My Girl

Writers - Mike Barson
First released - 2009
Original album - Christmas EP
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - Yes 2017 reissue Further Listening 2008-2010 bonus disc

On May 2, 2008, the Pet Shop Boys performed as part of a show at London's Heaven nightclub to benefit the family of their longtime friend and associate Dainton Connell, who had been killed in an automobile accident the previous year. Included in their set was a special remake of "My Girl," originally a 1980 #3 U.K. hit by the British ska revival band Madness, written by member Mike Barson. Joining Chris and Neil onstage for their cover rendition were two other members of Madness—and friends of Dainton—Suggs (Graham McPherson) and Chas (Carl Smythe), who handled lead vocals.

In preparation for this performance, the Boys recorded a demo version with Neil on lead vocal. Shortly after the benefit show, they posted their demo on their official website for their fans' listening pleasure. It may be a cliché, but it's an accurate one: the Pets have made this song all their own. As it bounces along in its thoroughly enjoyable way, its light, staccato, but driving techno-rhythms help convey and express the narrator's litany of frustrations with his somewhat demanding girlfriend, who simply doesn't understand him: "I like to stay in and watch TV on my own every now and then." (I mean, what guy doesn't want to do that?) Neil's dry, understated vocal adds to our sense of the narrator's sadness at finding himself in a near-hopeless personal situation, in love with someone who won't fully accept him for who he is.

Our heroes have done a marvelous job of filtering the song's original ska style through their own synthpop sensibilities. As a result, it wouldn't have been one bit out of place on the 1980s pop charts. In fact, it might have made a highly successful single more than a quarter-century after the original. Instead the Boys decided to include it in two new versions—both more elaborately produced than the demo—on their special December 2009 EP Christmas.


Officially released

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