All or Nothing
by Miyuki Motegi

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/Motegi
First released - 2002
Original album - MIU (Miyuki Motegi)
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

This track appears on MIU, the 2002 debut album by Japanese singer Miyuki Motegi, whom the Boys didn't meet until several months after she had recorded and released this song. The music was written by Neil and Chris, but Neil had provided only tentative, incomplete lyrics. The original title had been "Diddly Squat"—an idiomatic expression meaning "little or nothing." ("Diddly Squat" remained unreleased until March 2021, when it would be released as such by Misha Singer.) Motegi, who often goes by her nickname Miu, wrote brand new lyrics in Japanese—although at one point the English line "Happy birthday to you" pops up mid-sentence. A new song, "All or Nothing," was born.

The production is closely derived from the Pet Shop Boys' demo, which they offered to Motegi upon the suggestion of a friend of theirs who works for Toshiba EMI. Neil's background vocal on the track, repeatedly singing the English line "And there she goes," also comes from the demo, as does a pretty wild synthesizer solo by Chris. In general, the music is infectious—surprisingly hard-rocking dance-pop.

Motegi's lyrics, when translated into English, suggest either a lesbian relationship or a male point of view—the latter not especially unusual since Neil himself has professed to write and sing lyrics written from the perspective of the opposite sex, as in the case of "Rent." Then again, the story told by the lyrics is rather unusual in and of itself. She sings of taking her "dream girl" out to dinner and buying her a birthday present, only to be confronted by another girl—a "strange girl" with whom s/he had apparently spent the previous night—who thereby causes a fatal rift in the narrator's primary relationship. Very odd, indeed. Even odder is the fact that it would seem that the title "All or Nothing" appears nowhere in the song, even with a liberal translation. The only likely connection of the story to the meaning of the title would be that the "dream girl" breaks up with the narrator because she wasn't his/her "all." Therefore she'll be "nothing" to him/her.

I've read a rough translation of brief commentary that Motegi herself has made concerning this song. Assuming that this translation is interpreting her words correctly, she "sympathizes" with what she regards as the Pet Shop Boys' "cynical worldview," but had some difficulty expressing it through a lyrical persona. She therefore tried to get that cynicism across through "simple scene description." Based on the aforementioned translation of the lyrics, I would say that she has succeeded admirably.

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