What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

March 30, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys continue to add dates to the 2017 leg of their Super Tour. Today they announced on their official website performances on July 3 at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival—which ever since the 1970s has welcomed artists well outside the field of "jazz"—and on July 22 in Turku, Finland. Naturally, I've updated my PSB tours page.

Speaking of my tours page, I've been asked how come I don't list there the Boys' benefit concert this Sunday at London's Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and special guest Johnny Marr. I don't list it there for the same reason I don't list other "one-off," "non-tour" shows. Although it does come during a break in the on-again, off-again Super Tour, it's quite clear that this is a very special "non-Super Tour" show, which will undoubtedly have its own unique setlist designed to take full advantage of both Marr and the orchestra. So I don't list it. That's all. And if I'm proven wrong and it turns out to be much more like than unlike the Super Tour shows, I'll simply change my mind and list it. I can do that, you know. wink

March 29, 2017

As I did at this time last week, I'm taking this opportunity to offer a mid-week report on the status of the current results for my survey this week. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the results so far are closely mirroring last week's results—except that most of the average album ratings (currently with just three exceptions) are trending a bit lower than they did last week. That actually surprises me somewhat. But I'm certainly not complaining. I like being surprised. It makes life so much more interesting. wink There have, however, been more than fifty fewer voters than at this time last week, which suggests to me that many may be "turned off" by such a similar poll following in the wake of last week's. It will be interesting to see whether the final tally of voters indeed ends up being significantly lower than for the previous survey. That may prove an important lesson for me.

March 28, 2017

Today the Pet Shop Boys' official website confirmed the September 5 Dublin show that I "leaked" here yesterday, and announced yet another new concert date: July 18 in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, they also noted that the organizers of the "Festival on the Wall" near Newcastle, at which the Boys were scheduled to perform on August 4, have canceled the entire event. So I've accordingly updated my PSB tours page with these adjustments.

March 27, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys announced today on their official website that they will be performing in Tel Aviv on June 10. I've made this update to my PSB tours page. And although it hasn't yet (as I write this) been confirmed by their website, at least a half-dozen other seemingly reputable sites are reporting that they have also signed on to perform in Dublin on September 5. I've made that at least tentative update to my tours page as well.

March 26, 2017

I've posted the final results of this past week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors assign a 0-5 star rating to each Pet Shop Boys album based on how they compare with each other. This week's poll is the promised "Part 2," in which I'm asking you once again to rate each PSB album, only this time in comparison to all of albums you're familiar with, regardless of the artists. And once again I've provided what I hope will prove a useful set of suggested guidelines. It will be interesting to see, however, whether the ratings tend to go up compared to last week's results since, after all, the vast majority of my site visitors are dedicated PSB fans, or whether they tend to go down because of the "competition" offered by so many other artists and albums.

By the way, once these surveys are all done, I plan on posting the averages and modes (pluralities) on my main page for each of the rated albums.

March 25, 2017

Thanks so much to a newer site visitor, Ian Innes, for sharing his very detailed observations about "King's Cross" largely based on Derek Jarman's video for the song. They expand somewhat on the possible "gay cruising" interpretation of the lyrics that I had already touched upon in my commentary. I've noted some of Ian's insights in a new bullet-point annotation. And, in recognition, I've added Ian's name to my Thank You page.

March 23, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that they will be performing two Super Tour concerts in Sweden (in Rättvik and Östersundon) on July 27 and 28. I've updated my PSB tours page with this information.

March 22, 2017

Since the nature and technology of my poll this week prevents me from providing the usual real-time current results, I figured I would take a traditional page from the BBC record charts and offer some "mid-weeks." For fear of unduly influencing the outcome, I won't identify any specific albums, but I will say that, so far, star-ratings have been provided by a little more than 250 voters. Three Pet Shop Boys albums are enjoying mode (plurality) ratings of 5 stars, while four of them—those three plus one other—have average ratings (allowing fractional figures) above 4. And one album is in "bomb mode," thus far with a plurality rating of zero.

