What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

March 29, 2020

I've launched a new poll for the week ahead, in which I'm asking you to rank all three albums of the Pet Shop Boys' "Stuart Price trilogy": Electric, Super, and Hotspot. In other words, please choose the one that you think is the best, the one "in the middle," and the one that is weakest. As I note on my home page, this doesn't mean you don't like or even love the "weakest" one; it's just that you don't think it's quite as good as the other two. For instance, I love all three of them—but I definitely have my favorite and least-favorite among them. Also please note that, although this survey will allow you to submit your vote without ranking all three, your vote will not be counted unless you do rank all three. So if you're not familiar with all three and feel unable to rank them all, I'm afraid this poll is not for you.

March 28, 2020

Several site visitors have written to me about some recent takeoffs on the cover of Actually inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Pet Shop Boys themselves have taken note of one of them on their official website. I'm reproducing here the two that I'm aware of. I've now cited them on my page devoted to the iconic status of that album cover. And, if you're not doing so already, I hope you'll take their important message to heart. (Please note that the "social distancing" image on the right is borrowed from the 6 Feet Covers website, which presents similar takeoffs on a number of classic album covers. Check it out!)

Site visitor Andy B has suggested that "Will-o-the-wisp" might contain a mild, playful dig at the band U2, whom the Pet Shop Boys (in)famously covered with "Where the Streets Have No Name" back in 1991. I've noted this theory in a new bullet-point annotation to my commentary on the more recent song. Thanks, Andy!

March 25, 2020

As many if not most of us hunker down during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're seeing that our musical heroes are doing so as well. Neil posted a surprising, sudsy, unshaven "at-home" photo of himself on the official Pet Shop Boys website the other day, and now Chris has shared on Facebook and Instagram a delightful video, more than 13 minutes in length, in which he performs an instrumental solo rendition of "It's Alright" with smatterings of what appears to be some improv that at times gets rather jazzy. (He calls it "Noodling on the piano." By the way, thanks to porkchopkid for telling me about Chris's video!) It's great to know that the two of them are doing what they can to stay at home, safe and healthy, while also encouraging and supporting us in doing the same.

As for George and me, we're also self-isolating, venturing out only for weekly groceries, occasional visits to the pharmacy and doctor (whom George, on account of his condition, must visit every two weeks), and walks around the neighborhood, always of course doing our best to maintain proper social distance from others.

I hope you all are able to stay happy and healthy during this challenging time!

On an altogether separate note, for the first time in quite a long while, I've found a new published novel that mentions the Pet Shop Boys by name—not just once, but twice. It's the 2019 novel Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by U.S. author Andrea Lawlor. I've now added it to my chronological list of such novels.

March 24, 2020

Hotspot was released two months ago today. I believe, therefore, it's high time to begin considering a question that several of my site visitors have suggested but which, to be honest, I was already planning before I received any such input—namely, which of the Pet Shop Boys' three studio albums of their "Stuart Price trilogy" is the "best," or at least the fan favorite? So I expect to begin a new poll asking this very question this coming Sunday, March 29. In fact, I won't merely be asking which of the three is your favorite (or "the best") but rather how you would rank the three of them: #1, #2, and #3. I'm giving you this advance notice so that you can be mulling this matter over for the next few days. Please stay tuned!

Meanwhile, thanks to Patrick Bateman for letting me know that this past Sunday's episode of Desert Island Discs included guest Dame Helena Morrissey's choice of "Being Boring." I've noted this in my list of celebrities who have picked PSB tracks on Desert Island Discs, and I've added Dame Helena to my list of celebrity fans of the Boys outside the field of music. (She stated on the show that both she and her husband are indeed fans.)

I've also just noticed an oversight: not yet including the Pet Shop Boys' three most recent singles ("Dreamland," "Burning the Heather," and "Monkey Business") in my breakdown of how PSB singles differ (if at all) from the album versions. That oversight is now rectified. (Of course the next single, "I Don't Wanna," will need to be added as well once it's released next month, but we don't know at this time how it will differ from the album rendition.)

