What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

May 26, 2019

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for sharing with me a couple observations with regard to my update a few days ago (see May 23 below) of my entry for "Physical Jerks." First, he noted that the title is also a very likely pun on the personalities of Karl and his cronies—that they are indeed "jerks." I've actually long thought this myself, and I'm somewhat surprised I hadn't "spelled it out" in my commentary. Oversight now rectified! Second, he provided evidence that the term "physical jerks" actually predates George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by at least two decades. The evidence he cites is compelling enough for me to include a pertinent footnote in my commentary on that track. But, as I note there, even if the phrase does predate Nineteen Eighty-Four, it doesn't dismiss the likelihood that Orwell's novel nevertheless provides a literary underpinning for its use in The Most Incredible Thing.

The Pet Shop Boys' official website noted yesterday that the U.K. Official Charts Company has listed them at #20 among the most successful singles artists in U.K. rock/pop history. It's a noteworthy achievement, to be sure. But when you examine the list itself, you can't help but notice a few problems. Those who compiled that list appear to have been—there's no delicate way to put this—somewhat incompetent.

Take a look at the numbering of the list. From #1, Elvis Presley, to #7, Eminem, no problem. Then there's a two-way tie at #8 with Robbie Williams and Elton John. Again, all is well. But then you notice Rihanna at #9. That's not how such lists should work. When there's a tie in such a list, one is supposed to skip a number. So Rihanna should be #10 rather than #9 because there are nine artists ahead of her in the list. Look a little farther down, after the Beatles at #10 (should be #11) and you see Rod Stewart and Calvin Harris tied at #11. Next are Westlife, David Bowie, and Queen all tied at #12. But then things really go awry. Mariah Carey is listed at #15. No #13 or #14. In other words, the list-compilers only at that point begin the skip-the-numbers thing. They can't even maintain the consistency of their initial error! Instead they ludicrously apply one "rule" (as flawed as it is) for the first half of the list, and then apply a different rule (the right one) for the second half.

I could excuse them if they had maintained consistency; it would mean that we simply disagree about the "rules." But they don't maintain consistency. They're just sloppy. And I can understand somebody making mistakes like this in originally putting the list together. But you'd think somebody would catch and fix them before publishing it online. I mean, heaven knows, I make and publish mistakes all the time. But I'm just little ol' me doing this as a hobby. The Official Charts Company—I repeat, Official Charts Company—is a friggin' business with paid employees and all!

To summarize, Pet Shop Boys should actually be #22 in that list (tied at that position with two others, Status Quo and Ed Sheeran) because there are 21 artists ahead of them. That's not to detract from their achievement in any way. It's merely to get it right.

May 24, 2019

Thanks to the Rev. Christopher Rodkey for noticing and letting me know that the opening lines of "The Loving Kind" and the earlier song "Love Pains" (not written by the Pet Shop Boys but produced by them for Liza Minnelli) are very nearly identical—a most intriguing observation. Accident or homage? Whatever the case, I've made note of it in a new bullet-point annotation to my commentary on "The Loving Kind."

May 23, 2019

It took this evening's episode of Jeopardy! to supply me with a new item in my list of Pet Shop Boys tracks with literary references. There, way down at #59, you'll find "Physical Jerks" from their ballet The Most Incredible Thing. You see, although I've read certain works by the great British writer George Orwell, including Animal Farm and some of his essays, I've never read his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Shameful, I know.) But that Jeopardy! clue, from a category devoted to terms from that novel's "Newspeak," referred to "physical jerks." That immediately made me think of the same-titled piece in The Most Incredible Thing. To make a long story short, I've now updated both my "literary list" and my entry for that piece with the pertinent information—and it is undoubtedly pertinent.

Come to think of it, since I'll be retiring in a few months, I really ought to add Nineteen Eighty-Four to my to-read list.

Meanwhile, thanks so much to longtime site visitor Alk for letting me know about the new track "Eastend Boys" by the London rapper Stana, featuring Tricky, KJ Fernandez, and Professor Green. Taken from Stana's new album Bandooloo, It's obviously derived from "West End Girls," incorporating some of its lyrics and melody. For this reason, it's very likely that Tennant and Lowe are credited amongst its songwriters (as they were with Lion Babe's recent "Western World"), but so far I haven't found confirmation. Once I do—assuming they are credited—I'll create a separate entry here for "Eastend Boys." (Those are my rules: a Tennant and/or Lowe composing and/or performing credit translates to a commentary page.) Until then, if you would like to hear this new track for yourself, it's available on YouTube and elsewhere online.

May 19, 2019

I've posted the final results of my previous survey, where I asked my site visitors which of various opinions they happen to agree with concerning the recent announcement of MUSIK, the upcoming new cabaret collaboration of the Pet Shop Boys with Jonathan Harvey and Frances Barber. My new poll is one of my occasional (very occasional) questions in which I compile a small set of PSB songs that share some "random" characteristic in common and ask you to pick your favorite. In some ways questions like this are an exercise in triviality and silliness, but I've always believed that being trivial and silly every now and then is good for you. Whatever the case, I've listed the twelve PSB/Tennant-Lowe songs with "night" in their titles. I'd like for you to choose the one you like most. I hope you have some fun with it!

