"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.

"Girl U Want"
Single by Devo
from the album Freedom of Choice
B-side"Whip It", "Mr. B's Ballroom"
Format7", CD
GenreNew wave
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer(s)Robert Margouleff
Devo singles chronology
"Gut Feeling"
"Girl U Want"
"Whip It"
Music video
"Girl U Want" on YouTube


"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 videoEdit

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 listingEdit

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 receptionEdit

Steve Huey of AllMusic noted 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 versionEdit

"Girl U Want"
Single by Robert Palmer
from the album Honey
B-side"No Fuss"
Format7", CD
GenrePop rock, hard rock
LabelEMI Records
Producer(s)Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer singles chronology
"Girl U Want"
"Know by Now"

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

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

A music video was filmed to promote the single.[7] Palmer also performed the song on the UK music show Top of the Pops on June 16, 1994.[8][9]

Critical receptionEdit

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."[10] People described Palmer's version as "head-banging new wave".[11]

Track listingEdit

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 performanceEdit

Chart (1994) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 118
Japanese Singles Chart (Tokyo)[6] 22
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)[5] 57


  • 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 coversEdit

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 slowed-down version for the action comedy film Tank Girl.[13] The version with Bell and Devo singing is heard in the film's opening sequence, but the version on the soundtrack album is Devo without Bell. That same year, "Girl U Want" played during the ending credits of the parody film 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 Radio Disney's Devo 2.0 project, the track appearing as "Boy U Want", featuring 13-year-old Nicole Stoehr singing altered lyrics over the familiar backing tracks by Devo.[14][15]

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


  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.[failed verification]
  5. ^ a b "ROBERT PALMER - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "J-WAVE WEBSITE : TOKIO HOT100". J-wave.co.jp. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  7. ^ "Robert Palmer - Girl U Want". YouTube. 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  8. ^ "BBC Online - Top of the Pops - Video Archive". Bbc.co.uk. 1994-06-16. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  9. ^ "Top of the Pops - Videoclips". Bbc..co.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  10. ^ Mathew, Leslie. "Honey – Robert Palmer". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  11. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Honey". People.com. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2015-07-15". Imgur. Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  13. ^ veorens (7 August 2009). "Tank Girl Opening Credits (OP)". YouTube. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  14. ^ "The Strange Saga of Disney's Preteen Devo Cover Band". Nerdist.com. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Are They Not Kids? Yes, They Are — And They're Giving Devo A Disney Makeover". Mtv.com. Retrieved 16 July 2018.

External linksEdit