Taking all of the albums into account, the single most frequent rating is 3, which means "average." I believe that speaks quite well of the validity, so to speak, of these ratings. That is, one would fully expect "average" to be the single most common rating in a relatively unbiased poll. So this tells me that, yes, most of you, despite being dedicated PSB fans, are approaching this survey in a very thoughtful and generally objective manner. Bravo!

March 19, 2017

I've posted the final results of my poll this past week, in which I asked my site visitors to choose their favorite character portrayed by Neil (other than himself) in the lyrics of the Pet Shop Boys' songs. My new survey for the week ahead is the first of two parts (more about the second part in a moment), and it's something that I'm amazed I've never done up to this point. I'm asking you to assign ratings of from zero to five stars to most of the Pet Shop Boys' albums (those aside from hits collections and releases in which someone aside from themselves is the primary performing artist for most if not all of the songs) based on how they compare to each other—that is, just to other PSB albums. In fact, because you'll be comparing them only to each other, it's inevitable that some will receive higher ratings than others—in fact, I believe that some should receive quite low ratings, whereas others should of course be rated quite high. (It's next week's poll where you'll be able to assign star-ratings to these same albums based on pop music releases in general by any artist.) If you would like some suggestions on how to determine your ratings, I've provided what I hope will be a helpful set of guidelines. Thanks so much to Andrew J. Smith for suggesting this survey!

By the way, I hope you like how the stars (and bomb) in this survey work. It took me hours to get them to work correctly, and I've only been able to test and verify their functionality on Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. I'd love to test it on Firefox as well, but for some reason I simply haven't been able to figure out, I can't get Firefox to work on my computer. Whatever the case, I certainly hope it works on your browser. If not, however, please feel free to send me an email with your ow album-by-album 0- to 5-star ratings.

And I shouldn't let the day go by without acknowledging the passing yesterday of a true rock and roll pioneer and genuine legend, Chuck Berry, at the age of 90. While his specific style of music really wasn't much to my liking (personally I don't care much for fifties rock'n'roll), his tremendous importance as one of the founding fathers of rock cannot be denied. What's more, he wrote some terrific songs, at times displaying a simple, rustic poeticism that an old lyric-hound like me can't help but marvel at. My favorite Berry compositions, as much from a lyrical as a musical perspective, are "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis" ("Last time I saw Marie she was waving me goodbye / With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye" is an absolutely delightful couplet), and "You Never Can Tell (C'est La Vie)." But let's just say, shall we, that his biggest chart hit—his 1972 cover of Dave Bartholomew's "My Ding-a-Ling," recorded live in Coventry, England—is best overlooked.

March 18, 2017

I've updated my Pet Shop Boys Tours page with the news, just announced on the official PSB website, that they will be bringing their Super Tour show to the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro on September 15.

Thanks to Erik H. for letting me know that the "Undertow" EP has now been posted on iTunes—although it doesn't appear to be available for downloading yet, at least not by me. But it states there the lengths of its tracks. So I've updated my entries for that song, "Burn," and "Left to My Own Devices" with the corresponding track-length data. (It's worth noting that the Baba Stiltz remix of "Burn" comes in at 10:19. At first I thought it might qualify for inclusion in my list of the ten longest commercially released "official" PSB remixes, but it turns out that it falls short.)

March 15, 2017

Using information posted today on the Pet Shop Boys' website, I've made a few very minor "mixes" updates for "Burn," "Undertow," and "Left to My Own Devices."

What may be of more interest is that I've also noted on my PSB covers page a new (and yet another) remake of "It's a Sin," this time by transgender activist, author, blogger, and musican Christi Brekke. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available on YouTube. Though its metal stylings aren't to my personal tastes, I have to say that it's actually pretty good. It's just that—and if you're a long-time site visitor, you already know this—I've grown so tired of "Sin" being the go-to song for people covering the Boys.

March 14, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys announced today on their official website that they will be performing at the Teatro Real in Madrid on July 10. I've now updated my PSB Tours page with this information.

