Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from Californian new wave band the Go-Go's. Released in 1981 on the I.R.S. Records label, the album was preceded by the single and signature song "We Got the Beat", which became a club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks, ranking second among Billboard's Top 100 albums of 1981. The LP sold in excess of two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the "cornerstone albums of American new wave".
Beauty and the Beat was released to reviews that, while positive, were not outstanding, especially in light of its eventual summit of the album charts. Robert Christgau found the album good and wrote "this one's got hooks" in his column in The Village Voice. while Jon Pareles in Rolling Stone called it a "solid, likable debut". The album placed 10th on the annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll in The Village Voice for 1981.
The album has since gained in regard. AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Beauty and the Beat "one of the cornerstone albums of new wave" and praised its "catchy hooks and an exuberant sense of fun", while Rolling Stone's Warren Zanes wrote that the band "showed that elemental pop rock & roll remained as viable as ever".
Eric Allen of American Songwriter, reviewing the 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition in 2008, wrote that Beauty and the Beat is "one of the 1980s cornerstone albums of American new wave" and the "album still holds up surprisingly well thirty years later, which is a testament to the energetic spirit captured in this musical Zeitgeist of the 80s"; on the other hand, it is also "a reminder that the Go-Go's were never able to equal or surpass the success of this landmark debut".
"When I was about seven, I discovered the Go-Go's," said American actress and author Drew Barrymore in an interview published by the magazine V. "I went out and bought their album Beauty and the Beat and, as the vinyl twirled, my whole world changed. I stared at the girls on the cover like they were a gateway to cool. The fact that they were girls made me feel not only invited but more important – like I could be a badass too. I looked over to my Pippi Longstocking poster on the wall and thought, Yes! I like girls who rock!"
The album gained a deluxe remastered compact disc when EMI released the Beauty and the Beat 30th Anniversary Edition on May 17, 2008. Disc one features the remastered original album while disc two offers an entire live show, recorded at the Metro Club in Boston on August 20, 1978. Both Vacation (1982) and Talk Show (1984) were previously issued in remastered CD form in 1999.