What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

December 16, 2018

I've posted the final results of my survey of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors (in an unusual question that really didn't have anything to do with the Pet Shop Boys) about their degree of interest in "new" music. This week's survey has a seasonal theme, focusing on Christmas songs—specifically original (non-cover) pop Christmas songs of the 1990s. That of course includes the Pet Shop Boys' own 1997 Christmas song "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas." I've drawn upon a list published two years ago by Us Weekly of what they considered the twelve best original Christmas songs of that decade. Since the PSB song isn't included in that list, I've added it for a total of thirteen. From this list I'd like for you to pick the one that you consider the best, or at least your own favorite.

To be sure, since this is a PSB fansite frequented by PSB fans, I fully acknowledge the bias. It's very likely that "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas" will receive the most votes. But that may not prove true. And even if it does, I'm most interested in seeing how many of you don't vote for it, and which other songs receive the largest number of votes. In fact, I'm coming right out and admitting that, as much as I love "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas," it's not my absolute favorite in this list and I'm not voting for it. Now, please don't "humor" me by choosing some song other than "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas" regardless of your true feelings. If the PSB song really is your favorite original Christmas song of the 1990s, then by all means please be honest and choose it! But if it's not your favorite, please choose the one that is instead. Of course, I provide a couple of other options for those of you who feel unable to choose any of the songs listed.

Meanwhile, thanks to much to Eddie Xaviar for letting me know that "West End Girls" is used in the 2018 biographical film Gotti starring John Travolta as the famed New York mobster John Gotti. The song appears just over an hour into the film, appropriately enough in a scene set in the 1980s involving a mob assassination by means of a bomb detonated in a car—doubly apropos (as Eddie pointed out) considering the first line of the song, "Sometimes you're better off dead." I've now noted this in the entry for this song at #1 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and television shows.

I know that a number of my site visitors were able to attend this past Friday evening's special showing of the Boys' 1987 film It Couldn't Happen Here at London's Regent Street Cinema. One of them, Steve N, wrote to inform me that director Jack Bond, who took part in a Q&A with the audience following the film, said that Chris and Neil had wanted to attend but were preoccupied recording new music—presumably their next album—in Berlin. Thanks, Steve, for sharing that very welcome tidbit!

December 15, 2018

I've now decided to "promote" my December 11 observation (see below) about the gratuitous use of "Pet Shop Boys" as an insult on a recent TV show to a more permanent place here on my website by placing it on my page devoted to "Strange But True Incidents Involving the Pet Shop Boys." Since the anecdotes there are listed in chronological order, it appears at the very bottom of that page. As it turns out, I've also added another new "strange but true" entry, this time dating back to 1983, on Neil and Chris's one-time tenure as t-shirt models for Smash Hits magazine—complete with photos, no less!

December 13, 2018

Thanks to Felicity for informing me of two things, one of which triggers an update to another page. That one involves a recent very positive review of Neil's One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem by author and critic Sukhdev Sandhu in which the writer asserts that he's a Pet Shop Boys fan. Therefore his name gets added to my list of celebrity fans of the Boys outside the field of music. The other one was her observation that the design of the 2018 PSB Christmas card mirrors in its particular choice of "album patterns" (though not their arrangement) one of the official t-shirts sold at their concerts this past summer. I had seriously considered stating this fact on my page that describes each of their Christmas cards, but changed my mind when I noticed that I've already written more about that card than any of the others. So I decided against adding this interesting but ultimately somewhat peripheral bit of information. It doesn't stop me from noting it here, however! Thanks again, Felicity!

December 11, 2018

I just saw something worth mentioning, even if it may not fit anywhere else here on my website. (Then again, maybe I will find a permanent place for it.) It was on this evening's new episode of the CW network TV show Supergirl. It's not a show that I commonly watch, but I happened to catch it this time around. The background plot setup is somewhat byzantine, but it involves parallel universes. "Our" universe's Barry Allen (The Flash) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) find themselves in a hostile parallel universe, in which their friend Cisco (Vibe) turns out, in this alternate reality, to be anything but their friend. During a confrontation, Cisco dismissingly refers to Barry and Oliver as "the Pet Shop Boys." Aside from the sheer oddness of the reference on a 2018 show predominantly watched by teenagers and young adults (the target demographic of the CW network), many of whom—at least here in the States—may not at all be familiar with PSB, I'm struck by the likelihood that it was intended as a "politically correct" means of insulting them with a strongly coded gay slur—not that the characters of Barry and Oliver are gay (they're not), but rather that they're being disparaged as if they were in a homophobic manner. I'm not sure how else to interpret it. But even if it weren't intended as a gay slur, it was undoubtedly meant as an insult.

