Shake It Up (The Cars song)

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"Shake It Up"
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
Writer(s) Ric Ocasek
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker
The Cars singles chronology
"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 would go on to become one of the Cars' most popular songs (peaking at number two on the Billboard Top Tracks chart and number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1982). With the track "Cruiser" as its b-side, it hit number 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 has said at first he didn't 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]

Chart (1981–82) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 10
Canadian Singles Chart 7
French Singles Chart 10
Dutch Singles Chart 48
New Zealand Singles Chart 26
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 4
US Billboard Mainstream Rock[6] 2
US BillboardHot Dance Club Songs[6] 14


  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. ^ [1]
  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. 

External links[edit]