March 13, 2017

Seeing as how Very is my all-time favorite Pet Shop Boys album (and one of my five favorite albums of all time by any artist), I'm thrilled that an Australian podcast from February 2017 (click the link if you would like to listen to it), which takes an in-depth look at that album from a gay perspective, mentions me and my website on several occasions, and even directly quotes me at one point regarding the song "Liberation." I've noted this on my "I've Been Cited!" page. And I extend my heartfelt thanks to Richard for producing that delightful podcast and for citing me.

March 12, 2017

I've posted the final results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to pick their three favorite non-single studio-rendition covers by the Pet Shop Boys of other artists' songs. This week's poll is another of my occasional questions derived from one of my PSB lists, in this case what I consider Neil's most memorable lyrical personae. I'm wondering which of these is your own favorite character—aside from himself—portrayed by Neil in a Pet Shop Boys song. Or perhaps none of them are, in which case you can select the usual "none of the above" option and designate your own choice.

Thanks to Jeff Durst for alerting me to a previously overlooked but nonetheless excellent candidate for inclusion in my list of songs in which Chris's voice (or at least a "vocoderized" treatment of his voice) can be heard: the PSB Maxi-Mix of Madonna's "Sorry." I've now added it as a "maybe" case at the end of that list.

Thanks also to Mark B for reminding me that I had neglected to update the U.K. singles chart status of "Say It to Me" on my main page for that song. (It didn't make it at all onto the overall singles chart, but it did hit #1 for physical sales, which only underscores what a small component physical sales are now for overall chart performance.) That oversight is now corrected.

March 11, 2017

Thanks to long-time site visitor Steve N. for sharing his observation that the lyrics to "Falling" readily lend themselves to a gay/bisexual interpretation, particularly when sung by a male narrator. I had previously noted the bisexual connotations of one line in particular ("Tell me now you regret her"), but Steve has noticed a few other lines that strengthen the argument. So I've made note of this point in a new annotation to my commentary on the song.

Back on March 1, I posted a query here to ask whether anyone knew anything about the reported use of a brief excerpt from the Pet Shop Boys song "Betrayed" in a spot for the "adult" TV channel Miami TV. So far I haven't heard from anyone about it, but I've decided to go ahead and include that song at #7 in my list of PSB songs that have been used in TV commercials—making sure to include, for legal reasons, a disclaimer about it being an alleged use of the song. Thanks again to the regular site visitor who first contacted me about it (and who, under the circumstances, has asked to remain anonymous).

March 9, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that they will be appearing in concert on August 12 in Zadar, Croatia. I've added this date to my PSB Tours page.

March 8, 2017

A follow-up to yesterday's post – Having slept on the matter, I've decided that the Pound Shop Boys deserve a spot at #44 in my list of performance parodies of the Pet Shop Boys. In fact, based on what I've recently learned through both online research and a very helpful email from site visitor Peter L, I'm beginning to suspect that the Pound Shop Boys are what I would describe as a high-concept parody: performance art with an ongoing multi-layered concept. (Perhaps the most famous high-concept parody act in pop music history is Dread Zeppelin, a band that originally performed nothing but Led Zeppelin songs in a reggae style sung by an overweight Elvis impersonator.) The first Pound Shop Boys single, "Fireman Sam (It's Pontypandemonium)," is based on the theme song of a U.K. animated children's TV show, Fireman Sam, set in the fictional Welsh town of Pontypandy—hence the song's subtitle and "Pandemonium" connection. And the Pound Shop Boys' reported upcoming album is titled Pound Shop Boys, Nostalgia, which leads me to suspect that it will consist of tracks similarly derived from television shows and/or other pop-culture artifacts. If it turns out I'm right about that, then the Pound Shop Boys' "high concept" would be just that: to perform TV themes and the like in a decidedly "Pet Shop Boys style." Of course, only time will tell if I am indeed right about that. In the meantime, thanks so much to Peter L. for providing valuable information about Fireman Sam.