Imagine that: "Pet Shop Boys" used offhandedly as an insult.

At any rate, that's all there was too it—a very strange and unfortunate mention in passing. Maybe this ought to go on my "Strange But True" page. I'll have to mull that over.

December 10, 2018

Thanks so much to Andrew Thomas for letting me know that the Pet Shop Boys' very first Christmas card, from 1986, was apparently distributed in two forms—similar but also very noticeably different. He was kind enough to share an image of the alternate larger, black-and-white version with me, and I'm now sharing it with you on my page devoted to the official PSB Christmas cards.

December 9, 2018

I've posted the final results of last week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors which Pet Shop Boys studio album reissue had the best "Further Listening" bonus disc(s). I have to confess that I for one found the "first-place" outcome quite surprising! My new survey for the week ahead is one of those rare questions that really don't have anything to do with our musical heroes themselves, but instead with the broader tastes and behaviors of you, my site visitors. I'm wondering whether you currently have much interest in or are even quite open to becoming a fan of "new music"—that is, music by artists with whom you're not already quite familiar. I'm eager to see how you collectively compare to me in this regard, although as usual I'll be holding my own vote close to my chest until the end of this poll one week from now.

Thanks to Rich Keough for catching an outright error and a few oversights in my descriptions of the availability of some of the remixes of the track "Inner Sanctum." I've now made the necessary corrections.

Having received his permission to do so, I've added Brian Would's name to my Thank You page in recognition of his letting me know about Colette Meury's involvement as backing singer on "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," as noted on December 1. Thanks again, Brian!

December 8, 2018

Thanks so much to Richard A for alerting me to a possible, even likely error here on my website that is also reflected on the Pet Shop Boys' official site and elsewhere online. Yet there's enough uncertainty about it that I want to approach it with some caution. Here's how it goes—

On my page that lists major awards won by the Boys, I've long included their having received an Ivor Novello Award in 1988 for "It's a Sin" being named "Best International Hit." The Pet Shop Boys' own website as well as several other independent sources assert this award as fact. Yet the official Ivor Awards site states that PSB and "It's a Sin" were nominated for this award, but that the actual winner was Stock, Aitken, and Waterman as the composers of Rick Astley's big hit "Never Gonna Give You Up." I've made note of this serious discrepancy in my list, including the fact that it's not inconceivable for the Ivor Awards site to be in error—their own webmaster may have made a mistake—though I'll readily confess that seems unlikely. Whatever the case, until I learn more for sure one way or another, I'll retain the award in that list, while also acknowledging the uncertainty about it. In the meantime, if anyone reading this can clarify this murky matter, I would greatly appreciate from you!

Shifting gears – Although, as a distinctly "amateur" recording it doesn't belong on my PSB covers page, a terrific new acoustic rendition of "Heart" has been posted to YouTube. What I really like about this performance is that it once again underscores the fundamental excellence of Tennant-Lowe as songwriters, further demonstrating (as if any further demonstration were needed) that, beneath the electronic instrumentation and the studio gloss, lie just plain great songs that readily lend themselves to other musical genres—more than just "synthpop."

December 7, 2018

SPOILER ALERT! – To my page devoted to the Pet Shop Boys' official Christmas cards I've just added their 2018 card, which has now been distributed in e-card format. So if you do NOT yet want to see it (albeit in very low resolution) or read about it, do NOT click on that link and scroll down to the bottom of that page.

Following up on my post yesterday (see just below) about "Opportunities" and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Rob Bainbridge was kind enough to provide the pertinent details about the episode in which the song appears and how it's used. Needless to say, I've made the appropriate update to my "TV" list. Thanks so much, Rob!

