a big hit in the public's mind was a certain video clip, filmed with some leftover Police budget money, which happened to be placed in heavy rotation by a brand new television network.

Which brings me to the other thing that probably helped: a certain lead singer must have lost a little weight, because by the time the Go-Go's filmed the video for "Our Lips Are Sealed," the formerly frumpy punk rocker now looked like this:

The sky cracked open, the trumpets blared, and peace and goodwill reigned throughout the earth. Gods wept, demons howled.

Hot Belinda was born.

Oh my dayum.

Ladies and gentlemen, here it was: the face that launched a thousand wanks. It's funny to think, of course, about the Belinda that people didn't see: the purple hair, the trashbag dress, the abusive stepfather, the witchcraft, the long nights in the basement of an L.A. porn theater, feasting on oatmeal and Sweet 'N' Low. Oh no, the very first time most young American males saw Belinda Carlisle, they saw this:

Suddenly, in this magical new incarnation, she was every teenage boy's high school dream. The video actually cuts back and forth between footage of the band driving around in a convertible and footage of the band performing at a club. I'm not saying Belinda doesn't look good in that sleeveless rainbow dress (or whatever it may happen to be), but I'm definitely going for the onstage Belinda here, with the sabertooth tiger necklace and that little gold ribbon in her hair - oh God, the ribbon!!

Judging by several YouTube comments, I am not alone in my opinion. But the anonymity of YouTube has granted viewers free license to state their appreciation in cruder, more vulgar terminology than the language I might use:
lead singer is fine as hell

Damn! That singer is a fuckin' CUTIE!! :D

Ahhhh Belinda Carlisle!! Massive childhood crush ha ha....

Rape me Belinda....PLEASE!!!

Oh Belinda, you should have never left me for fame and fortune. You know we could have lived out our lives in that quaint bungalow that the town folk called a "shed". It doesn't matter what they said Belinda! Its just the jealous games people play!

As a teen of 80's ,who in gods name need's viagra after seeing this!

These girls were responsible for my first real erection. Don't laugh. I've still got it!

Belinda Carlise is by far the HOTTEST BABE EVER in rock!! As one previous commentor noted," a nice tan a great smile."

Who would not want to Fuck the shit out Of Belinda, I was a kid when this video came out and I want to do it then.

God .... Belinda Carlisle was (is) so freaking hot.

I'm still hopelessly addicted to Belinda and Jane. If a cure comes along, I'll kick its ass!

Belinda C. Oww! And I'm gay, but she is hot.

Belinda was always going to go far with that voice, being hot helps

oh wow...there's something about BC with that ribbon in her hair...jzzzzz

Belinda Carlisle......sooooo hot.....want to touch the hiney.
Other commentators are slightly more critical:
Brenda that what everyone is wanking off to? LOL....she looks like a female Thomas Dolby. Yeesh, get a life.

At least two of them are dikes, and Belinda is the only really attractive one...though she's a mental screw-up.

At 2.37 and 2.38 in the fountainpool she shows her underwear with an unshaved pussy :)
Wondering if she shaved her bikiniline.
Very untastefull.
Belinda 0-1 for your apperance.

lol it sounds like they're saying "they talk about us, selling my ass at a lacklustre price"

i love knowing Belinda was all fucked up

the sexual comments on this page is sad. as if Belinda would touch any of you with a barge pole
Of course, our ultimate teen dream queen clearly sensed how crucial MTV would be to the band's success, right? From Lips Unsealed:
I was clueless about the impact it would have on music, fashion, and pop culture.

Just to show where my head was at, I thought making a music video was a stupid idea. I had grumbled about it being a waste of time and asked why I had to do it. It just seemed ridiculous, and so I gave it a half-assed effort. I couldn't even be bothered to get out of the car when, after tooling around in the convertible, we pulled up in front of Trashy Lingerie and Jane did her solo, singing, "Hush, my darling." If you look close, you can see me hiding; I'm bent down but the top of my head shows.

We also tried to amuse ourselves by getting arrested. That's how we ended up frolicking in the water fountain at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. We thought if we jumped in, a cop would see us, stop, and there'd be a confrontation, which we would capture on tape. But nobody came to arrest us. Cars just slowed and some guys honked and whistled at us.
Hey, the Beatles had the same idea with the rooftop concert, but all that ended up happening was that some policeman simply knocked on the studio door and politely asked them to stop playing. At any rate, it's precisely that "don't give a shit" attitude that makes this video so precious. I mean, a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters could not re-create the video for "Our Lips Are Sealed." It is such a pure snapshot of the moment. Who wouldn't want to ride around in a convertible and jump into fountains all day? It makes being a Go-Go seem like the most awesome occupation in the world. Of course, little did people know, but these five fresh, lively young women feasted on elvish babies in their free time.

Meanwhile, as Miles Copeland watched the rough cut in his office, and saw that bright, angelic face fill the screen, the dollar signs began flashing across his eyes.

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