March 22, 2020

Thanks so much to Eddie Xavier for confirming that, although "It's a Sin" could be heard in trails and commercials for the recent film Greed (which accounts for the song's appearance at #11 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that have been used in TV commercials), it does not appear in the film itself. So Greed doesn't appear in the entry for that song in my list of PSB songs that have been used in films and "non-musical" TV shows—even though "It's a Sin" has long held a spot in that list (at #21) by virtue of many other such occurrences.

Several people have written to me this morning about a terrific article on the BBC News website concerning the newly reissued Chris Heath books Pet Shop Boys, Literally and Pet Shop Boys vs America. Thanks to you all for letting me know about it!

March 21, 2020

Thanks to Jim Crownover for noticing and reporting some outdated text related to the album Nightlife in my "Fun with grammar" list. I've now reworded it to bring it up to date.

Thanks as well to Danny Edmunds for sharing his intriguing observation that the central character (other than the narrator himself) in "Will-o-the-wisp" might be the same person—many years later, all grown up—whom Neil's lyrical persona was addressing in the 1993 Pet Shop Boys track "Young Offender." After all, they both apparently have (or, in the case of the more recent song, had) a penchant for hanging around arcades. I've noted this in both an expansion on my pre-existing final bullet-point annotation to my commentary on "Will-o-the-wisp" and in a brand new annotation to "Young Offender."

March 20, 2020

I've taken time to deal with several scattered, previously overlooked "Hotspot updates," including:

I've also made various other minor adjustments here and there, too numerous and too minor to bother delineating.

March 19, 2020

Following up on my revision yesterday about the "Ultimate Mix" and "Radio Mix" of "Together," I received an extremely helpful email from Paul Atkin, who cited a quotation by Neil from Issue 36 of the Pet Shop Boys' erstwhile fan-club publication Literally that, I believe, definitively clarifies the matter of which of those two mixes actually has the "less aggressive" keyboard riff. So I've once again updated my "Mixes/Versions" entry for that song, which I trust will put this matter to rest once and for all. Thanks so much, Paul!

March 18, 2020

Thanks to Matteo for raising a question about whether it's the "Ultimate Mix" or the "Radio Mix" of the 2010 single "Together" that has, as Neil described it at the time, the "less aggressive keyboard riff." This seems a matter of some uncertainty, which I've tried to clarify as best I can in a revision to my brief discussion of this subject in the "Mixes/Versions" section of my entry for this song.

We've now learned of the first—but, unfortunately, almost certainly not the last—cancellation of a date on the Pet Shop Boys' 2020 concert schedule on account of the COVID-19 pandemic: their late June appearance at Glastonbury. In fact, the entire 2020 Glastonbury Festival has been canceled. I've noted this on my PSB Tours page, where I will indicate COVID-19 cancellations with struck-through text.

March 16, 2020

Thanks so much to Frode Dahl for offering several suggestions, two of which I've decided to incorporate into my website. First, he pointed out that, while the Pet Shop Boys most often credit their songwriting partnership as "Tennant/Lowe," on Relentless they specifically list Chris's name first in its liner notes. So I've changed the songwriting credits for each of that album's songs from "Tennant/Lowe" to "Lowe/Tennant." Second, in response to my longstanding open speculation as to why Neil's lead vocal on "Delusions of Grandeur" is so buried in the mix, Frode suggested that it may be designed to convey a sense of emptiness, hollowness, and/or distance, which I've elaborated on in an expansion of the final paragraph of the main body of my commentary on that song. Thanks again, Frode!

As I mentioned here a few weeks back, I've been wanting to add several of the more recent tracks to my list of my personal favorite PSB songs. Yet I couldn't bear to drop any songs from that list of 25 to make room for the "new" ones. So I've decided to expand the list from 25 to 30. Thus, I've made that update, adding two songs from Super, one each from Electric and Hotspot, and, in a "reach-back" to a much older album, one more from Behaviour. So if you're interested, please now check out my list of my 30 favorite Pet Shop Boys songs, period .

