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When somebody talks about the pop music of the eighties, it can be claimed that decade was very important in the history of rock music. Many new acts appeared, many great songs were composed and many people thought that the music of these ten golden years could easily be called timeless.

Due to the retro festivals and events, many old band and singers are in the spotlight again. Belinda Carlisle can easily be one of them because she made her biggest success in the 1980s. Her discography needs re-listening because the music she recorded are timeless and worthy. Every record of hers is qualitative and well-crafted, therefore, it can be declared that despite of changing musical styles, she is a constant star of pop music. Her effect on populate music can be compared to Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen and The B-52’s.


Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer via / CC BY-SA

Her trademark is that special soft rock sound which used the elements of the Sunny Californian pop, chanson, with hints of country, Latin music and blues. The cherry on the top is her clean and yielding mezzo-soprano voice, which sounds warm and dreamy on her slow numbers and ballads. Anyway, it is also great to hear her edgy and raw rocky voice on the fast songs. Comparing to the contemporary artists, she overshadows them easily with her smooth and confident style.

Born and raised up in California, she became interested in punk music in the late seventies then she founded a band with her friends, which later became very successful under the name of ’The Go-Go’s’. The secret of their success was that they used the aggressive voice of punk music with a more relaxed tone of the new wave and pop. Soon, the band became very hot in the world; golden and platinum records and full house shows of tours marked their road. Although they recorded three highly successful long-plays, they disbanded in 1984. 

Courtesy of Universal Music Hungary
Courtesy: Universal Music Hungary

After this period Carlisle continued as a solo artist. She chose a more contemporary and feminine profile for her debut solo album ’Belinda’ which came out in 1986. The romantic 1960s mood can easily be found here, however, the complex sound of the later records can be found here. The most stand-out tracks are the hit single Mad About You’ and the rockier ’Gotta Get to You and the 1960s-inspired ’I Feel the Magic’. ’Belinda’ was successful and it peaked on #13 on the US Billboard 200.

Courtesy: Demon Music Group

For her next record, she teamed up with Rick Nowels and the material showed a big progression comparing to her debut. When ’Heaven on Earth’ was released in 1987, it instantly became a commercial and artistic success. For this record, she provided her more rocky style and the well-crafted and smooth sound became unique.

The up-tempo hit single Heaven is a Place on Earth is one of her best songs. Moreover, it is her biggest success.  The material also showed her more romantic side on 'Circle in the Sand , which is also her evergreen hit. Beside them several other songs charted from the material; the raw-rocker ’I Feel Free’, and the Springsteen-alike ’I Get Weak’ can also be mentioned from the hit-filled record. Naturally, the long-play could achieve enormous success; it topped the charts all over the world turning Belinda into a highly prosperousartist.

Courtesy of Demon Music Group
Courtesy: Demon Music Group

In 1989 her third solo album was released. ‘Runaway Horses' was not only an important milestone of her career, but also it was the best record she had ever made. Its sound developed towards a more relaxed destination and the lyrics showed a more mature artist in many levels. It followed the success of its predecessor but it became bigger in Europe and Australia than in her then-home country.

The first single, ’Leave a Light on’ can be called a masterpiece; it can be claimed that her rockier side had developed much and showed her talent much better. The other hit '(We Want) The Same Thing’ is also a fantastic rocky number as well as the wonderful 'Deep Deep Ocean' and the lovely title track.  On the other hand, her slower ballad style is also well-crafted on the record; the sad impressionist number ’Vision of You’ can be also called as a masterpiece, the Latin-inspired love song 'La Luna' shows her sensuous side. The closure, the partly self-penned beautiful ’Shades of Michelangelo’ is the most beautiful song she has ever recorded.

Courtesy of Demon Music Group
Courtesy: Demon Music Group

Her fourth record, ’Live Your Life Be Free’ was another well-crafted and nice production, however, it lacked some strenghts. Instead of following the the sound of her previous two solo record, her attention turned to the rich sound of the 1960s with touches of contemporary drum sounds. While   'Live Your Life Be Free' is a great rock number with effects of Gospel, tracks like  'Do You Feel Like I Feel', and 'I Plead Insanity' show the modern side of the songstress.

She also present her romantic side which can be traced on the numbers, like the retro boo-woop 'You Came Out of Nowhere', the blues-inspired 'Emotional Highway',  the marvellous 'My Little Black Book' and the sad power ballad ’Half the World. Fortunately, her rockier side still can be found here on the dynamic ’You’re Nothing Without Me’ and the energetic title track. The problem of the album is that it wants to show everything which is connected to the singer; her crafty rockier side, the romantic daydreamer and the modern pop lady. The coherence between the songs is not strongs, so the records can be recommend to such listeners, who are keen on every styles.

The eighties enhanced her into the superstardom, however, it is also important to mention that she was able to remain exigent and popular at the same time. The last years of the decade and the very first ones of the new were like an Indian Summer when many old artists and styles became popular again. Belinda Carlisle had a very good timing in order to show her mature side and by the help of it she gained huge success. During our next musical journey into the second part of her discography we will see how she was able to be an important name of the nineties despite of changing musical styles, new artists and new territories.



The distributor of Belinda Carlisle, Demon Music Group has released all the solo albums and several compilations. For more information, click here.

For further reading: Carlisle, Belinda. Lips Unsealed: A Memoir. New York: Crown, 2010. Print.