Get It Online

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2013
Original album - (none)
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - bonus track with the single "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct"

Released in September 2013 as a bonus track with the "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct" single, this is, in keeping with the pattern set by the album Electric, a very "electronic-sounding" track—in the words of one site visitor, "very Kraftwerk-esque"—with sampled voices in various languages and a computer-generated or digitally distorted voice (with a hint of Chris's inflections, and sometimes sounding downright "Dalekish") singing the chorus, "Whatever I want, whenever I want, I can get it online." (That chorus is especially unusual in that Chris wrote its lyrics—a real PSB rarity.) Neil sings more of the lyrics, which prove to be an observational commentary on the revolution over the past two decades, greatly accelerated over just the past few years, in how we can so readily acquire over the internet almost anything we want, be it knowledge, physical goods, and even human contacts and relationships. In fact, the internet has, if anything, accentuated one of the driving forces of consumer culture: manufactured need.

Even if you don't need it
Get it anyway

Subsequent lines suggest even more pernicious aspects of online consumerism. For instance, "You might like this" is an obvious allusion to the way in which Amazon and other online retailers use information they gather about your purchasing habits to make facile, superficial assumptions about your tastes and thereby offer perhaps unwelcome recommendations. (If you like Pet Shop Boys, you'll probably like Erasure, too—right? I don't know about you, but I find such recommendations galling and presumptuous—even if, in that particular case, it happens to be accurate, at least for me. It's the principle that I find annoying: keeping track of my purchasing habits and making assumptions about me because of it.) Still later, we hear, "Find a sexual partner/You'll never be alone," alluding to the way in which the internet seems increasingly to serve for many people as a substitute for forming relationships and/or engaging in genuine interpersonal contact and caring. One can have hundreds of "Facebook friends" but few if any real friends he or she can actually touch.

The basic message of the song seems quite direct. The online phenomenon may appear to provide us with whatever we want whenever we want it, but its promise is little different from that of any other source of instant gratification: shallow, unfulfilling, and potentially self-destructive. While I'm surely reading into the song some of my own feelings about the internet—mixed blessing that it is—there can be little doubt that I do so at the Pet Shop Boys' prodding invitation. And if I may make a perhaps presumptuous assumption of my own, I'd be willing to bet my feelings on this subject closely match theirs. After all, if I remember correctly, didn't Neil once describe Facebook as "insidious"?


List cross-references