What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

June 16, 2019

I've posted the final results of my previous survey, in which I asked my site visitors when was the last time they had heard music by the Pet Shop Boys when they weren't expecting to hear it. As for my new survey for the two weeks ahead, it's no secret that my absolute favorite PSB album is Very. So I've decided to make the "Very era" the focus of the first of a series of several polls (which may or may not run consecutively; that remains to be seen) in which I list the songs recorded and/or released by the Boys during the period associated with a particular studio album—including its associated single b-sides and other non-album songs—and ask you to pick your three favorites.

Incidentally I'm not yet sure whether I'll be doing a poll like this for every studio album, although I'm definitely planning on doing so for at least two others, Behaviour and Bilingual. If they prove popular, I'll probably extend it to other "album eras" as well.

June 14, 2019

To follow up on my entry of one week ago (see just below), I should note that NME has recently published a really fun, mildly tongue-in-cheek interview with Neil Hannon (of The Divine Comedy) in which the Pet Shop Boys and Neil Tennant are glowingly mentioned several times. I've even used one statement to add a little bit to one of the items in my list of "PSB/The Divine Comedy connections" on the page that lists my other favorite artists.

June 7, 2019

Thanks so much to Logan MacFarlane for letting me know that the track "Psychological Evaluation" from the new album Office Politics by The Divine Comedy concludes with the lyrical narrator's listing of performers he's currently listening to, which includes the Pet Shop Boys. I've noted this fact at #50 in my list of tracks that mention the Boys by name as well as in a new "connection" between the two bands in my list of my favorite artists other than PSB.

June 6, 2019

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that they will be headlining a one-day festival, BBC Radio 2 Live, in London's Hyde Park on Sunday, September 15. Because this sounds like a "one-off" performance, I'm not planning to add it to my page that documents their concert tours—although if, when the time comes, it turns out to be more or less another go-round of the Super Tour set, I'll change my mind and add it. I'm hoping, however, that since their next studio album is tentatively scheduled for Autumn 2019 release, they may take that opportunity to debut some new songs. Let's see if that proves true!

June 2, 2019

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors to pick their favorite Pet Shop Boys/Tennant-Lowe song with "night" in the title. My survey for the next two weeks is inspired by an incident that occurred a few weeks ago when I was buying groceries. Usually I don't pay much attention to the often (not always, but often) nondescript background music playing over the store's audio system. But suddenly it grabbed my full attention when the PSB track "Did You See Me Coming?" began to play. What a pleasant surprise! That made me think of other similar pleasant surprises when I hear the Boys' music playing quite by "accident," without my expecting to hear it. And that, in turn, made me wonder when was the last time this happened to you. (I hope it was recently.) That is this fortnight's question.

Incidentally, because of an error in my initial setup, the first 87 voters weren't able to leave any comments had they wanted to. That flaw has now been fixed. If any of you early voters wish to go back into the current results and leave a comment, please feel free to do so. I apologize for the oversight.

Pet Shop Ghouls by Larry McGarryOne of my site visitors shared with me (thanks, Jless!) a link to a delightful cartoon parody of the Pet Shop Boys by cartoonist Larry McGarry. I'm sharing a small, low-resolution image of it on the right, but I invite you to click on the link or on the image itself to visit the website and see it in its full-sized glory. This isn't a "performance parody," so it doesn't qualify for my list of such items, but I think it's still well worth noting here for the month of June.

Thanks so much to John McFadden for pointing me to an online article providing evidence that famed "Bollywood" character actor Chunky Pandey deserves a spot in my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside the field of music. I've now added him.

Finally, you might enjoy a new YouTube video that I've happened upon by self-identified "Piano & Keyboard Artist" Vaughn George Eunson in which he discusses the Pet Shop Boys as purveyors of "Intellectual Pop Brilliance," focusing on them primarily from a musical (as opposed to a lyrical) perspective. It appears to be the first of several videos he's planning to create about them. Check it out! I liked it, and I hope you will, too.

June 1, 2019

Thanks again to Michael Fick, this time for confirming that Phil Harding's book (see yesterday's entry just below) also credits Ian Curnow as having co-remixed "Always on My Mind" with him.

May 31, 2019

Michael Fick wrote to let me know that Phil Harding, in his book PWL: From The Factory Floor (first published in 2009, expanded in 2011), states that his frequent collaborator Ian Curnow worked with him in remixing "It's a Sin." I've therefore updated that information in the mixes data for that song. Thanks, Michael!

May 28, 2019

Thanks to Adrian Williams for letting me know that the Pet Shop Boys' hit rendition of "Always on My Mind" was used in a 1992 episode of the British sitcom Watching. I've now noted this fact in the entry for that song at #16 in my list of PSB tracks used in non-musical films and television shows.

May 26, 2019

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for sharing with me a couple of 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.