Greatest Un-Hits: The Go-Go’s, “The Whole World Lost Its Head” (1994)

Written by Greatest Un-Hits, Music

A look at songs that aren’t necessarily good or bad, merely ones that, because of the climate of the music world during their release, somehow, someway, were not the massive hit songs they should logically have been.

Nineteen ninety-four was a most fortuitous time to be a lady rock star. Well past the Benatar/Pretenders era, in which women who played guitars or sang on songs that had guitars in them was seen by many as an adorable, fetishized novelty, the Gen X-ers who dominated rock in the mid-’90s weren’t too hung up on much gender role nonsense. Coupled with the need for alternative rock to both follow-up and fill in a newly Nirvana-free world, this allowed for a huge volume of female acts to gain mainstream exposure: Liz Phair, the Breeders, Belly, Hole, Juliana Hatfield, and Letters to Cleo, for example.

The environment was right, then, for a comeback by both a beloved, influential older act, particularly a female one. And so, IRS released a two-disc retrospective on ’80s stars the Go-Go’s called Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s. For the “one new song on the greatest hits album,” which was the style at the time, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, and the others reunited to record “The Whole World Lost Its Head.” The video, which got a lot of play on MTV (fine, VH1) evoked and updated the Go-Go’s classic “Vacation,” what with the many, many head-shots of the band members against a blue screen while they appeared to propel through time and space. The band even pulled off the hardest thing to do when an old group tries to re-emerge: “The Whole World Lost Its Head” sounded very of-1994, but was unmistakably Go-Go’s, too. It didn’t sound dated, and it didn’t sound like anybody was trying too hard to fit in.

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And despite all of that, and a full-on media blitz hyping the newly reformed Go-Go’s and their impact on the history of popular music, the reaction was a hearty “meh.” “The Whole World Lost Its Head” made it to #8 on Billboard‘s “Bubbling Under” chart, and moderately registered on the Modern Rock Tracks at #21.