How I Learned to Hate Rock 'n' Roll

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1996
Original album - Bilingual 2001 reissue Further Listening 1995-1997 bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Format
Other releases - bonus track with single "Se A Vida É"

This bonus track on the U.K. "Se A Vida É" CD single is the definitive statement of Neil and Chris as "anti-rock stars." In fact, can you imagine any contemporary pop band other than the Pet Shop Boys writing, recording, and releasing a song like this? A monumental act of pop-culture affrontery, not to mention self-assurance, this track outlines some of the Boys' basic antagonisms toward mainstream rock music: conformity amidst the pretense of non-conformity ("Everybody does what everybody does"), ugly sounds expressing even uglier sentiments, the tendency to trash and dismiss beautiful, important things merely for the sake of doing so. While this has all the hallmarks of a "Chris track" (though with more lyrics than most), Neil surely had no qualms about going along for the ride.

It's perhaps significant that, when "Se A Vida É" was released as a single in the U.S., "How I Learned to Hate Rock 'n' Roll" was not included as a bonus track. Apparently Atlantic Records (the Boys' U.S. distributor at the time) felt that this track would only further damage their reputation in the States.

An extremely interesting sidenote: the Boys' frequent programmer and musical assistant Pete Gleadall has noted (in a 1996 interview with Matt Bell for Sound on Sound magazine) that this song is unusual in that it was recorded directly and completely onto computer. That is, while it's not unusual for the Boys to record various portions of their music—particularly the instrumental tracks—on the computer, everything, including the vocals, was recorded on the computer in "How I Learned to Hate Rock 'n' Roll." That somehow seems apropos, doesn't it?


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