March 15, 2020

I've posted the final results of this past week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to rate the Pet Shop Boys' music videos for "On Social Media," "Dreamland," and "Monkey Business." I've also updated my PSB music videos page to provide the star-ratings for these three videos that I've derived from these voter ratings using the formula described at the top of the page. For several reasons I won't go into, I've decided against running a new poll this week. Still smarting from the unfortunate "poll hacking" experience of late January, I'm not yet committed to resuming my surveys on a regular basis. But if and when I do decide to run a new poll (which is quite likely—I'm just not sure when), I'll of course let you all know.

Meanwhile, thanks to Dave F. for providing evidence that the "preferred" title for a certain unreleased Tennant-Lowe song is "I'm Keeping My Fingers Crossed," which I'm now employing in my list devoted to such unreleased tracks.

March 13, 2020

It was announced yesterday that the Pet Shop Boys are on the schedule for this year's 50th anniversary Glastonbury Festival. Although the precise date in late June has yet to be determined, I've added this event to my PSB Tours page. I'll of course update it with the correct date once that is announced as well.

March 12, 2020

Thanks to Nigel Brand for calling my attention to a couple of facts that have led me to make a few adjustments to my recent "In Memoriam" entry for the late Tom Watkins. This includes changing his photo; I had mistakenly used the image of a different "Tom Watkins." Error now corrected!

March 10, 2020

Thanks so much to Steve N. for informing me of a recent interview with Neil on Radio Wales in which he mentioned a previously undiscerned politico-economic backdrop to "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"—one line in particular. I discuss this in a new second bullet-point annotation to my main commentary on the song.

Although it had already been "unofficially" announced, today the Pet Shop Boys formally announced the fourth Hotspot single, "I Don't Wanna," slated for release in late April with several remixes and the long-awaited previously unreleased song "New Boy." I've made a number of pertinent updates, including the addition of David Jackson and Mano Le Tough (both tapped to remix the new single) to my "PSB Remixers" page.

I've also just learned of the February 24 death (not announced to the general public until today) of the Pet Shop Boys' first manager, Tom Watkins. In light of his very considerable role in their early success, it's only fitting that I now add him to my "In Memoriam" page. Neil has also memorialized him in a new post on the official PSB website.

March 9, 2020

Based on a "Pet Text" posted by Neil today on the Pet Shop Boys' official website, I've added two titles, "Don't Ask Me" and "Looking for Love," to my list of unreleased Tennant-Lowe songs. I've also made a few corresponding updates to my page that lists early tracks that the Boys recorded with Ray Roberts and Bobby 'O'.

March 8, 2020

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors to rate the songs of Hotspot (aside from the previously rated "Dreamland") as well as several recent b-sides. I've also updated my "Rating Project" page to include these latest ratings. As it so happens, I'm running another poll this week, this time asking you to rate the Pet Shop Boys' three most recent music videos. I don't include several comparatively recent static, uninteresting lyric videos, although I do include the two more interesting, imaginative recent lyric vids as well as the "full-fledged" music video for "Monkey Business."

March 7, 2020

Thanks to Kfos for offering several suggestions, two of which I've decided to make use of: (1) a new annotation for "One Thing Leads to Another" to state that it may (emphasis on may) have been at least partly inspired, consciously or unconsciously, by the case of Teddy Pendergrass being seriously injured in a 1982 automobile accident in which his passenger was a transgender woman; and (2) an expansion of my "mini-entry" for the soon-to-be-rereleased It Couldn't Happen Here to cite a brief but interesting bit of censorship in the film.

March 2, 2020

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for letting me know that he spoke to both Chris and Neil at yesterday's final performance (at least for the time being) of Musik at London's Leicester Square Theatre. During his brief chat with Neil, he learned that the fourth and final single from Hotspot will be "I Don't Wanna," for which a single edit has already been made. Thanks again for this scoop, Andrew!

March 1, 2020

As promised several days ago, I'm launching a new Rating Project survey for the songs of Hotspot (minus "Dreamland," which was rated in my previous ratings poll, the results of which can be found on my Rating Project page) and its associated single b-sides to date. To be honest, I haven't yet decided whether I'll be running this survey for just one week or two. I guess that will depend on how many early voters there are. I'll decide by mid-week. In the meantime, I hope you'll go ahead and make your rating choices at your earliest convenience. Thanks!