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Girl U Want

"Girl U Want"
Single by Devo
from the album Freedom of Choice
B-side "Whip It", "Mr. B's Ballroom"
Released 1980
Format 7", CD
Genre New wave
Length 2:55
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh
Producer(s) Robert Margouleff
Devo singles chronology
"Secret Agent Man"
"Girl U Want"
"Whip It"

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


  • Song Information 1
  • Music video 2
  • Track listing 3
  • Critical reception 4
  • Robert Palmer version 5
    • Release 5.1
    • Promotion 5.2
    • Critical reception 5.3
    • Track listing 5.4
    • Chart performance 5.5
    • Personnel 5.6
  • Alternate versions and covers 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Song Information

"Girl U Want" was inspired by the song "My Sharona" by The Knack.[1] 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

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

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

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.[2]

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."[3]

Robert Palmer version

"Girl U Want"
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
Producer(s) Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer singles chronology
"Girl U Want"
"Know by Now"

"Girl U Want" was covered by English vocalist Robert Palmer. Produced solely by Palmer,[4] the song was released in 1994 as the first of three singles from the album, Honey.[5] The track was a moderate but disappointing commercial success in the UK, where it peaked at No. 57 for a total of two weeks.[6] In Japan, the single was a bigger success, where it peaked at No. 22 for a total of 10 weeks.[7]


The single was released on 7" vinyl and CD single within the UK and on CD in Japan, using the same version of the song as on the album. The single was not released in Europe or America, although it was also released in the Netherlands.[8] The song's main b-side was the non-album track "No Fuss", written by Palmer.[4]

The song's 7" vinyl was released in the UK only, featuring the track and "No Fuss". The CD release in the UK and Netherlands featured the track and its B-side, with a remix titled "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)".[8] It was remixed by Pino "Pinaxa" Pischetola, who had also remixed Palmer's two future singles, "Know by Now" and "You Blow Me Away", both from the Honey album.[9][10]

In Japan, the snap-pack CD featured "Girl U Want" along with the album version of future single "Know by Now" and the remix "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)".[11] A promotional CD was released in Japan which featured the same track listing.[12]

A promotional CD single was also released in the UK, featuring "Girl U Want" as the only track on a custom disc with a custom picture sleeve.[13]

The singles' artwork remained the same for all editions of the single.


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

Critical reception

In the review for the album Honey, mentioned the song, writing "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."[17]

Track listing

7" Single
  1. "Girl U Want" - 2:23
  2. "No Fuss" - 3:11
CD Single (UK Release)
  1. "Girl U Want" - 2:23
  2. "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)" - 3:02
  3. "No Fuss" - 3:11
CD Single (UK Promotional 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
CD Single (Japan Promotional Release)
  1. "Girl U Want" - 2:23
  2. "Know by Now" - 4:11
  3. "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)" - 3:03

Chart performance

Chart (1994) Peak
Japanese Singles Chart (Tokyo)[7] 22
UK Singles Chart[6] 57


  • Lead vocals, arranger - Robert Palmer
  • Producer of "Girl U Want" - Robert Palmer
  • Mixer of "Girl U Want" - Pino "Pinaxa" Pischetola
  • Remixer of "Girl U Want (The Pinaxa Mix)" - Pino "Pinaxa" Pischetola
  • Producer of "No Fuss" - Robert Palmer
  • Producer of "Know by Now" - Robert Palmer
  • Executive producer - David Harper
  • Art montage - Howard Greenalgh
  • Photography - Nigel Parry
  • Design - Bill Smith Studio, London
  • Writers of "Girl U Want" - Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale
  • Writer of "No Fuss" - Robert Palmer
  • Writer of "Know by Now" - Robert Palmer

Alternate versions and covers

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, in the style of a 1992 cover by Soundgarden. 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 game 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".

"Girl U Want" has been covered by Soundgarden, Superchunk,[18] Zombie Ghost Train, Doomriders, the Freelance Whales, Chancho en Piedra and I:Scintilla.[19]

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.[20]


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External links

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