Happy birthday, Belinda Carlisle! The diva and main lead singer of the Go-Go’s was born Aug. 17, 1958.
The band roared to Billboard chart success in the early ’80s, with its debut album, Beauty and the Beat, topping the Billboard 200 for six weeks, powered by its hit singles “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” The group would add four more charted albums through 2001, including its second top 10, Vacation, in 1982.
Carlisle, meanwhile, would go on to chart three top 40 albums of her own: Belinda (No. 13, 1986), Heaven on Earth (No. 13, 1988) and Runaway Horses (No. 37, 1989). In 1987, she hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.”
“There’s no question we were pioneers of women in music,” Carlisle told Billboard in 2013. “I’m very proud of the success I’ve had, both with the band and as a solo artist. It’s pretty surreal for a Valley Girl to go from working as a secretary to hitting the top of the Billboard charts within a three-year period, so it definitely meant a lot to me at the time.
“It still makes me smile to think about it now.”
In honor of Carlisle’s birthday, here’s a look at the Biggest Hot 100 hits by the Go-Go’s, who continue as a quartet – Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey and Gina Schock, following the 2013 departure of Kathy Valentine – and Carlisle and Wiedlin. (In all, the Go-Go’s charted seven Hot 100 hits, Carlisle nine and Wiedlin four; Caffey charted one song, in 1989, as a member of the Graces, which included Meredith Brooks, who’d go on to hit No. 2 in 1997 with “Bitch.”)
The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Hot 100 chart. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, time frames were weighted to account for the difference in chart turnover rates.
10, “Head Over Heels,” Go-Gos
Hot 100 peak: No. 11, 1984
9, “Leave a Light On,” Belinda Carlisle
Hot 100 peak: No. 11, 1989
8, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” Go-Go’s
Hot 100 peak: No. 20, 1981
7, “Rush Hour,” Jane Wiedlin
Hot 100 peak: No. 9, 1988
6, “Vacation,” Go-Go’s
Hot 100 peak: No. 8, 1982
5, “Circle in the Sand,” Belinda Carlisle
Hot 100 peak: No. 7, 1988
4, “I Get Weak,” Belinda Carlisle
Hot 100 peak: No. 2, 1988
3, “Mad About You,” Belinda Carlisle
Hot 100 peak: No. 3, 1986
2, “We Got the Beat,” Go-Go’s
Hot 100 peak: No. 2 (three weeks), 1982
1, “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” Belinda Carlisle
Hot 100 peak: No. 1 (one week), 1987
As “Heaven” co-writer Rick Nowels recalled to Billboard on how the song came about, “[Co-writer] Ellen (Shipley) had the title ‘Heaven on Earth.’ I was playing around with a Prince-type rhythm and sang ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth.’ We both decided it was more original.
“The first draft of the song had a different minor-key verse, along with the minor-key chorus. We actually recorded it with Belinda and I began to feel that the chorus was a hit, but the verse was not great. So, Ellen and I got together and quietly rewrote the verse. I knew I wanted to modulate into the chorus, which is why the pre-chorus goes to a different key and then back to the original key for the chorus. I had to tell Belinda that we rewrote the song and had to rerecord it. As soon as we played it for her, she agreed.
“I put a lot of time into the arrangement of the song. The original version was with live drums. I went back to the LinnDrum for the final version. It was more driving.
“The song went from my little writing room to No. 1 at radio all around the world. That is always exciting. I’m really proud of the song and I know it touched a lot of people. I stand by the message.”