Shake It Up (The Cars song)

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"Shake It Up"
Shake It Up - The Cars (song).jpg
Single by The Cars
from the album Shake It Up
B-side "Cruiser"
Released November 9, 1981 (1981-11-09)
Format 7"
Recorded Syncro Sound, Boston 1981
Genre New wave, dance-rock
Length 3:32
Label Elektra 47250
Songwriter(s) Ric Ocasek
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker
The Cars singles chronology
"Gimme Some Slack"
"Shake It Up"
"Since You're Gone"
"Gimme Some Slack"
"Shake It Up"
"Since You're Gone"
Shake It Up track listing

"Shake It Up" is a song by the Cars from their 1981 album of the same name. Although appearing for the first time in 1981, it was actually written years earlier by the band's songwriter and lead singer Ric Ocasek. The song became one of the Cars' most popular songs (peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1982). With the track "Cruiser" as its b-side, it hit No. 14 on the Billboard Disco Top 80 chart.[1]


The song is primarily reliant on dance-pop as its main genre, with pop rock elements audible. Add to these keyboardist Greg Hawkes synthesizer lines, the associated instrument of bands labeled "new wave" at the time, and it is a prime example of The Cars genre blending.

Drummer David Robinson said at first he did not even want to record the song, as it was "kicking around for years. It never sounded good. We recorded it a couple of times in the studio and dumped it, and we were going to try it one more time, and I was fighting everybody . . . So we thought, let's start all over again, like we've never even heard it—completely change every part—and we did. Then, when it was through and all put back together, it was like a brand-new song."[2]

Guitarist Elliot Easton said he wanted his solo to sound like "two guys trading off". He plays first a Fender Telecaster in a style skewing "country", then midway through the solo switches to a Gibson Crank to sound more rock.[3]


The song references dance moves, hair styles and having fun. However, bassist Benjamin Orr has stated the song tells the story of how important it is to make a mark in life, to "let them know what you really mean"[4] Thus, the hit song has an existential element as well as a simple message.

Ric Ocasek has since dismissed the song's lyrics, saying, "I’m not proud of the lyrics to 'Shake It Up.'"[5]

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 52. 
  2. ^ Toby Goldstein, Frozen Fire: The Story of The Cars, published 1985 by Contemporary Books, Inc., Chicago IL. ISBN 0-8092-5257-0
  3. ^ Rock Solid Podcast 7/31/2014
  4. ^ "The Cars | New Music And Songs |". 2000-10-03. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  5. ^ Spitz, Mark. "Q&A: Ric Ocasek of the Cars". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Cars - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". AllMusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  7. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  9. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 

External links[edit]