Diddly SquatDiddly Squat
by Misha Singer

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/Gobin/Wagner
First released - 2021
Original album - (none at this time)
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

"Diddly Squat" was the original name of the song that the Pet Shop Boys gave to Japanese singer Miyuki Motegi back in 2002, which, with new lyrics in Japanese, she released as "All or Nothing." The original song, however, with its older title remained unreleased until March 2021, when the Czech-born, German-based vocalist Misha Singer released it as a single.

The co-writers listed with Neil and Chris on this song are the track's producers, Steve Gobin and Markus Wagner. Their songwriting contribution were to write most of the English lyrics atop the Pet Shop Boys' music. The only words that the Boys provided were the repeated line "And there she goes."

I'm deeply honored that, according to Gobin, I played a small role in the genesis of this track. As Gobin himself has said on Facebook, "I wanted to release something [by the Pet Shop Boys] but didn't want to just make a cover. I got the idea of releasing 'Diddly Squat' after reading Wayne's article about it," apparently referring to my references to it in my commentary on the aforementioned "All or Nothing" and/or in my list of unreleased songs written by the Boys—where, since it's now released, it's no longer listed.

As Gobin went on to explain—

"When I contacted Kobalt and applied for the authorization to release the English version…, they sent me a demo with Neil humming the melody. The only lyrics that were on the demo were the 'And there she goes' lines. Markus and I wrote all the English lyrics apart from these lines. We had the track recorded by Misha, [and] then arranged by James Blair (aka Project K), who also sings the 'And there she goes' lines, and PSB approved the song."

He notes that they've created four versions: the single, an extended mix, and electro dub, and an instrumental.

Since what the Boys provided to Gobin was a primarily instrumental demo with no lyrics aside from a single line—which didn't include the words "diddly squat"—it's obvious that their title was originally a throwaway "placeholder" that was never intended for ultimate release. (My guess is that Chris came up with it.) As it turns out, it doesn't seem that the new lyrics written by Gobin and Wagner actually employ the words "diddly squat"—which would make it one of those songs in which the title never turns up in the lyrics—although many of the lines are challenging to understand and I may so far have "missed" it. (I hope I can become more sure about this shortly.) In the meantime, the new lyrical "storyline," as it were, concerns the narrator being at a restaurant with her boyfriend, celebrating his birthday—his first since the start of their relationship—sharing "this special moment," when she notices nearby "a strange girl" eyeing them. Although the boyfriend tries to ignore her, this other girl becomes increasingly persistent in her attentions. To make a long story short, the narrator figures out that her boyfriend is also involved with this other girl. Our heroine throws her drink in his face and storms out of the restaurant.

This narrative closely parallels that of the "Japanese version" of this song, "All or Nothing." (Note the use of the phrase "Happy birthday to you" in both tracks.) The new English lyrics, however, are apparently not a direct translation from the Japanese. Rather, the lyricists, Gobin and Wagner, appear to have taken the basic story that I had outlined in my commentary on "All or Nothing" (since Gobin has indicated that he had read about it there) and composed their own new lyrics to describe a similar situation. If I should learn anything more specific and/or detailed and interesting about these lyrics, I'll be sure to provide more information here.

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