The Loving KindThe Loving Kind

Writers - Cooper/Higgins/Powell/Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2008
Original album - Out of Control (Girls Aloud)
Producer - Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Subsequent albums - Yes 2017 reissue Further Listening 2008-2010 bonus disc (Pet Shop Boys)
Other releases - single (UK #10) (Girls Aloud)

Chris and Neil wrote this song during the sessions for their 2009 album Yes in collaboration with the production team of Xenomania. After completing it, however, Chris expressed serious reservations about its appropriateness as a Pet Shop Boys release. So Xenomania leader Brian Higgins asked if he could record it instead with one of his most successful client acts, Girls Aloud, who happened to be recording their own next album in an adjacent studio. The Boys readily agreed. In fact, Xenomania's work with Girls Aloud had been among our musical heroes' chief motivations for calling on Higgins to produce Yes.

Their compositional collaborators, in addition to Higgins, are Xenomania regulars Miranda Cooper and Tim Powell. More specifically, Neil and Ms. Cooper collaborated on the lyrics. Neil and Chris are also credited (along with several others) on the Girls Aloud recording with "keyboards and programming." Further, as confirmed by the official website, Neil's "pitched-up voice can be heard in the choruses singing 'Whatever happened?'"

"The Loving Kind" first appeared on Out of Control, the Girls Aloud album released in early November 2008. Advance publicity about the album made a lot of its "sixties influences," though that's debatable with regard to this particular track. It quickly proved a fan favorite and was released as the album's second single—with a noticeably but not drastically different "radio mix"—in mid-January 2009. (Copies of the track and its video, however, were leaked to the media more than a month before.) It reached the U.K. Top 10 in its first week of release.

When the Girls originally sang the song, they found themselves too closely modeling their vocals on Neil's demo performance. It was only after Neil told them they should sing it their own way—and after they asked him to leave the studio since they apparently found his presence there a bit intimidating ("overawed" is how one of them said she felt)—that they managed to escape the strong influence of his own vocal style.

The song's narrator is in a struggling love relationship, which is not exactly unfamiliar territory for a Tennant lyric—but, then again, hardly unfamiliar territory for popular music lyrics in general. In this case, she senses that, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, her lover may have somehow come to believe that she's "not the loving kind." So the bulk of the song describes the lengths to which she will go to restore his romantic confidence in her—and perhaps her own self-confidence. She says, for instance, "I'll buy you flowers, I'll pour you wine, do anything to change your mind." And if he's still "disinclined" to believe in her, she suggests it may be something as simple—and as crucial—as a kiss that will ultimately prove the deciding factor.

Girls Aloud member Nadine Coyle has put a somewhat different spin on the lyrics: "It's the story of a relationship with the girl basically saying 'I'm not going to fall for your every whim, but I will try.'" With this reading, the text doesn't describe how the narrator fears she may be inaccurately perceived by her lover. Instead, it accurately assesses her personality. That is, she acknowledges that she really isn't "the loving kind." But she's willing to try harder to be more loving in order to salvage their relationship. This interpretation is borne out by the song's official video, which starts out with the Girls acting seductively. But by the end they come across as—and I don't know how better to put it—rather bitchy.

All in all, it's a charming track, melodically lovelier than the vast majority of the stuff on contemporary radio. Not surprisingly, the Pet Shop Boys eventually released their own rendition of it (the "Monitor Mix") as a bonus track with the 2017 reissue of Yes. It's well worth noting, however, that the PSB version differs lyrically from the Girls Aloud rendition, as described in my third annotation below.


Interestingly, the "official" lyrics as posted on the PSB website has the Girls Aloud wording.


Officially released

Girls Aloud rendition:

PSB rendition:

List cross-references