Girl U Want

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"Girl U Want"
Girluwant.jpg
Single by Devo
from the album Freedom of Choice
B-side "Whip It", "Mr. B's Ballroom"
Released 1980
Format 7", CD
Genre
Length 2:55
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Robert Margouleff
Devo singles chronology
"Gut Feeling"
(1979)
"Girl U Want"
(1980)
"Whip It"
(1980)
"Gut Feeling"
(1979)
"Girl U Want"
(1980)
"Whip It"
(1980)
Music video
"Girl U Want" on YouTube

"Girl U Want" is a 1980 single by American new wave band Devo. It was the first single released from the album Freedom of Choice.

Composition[edit]

"Girl U Want" was allegedly inspired by the song "My Sharona" by The Knack,[1] although Devo bassist and co-writer Gerald Casale has denied this claim.[2] The lyrics, in typical Devo style, describe a relationship marked by unrequited love/lust for a woman. "Girl U Want" was first performed in December 1979 in a similar arrangement to the album version.

Music video[edit]

In the music video, Devo performs for a group of young women in the style of a performance from The Ed Sullivan Show, with two robotic backup dancers, one male and one female. Further implying the televised nature of the performance, the color in the video is deliberately altered to make the red of the band's energy dome headgear look almost purple. The band wears the silver naugahyde suits from the cover of Freedom of Choice, and mime the song with Moog Liberation synthesizers.

During the video, the camera focuses on the girls in the audience exaggeratedly enjoying the performance, including one girl who is visually implied to "wet" herself, which transitions to a scene of General Boy controlling the backup dancers. At one point, Mark Mothersbaugh pulls aside the curtain behind the band to show an overweight man on a vibrating exercise machine, attempting to drink a milkshake to the ecstatic reaction of the audience. As the video ends, girls in the audience are shown holding signs with icons, including an electrical outlet.

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (American release)
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:56
  2. "Turn Around" – 2:45
7" Single (American promo)
  1. "Girl U Want (Mono)" – 2:56
  2. "Girl U Want (Stereo)" – 2:56
7" Single (European release)
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:56
  2. "Turn Around" – 2:10

Critical reception[edit]

Steve Huey of AllMusic spoke of the song in a review of the album, stating "Several tunes – like the oft-covered "Girl U Want" – have a geeky (but pragmatic) romantic angst that was new to Devo albums, although the band's view of relationships is occasionally colored by their cultural themes of competition and domination." Huey also highlighted "Girl U Want" as an album standout by labeling it an AMG Pick Track.[3]

Greg Prato of AllMusic reviewed the song itself, stating "While writing material for their third full-length album, Devo's main songwriters, Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale, took notice of the Knack's current success with their quirky single "My Sharona," and decided to write their version of the song. The result was one of their finest tracks, "Girl U Want"; but, strangely, it wasn't that track that made the album such a commercial success. The stiff yet irresistible main synth riff (doubled with guitar) is instantly catchy and memorable, while the lyrics deal with unrequited love. While some find it hard to look past Devo's wacky costumes and focus on their music, the fact is that Mothersbaugh and Casale were great songwriters. "Girl U Want" is definitely one of the most overlooked gems to surface from the early-'80s new wave movement."[4]

Robert Palmer version[edit]

"Girl U Want"
Robert Palmer Girl U Want Single 1994.jpg
Single by Robert Palmer
from the album Honey
B-side "No Fuss"
Released 1994
Format 7", CD
Genre Rock, pop
Length 2:23
Label EMI Records
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer singles chronology
"Witchcraft"
(1992)
"Girl U Want"
(1994)
"Know by Now"
(1994)
"Witchcraft"
(1992)
"Girl U Want"
(1994)
"Know by Now"
(1994)

"Girl U Want" was covered by English vocalist Robert Palmer in 1994. Produced solely by Palmer,[5] the song was released as the lead single from his twelfth studio album Honey.[6] The track was a moderate but disappointing commercial success in the UK, where it peaked at No. 57.[7] In Japan, it achieved greater success, reaching No. 22.[8]

The single was released on 7" vinyl, cassette and CD in the UK, and on CD in the Netherlands and Japan.[9] The song's B-side was the non-album track "No Fuss".[5] The UK and Netherlands CD release featured an additional track; "The Panaxa Mix" of "Girl U Want" by Pino "Pinaxa" Pischetola.[10][11] The Japanese CD featured the same remix, but replaced "No Fuss" with "Know By Now" from the Honey album.[12]