December 6, 2018

An online article is reporting that Season 2 of the Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel features "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" at some point, but so far I don't know anything more than that. In the meantime, I've recorded this apparent fact in the entry for that song at #6 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that can be heard in non-musical films and TV shows. As I state there, I'll provide further details once I have them myself.

December 5, 2018

I've added a new item to the final position among my ten favorite magazine covers featuring the Pet Shop Boys. It's really not a "new" image at all, dating back a full five years (the December 2013 cover of the German edition of GQ), but I've only recently discovered it for myself. No, I couldn't resist.

December 2, 1018

I've posted the final results of my survey of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors whether they would like the Pet Shop Boys to record and release another album that, like Bilingual, has a predominant "Latin" musical style or influence. I suspect that wasn't a very difficult choice for most of you. But I'd be willing to bet that most of you will find this week's poll somewhat more challenging. I'm asking you to pick what you consider to be the PSB album reissue that had the best "Further Listening" bonus disc(s). For your convenience, to aid you in making this decision, I've created a new temporary page that lists the contents of each of these discs. Now, I'm leaving the criteria for your choice completely up to you. For instance, you may base your decision solely on the musical quality of the tracks for each set. On the other hand, maybe you would prefer to consider the rarity of those tracks and how hard it might have been to hear or obtain them otherwise. You may think of other criteria as well. Whatever the case, please make your selection based on what matters most to you in determining which is "best."

Thanks so much to Danny Bende for letting me know that the legendary 2002 John Peel radio session with the Pet Shop Boys is now available in its entirety on YouTube. I don't know how long that will continue to be the case, so if you've never heard it—or if you would very much like to hear it again—I suggest doing so at your earliest convenience.

December 1, 2018

I happened upon a most unusual new cover of "Being Boring" by the Indiana-based low-fi/indie cult artist Elephant Micah. Having noted it on my page that lists remakes of Tennant-Lowe songs, I had invited you to listen to it on YouTube—but later I found that it appears to have been taken down and is no longer available. Most curious. We'll see if it resurfaces at some point.

In the meantime, thanks to Jan Bayer for informing me that the 1988 song "Chances" by Roxette deserves a spot in my chronological list of specific songs by well-known artists that are avowedly influenced by the Pet Shop Boys (where, because of its early date, it goes right at the top of the list). The PSB influence is especially noticeable in the released demo version of this track, which is available online.

Thanks as well to Brian Would, who tells me that his personal friend, Swiss-born singer Colette Meury, is apparently an uncredited backup singer on the PSB classic "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," as confirmed on her own website. I've made note of this—including Ms. Meury's reported recollection of a correction by Neil for a mistake she made while singing—as a new second bullet-point annotation to my commentary on that song.

November 30, 2018

There's really no permanent place for it here on my website, but I feel obliged to let you know about one of the strangest Pet Shop Boys "covers" ever—only it's not really a cover (so it doesn't belong on my Tennant-Lowe covers page), but more like karaoke—only it's not really karaoke, either. Let's just say it's unique. And, wouldn't you know it, it's of "It's a Sin." Here's the link to it on YouTube. Enjoy! Wink

November 27, 2018

Thanks to Rob Bainbridge for letting me know that "Absolutely Fabulous" could be heard on the U.K. news show Good Morning Britain this past Thursday, which I've now noted in an update to the pre-existing entry for that song at #45 in my list of Pet Shop Boys tracks used in non-musical films and TV shows.

November 26, 2018

The Pet Shop Boys have announced five dates for the 2019 Asian leg of their Super Tour (which will by then be in its fourth year). I've updated my PSB Tours page to list these dates (March 26 through April 4) and venues (in Singapore, China, Japan, and Thailand). These are the only shows announced at this time; I don't know whether that means those are the only dates, period, on this leg of the tour, or whether additional shows may be announced later on. As they say, time will tell.

Incidentally, the same announcement states that they're planning to release a new album during "the second half of 2019."