I've also added the recently released track "Grouch" by the Canadian electronica act TR/ST (pronounced "Trust") to my list of specific songs by well-known artists that are avowedly influenced by the Pet Shop Boys. And, in case you're wondering, TR/ST does indeed meet my criteria as a "well-known" artist by virtue of having had one or more releases appear on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart.

May 16, 2019

Something about the chorus of the song "Nightlife" has long intrigued me, but I never really "got" it until one of my site visitors, Nigel Brand, shared with me his personal interpretation—which strikes me as likely very much on target. So I've modified my entry for that song to include a lengthy, only slightly edited quote in which Nigel expounds upon the use of both "nightlife" (one word) and "night life" (two words), as printed in the official lyrics on the Pet Shop Boys' website. Thanks so much, Nigel! As is so often the case, two heads are better than one!

May 14, 2019

As a follow-up to my post day before yesterday (see just below), thanks to John McFadden for pointing out that Inner Sanctum went all the way up to #1 on the U.K. Music Video Blu-ray/DVD chart, which is probably a much better chart to use (as opposed to the Blu-ray/DVD chart for films) for its appearance in my album charts table. Therefore I've updated its entry there. If you would like to see this chart for yourself, it's available online, where you'll note Inner Sanctum currently sits at #4, having fallen from its peak at the top.

May 12, 2019

Thanks to Michael Fick for informing me that Inner Sanctum peaked at #6 on the U.K. Blu-ray/DVD chart. I've updated both my page devoted to that release and my album charts table accordingly.

May 9, 2019

It's proving to be the little musical that could. wink The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today an upcoming new London revival of their 2001 stage musical Closer to Heaven, scheduled for July. Delightful news, even for those of us who can't/won't travel there to see it, and a most interesting synergy considering the recent announcement of their new cabaret spinoff MUSIK, which will debut the following month. Coincidence?

May 8, 2019

Thanks to Steve N for writing to suggest the possible lyrical influence of one line from U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" on a line from one of the songs the Pet Shop Boys gave to Dusty Springfield about three years later, "Daydreaming." Considering that the Boys themselves would soon cover the U2 song, it's certainly possible—but, then again, by no means certain. I discuss this matter briefly in a new annoation to my entry for "Daydreaming."

May 7, 2019

Thanks so much to Raymond for catching a typo I had overlooked in my current poll. I've now corrected it!

May 5, 2019

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors, of the singles released by the Pet Shop Boys since May 2005, for which ones do they prefer a b-side song to the a-side (that is, the song meant to be the actual "single"). My new survey for the next two weeks is inspired by the recent announcement on the official PSB website about MUSIK, the upcoming cabaret show collaboration of the Boys with Jonathan Harvey and Frances Barber. I've listed assorted distinct opinions about this news and I'm asking you to choose the one(s) with which you happen to agree. I'm eager to find out what you all think about this!

May 4, 2019

Thanks so much to several site visitors who have suggested updates over the past couple of days, which I'm only now getting around to making:

I've also happened upon a new remake of "Suburbia" by The Covers Factory, a Spanish band that specializes in lounge-jazzy renditions of other artists' songs. I think it's quite nice. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available on YouTube. And, of course, I've noted it on my page that lists covers of Tennant-Lowe songs.

May 2, 2019

Some weeks ago I mentioned here that the recent song "Western World" by the duo Lion Babe was very clearly derived from "West End Girls." But I held off on doing anything more with it here on my website. But I've now discovered that Chris and Neil do indeed receive an official co-writing credit on that track. So by virtue of that composing credit, I've created and posted a new entry here for the Lion Babe song.

May 1, 2019

Thanks to Steve N. for pointing out some possible symbolism in the reference to the Serpentine (a lake in London) in "That's My Impression." I've noted his astute observation in an expansion on the pre-existing first bullet-point annotation to my entry for that song.

April 29, 2019

I've received feedback from a couple of site visitors who pointed out that, since I've long included the Faroe Islands and Puerto Rico on my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page, then the Åland Islands should be listed there as well. (See my April 23 entry below.) They make an excellent point, so I've now made that addition. Thanks to Mika and Frode for offering this sound rationale!

The final episode of the Definitely Dusty radio documentary (which you can hear online), provides—in addition to interview clips by Chris and Neil—a brief snippet of the rarely heard demo version of "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" featuring vocals by its co-writer, Allee Willis. The pertinent segment begins shortly before the ten-minute mark. A real treat! I've also added a new paragraph to my entry for "Occupy Your Mind" based on a pair of remarkable statements the Boys make about this song during the documentary, and added "In Private" to my list of PSB songs for which the Boys have acknowledged the influence of specific tracks by other artists, again based on info they provided there.

April 27, 2019

Yesterday on their official website Neil and Chris posted a photo of themselves "back in the studio" with Olly Alexander of Years & Years. Does this mean that their long-awaited collaboration "Dreamland" will soon finally see the light of day? Or are they working on something else altogether?