March 7, 2017

I'm not quite sure what to make of something I've just discovered thanks to a mention and link in the Pet Shop Boys Community Forum. It's a YouTube video for a new single titled "Fireman Sam (It's Pontypandemonium)" as well as the Facebook page by its performers, who call themselves the Pound Shop Boys, declaring that they're "Lancashire's premier synth duo." They're not actually a PSB tribute band or a cover band, although they do seem to inhabit a strange region that simultaneously flirts with tribute, worship, parody, and outright comedy. (OK, it more than "flirts" with both tribute and parody.) And, for all of its undoubtedly fully intentional silliness, I find the single insidiously catchy. It also includes a very prominent nod to our musical heroes' own "Pandemonium"—not a sample per se, but a definite tip of the hat. At any rate, I'm not yet sure where all this belongs on my website, so I'll start here on my "What's New?" page and perhaps include it elsewhere after mulling it over a while.

March 6, 2017

I've created a "placeholder" page for the still unreleased song "Dreamland," which the Pet Shop Boys have co-written with Olly Alexander of the band Years & Years. No definite word yet on when it will see the light of day, although it's tentatively slated for the next Years & Years album.

Thanks to John McFadden for letting me know that "Say It to Me" could once again be heard on this evening's episode of the U.K. soap opera Emmerdale—the fourth time to date! I've noted this in an updated entry for that track at #79 in my list of PSB songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

March 5, 2017

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors to what extent they believe Neil's Roman Catholic background has been a theme of and/or influence on the Pet Shop Boys' songs. My new survey for the week ahead asks you choose your three favorite PSB cover songs (that is, songs originally recorded by other artists) that have been officially released in studio versions but have not served as single "a-sides." In case you're wondering why I've added those assorted limitations, it's not only to restrict the choices to a more easily manageable number that are more likely to be familiar to most if not all voters but also (to be honest) to make it more interesting. I mean, if I were to include popular single a-sides like "Always on My Mind" and "Go West" among the choices, is there any doubt that they would come out on top? This way, the poll outcome is much less predictable. Besides, the underdogs have a fighting chance. And as I've said before, I have a thing for underdogs.

Thanks to Neil of St. Louis for pointing out some faulty monetary conversions, now corrected, in my update yesterday regarding the Introspective Radio Edits promo.

March 4, 2017

Thanks to John Hunt for alerting me to something I was vaguely aware of but had consigned to the far recesses of my memory. Allow me to explain. I've long listed here on my site among the mixes for each of the songs on Introspective "radio edits" that were officially available only on a very rare white-label vinyl promo release by EMI America. Yesterday John wrote to ask me about the authenticity of a copy of this release that someone else had written about online. After conducting some online research, I was able to tell him that, on account of its much more elaborate packaging, it appears to me to be a bootleg of the original promo. Meanwhile, during the course of that research, I found a reference to the authentic item as "the Holy Grail of PSB collecting." Well, with a description like that, I could hardly ignore it! So, after thinking about it overnight, I've decided to add this promo, Introspective Radio Edits, to my page devoted to selected special releases. Thanks again, John!

March 2, 2017

Thanks so much to Steve N. for calling my attention to the fact that a couplet in "Later Tonight" makes use of a fishing metaphor that was subtle enough to have escaped me altogether. I've now made note of this marvelous figurative language in a new first bullet-point annotation to my commentary on the song.

March 1, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys announced today on their official website that their Paris concert has been rescheduled for June 5. They also noted that they would be performing at the Brighton Pride Summer of Love Festival on August 5. Needless to say, I've once again updated my PSB Tours page to include these new tour dates.

One of my regular site visitors, who has asked in this case to remain anonymous, informed me that he happened upon what apparently is the use of the instrumental opening of the PSB song "Betrayed" as background music during a promo/teaser for the "adult" TV channel Miami TV. I haven't seen it msyelf, nor have I been able to learn anything more about it through online research. But I'm wondering whether it deserves inclusion in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that have been used in TV commercials. (It has apparently aired on cable and satellite television.) I'm mulling it over. But, in the meantime, if any of you happen to know anything more about it—for instance, if you've seen this PSB-employing advertisement for the Miami TV channel as well—please let me know.