November 25, 2018

I've posted the final results of this past week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors to rank the Pet Shop Boys' first five studio albums, considered by many music critics to be their "classic" era. My new survey for the week ahead takes its cue from the very next PSB studio album, their sixth, Bilingual. So far that has been their only album dominated by "Latin" musical styles. One of my regular correspondents, porkchopkid, was wondering whether, after all this time (now more than 20 years), you would like for them to put out another new studio album that's similarly Latin-oriented. Or, if not Latin, would you like for them to devote a future album to some other geographically/culturally based style of music? Or would you prefer for them to avoid such styles, at least for all or most of an album? Thanks so much to porkchopkid for suggesting this most interesting question. I'm eager to discover how you all feel about it!

November 24, 2018

I've now posted my last batch of updated entries based on information drawn from One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem: "Twenty-something," "Up Against It," and "Wiedersehen," as well as a few associated adjustments to my lists of Pet Shop Boys songs with "extra" lyrics and those that contain literary references.

Now and then my weekly polls force me to re-evaluate some of those lists of mine. Such has been the case this week. While placing my own vote in this week's survey, I came to the conclusion that my list of the Pet Shop Boys' studio albums in descending order based on how much I love them needed revision. What has changed are the #6 and #8 positions, with Actually switching places with Please, though with Yes remaining between them at #7. This represents only the latest advance of Actually in this list, which has sporadically risen in my estimation through the years. It has gone from being near the bottom of the list to now being firmly in the upper half. Meanwhile, check back tomorrow for the final results of this survey!

November 21, 2018

Still drawing upon One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem, I've updated my entries for "Silver Age," "So Sorry, I Said," "The Dictator Decides," "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show," "The Sound of the Atom Splitting," "The Survivors," "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave," "To Face the Truth," and a song that's not even included in Neil's book aside from a passing but pertinent mention, "The Only One."

I'm quite busy getting our home ready to host Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so I won't have time to make any further updates today. In fact, I will probably be so busy both tomorrow and Friday with other commitments that I may not be able to do any more updates until Saturday. But since now I'm up to (and nearly done with) the T-titles in Neil's book, there aren't too many more to go. So I suspect the next batch will be the last.

November 20, 2018

Today's minor updates stemming from One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem can be found in my entries for "King of Rome," "Left to My Own Devices," "Legacy," "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct," "Luna Park,""Nothing Has Been Proved," "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin," and "Searching for the Face of Jesus."

November 19, 2018

My second batch of minor updates derived from One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem has now been posted, affecting my entries for "Fugitive," "Happiness Is an Option," "I Didn't Get Where I Am Today," "I Made My Excuses and Left," "Indefinite Leave to Remain," "Invisible," "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing," and "Jack the Lad." Barring unforeseen obstacles, you can expect a third batch tomorrow.

November 18, 2018

I've posted the final results of my survey of the past week in which I asked my site visitors to choose from a selection of Pet Shop Boys collaborations with other artists that they haven't yet performed on tour the one they would most like to hear live. This week's poll is inspired by recent articles I've read online by various music critics that seem to identify a "PSB golden age" encompassing their first five studio albums, those from Please to Very. This made me wonder, taking that "golden age" definition as a core assumption (an admittedly debatable point—although this definition does embrace while extending beyond what the Boys themselves have described as their "imperial phase"), how you, my site visitors, would rank just those five albums in comparison with each other. In other words, which would you rank #1, their very best, down to #5, the comparatively "weakest" of the batch? Please keep in mind, however, that I don't consider any of these albums "weak" by any means. On the contrary, they're all superb! And I'm confident that most if not almost all of you would agree! But in any such group, some virtually have to be stronger than others. So how would you rank them? I'm eager to see how this turns out!

As stated in my entry yesterday, I've started making assorted minor updates based on information from Neil's book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. So far I've made such minor adjustments for "After the Event," "Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend," "Birthday Boy," "Call Me Old-Fashioned," "Casanova in Hell," "Decadence," "Do I Have To?" and "Everything Means Something" as well as a couple of the lists in which some of those songs appear (including newly adding "Decadence" to my list of Pet Shop Boys songs with literary references). Because of the nature and extent of these revisions, however, I won't be detailing or "previewing" most of them here aside from simply mentioning the affected entries. More to come in the days ahead!