A music video was filmed to promote the single.[13] Palmer also performed the song on the UK music show Top of The Pops on June 16, 1994.[14][15]

Critical reception[edit]

In a review of Honey, AllMusic said: "Palmer himself sounds as inhumanly suave as ever, though much of the material is a prescription for déjà vu. Tracks like the funk-lashed cover of Devo's "Girl U Want" are dead ringers for the stuff on the Riptide album."[16] People described Palmer's version as "head-banging new wave".[17]

Track listing[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:23
  2. "No Fuss" – 3:11
CD Single (UK/Netherlands release)
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:23
  2. "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)" – 3:02
  3. "No Fuss" – 3:11
CD Single (UK promo release)
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:23
CD Single (Japan release)
  1. "Girl U Want" – 2:23
  2. "Know by Now" – 4:10
  3. "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)" – 3:02

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[18] 118
Japanese Singles Chart (Tokyo)[8] 22
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)[7] 57

Personnel[edit]

  • Robert Palmer - vocals, arranger, producer
  • Pino "Pinaxa" Pischetola - mixing, remixer of "The Pinaxa Mix"
  • David Harper - executive producer
  • Howard Greenalgh - art montage
  • Nigel Parry - photography
  • Bill Smith Studio, London - design

Alternate versions and covers[edit]

In 1981, Devo recorded an instrumental easy listening version of the song for a fan club distributed cassette tape. This version was popular enough to be performed live, with vocals, on the 1982 tour. In 1995, a reunited Devo, joined by Bulimia Banquet vocalist Jula Bell, recorded a version for the film Tank Girl, and the version of the song was also used in the 1996 Alicia Silverstone comedy No Secrets, No Regrets, in the style of a 1992 cover by Soundgarden.[citation needed] That same year, the song also played during the end credits of Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. Another re-recording of "Girl U Want" was used for the music videogame Rock Band. In 2006, Devo re-recorded the song once again for the Devo 2.0 project. Two versions were released: "Boy U Want" with almost completely new lyrics, and a version with slightly modified lyrics as "Girl U Want"[citation needed].

"Girl U Want" has been covered by Soundgarden, Superchunk,[19] Zombie Ghost Train, Doomriders, the Freelance Whales, Chancho en Piedra and I:Scintilla.[20]

In their 2011 song "Luck Dragon Lady!", comedy rock band The Aquabats, who have referenced Devo in several of their songs, directly quote the "Girl U Want" line "[We'll] drift on down in a mist from above" in the lyrics. In 2013, The Royal Iguana Fur also released a cover titled "The Girl You Want" on the album Wing Dings.[21]

CRX, Nick Valensi of The Strokes' side-band, covered the song live in some 2017 shows. Their version combined the speed, synths and new wave sound of the original, with the heavy guitars of Soundgarden's cover.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Girl U Want". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  2. ^ Ivan, DJ (July 2005). "Interview with Gerald Casale of DEVO (6-12-05)". earcandymag.com. 
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Freedom of Choice - Devo : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  4. ^ Prato, Greg. "Girl U Want - Devo : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  5. ^ a b "Robert Palmer - Girl U Want / No Fuss - EMI - UK - EM 331". 45cat. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  6. ^ "Robert Palmer – Honey at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/16930/robert-palmer/
  8. ^ a b "J-WAVE WEBSITE : TOKIO HOT100". J-wave.co.jp. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  9. ^ https://www.discogs.com/master/view/464352}
  10. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Palmer-Girl-U-Want/release/3358180
  11. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Palmer-Girl-U-Want/release/3688433
  12. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Palmer-Girl-U-Want/release/4211467
  13. ^ "Robert Palmer - Girl U Want". YouTube. 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  14. ^ "BBC Online - Top of the Pops - Video Archive". Bbc.co.uk. 1994-06-16. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  15. ^ "Top of the Pops - Videoclips". BBC. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  16. ^ Mathew, Leslie. "Honey – Robert Palmer". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  17. ^ http://people.com/archive/picks-and-pans-review-honey-vol-42-no-13/
  18. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2015-07-15". Imgur. Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  19. ^ "Freedom of Choice". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "I:Scintilla - Marrow 1 at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  21. ^ "Wingdings | The Royal Iguana Fur". Theroyaliguanafurs.bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 

External links[edit]