What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

March 22, 2018

As a reminder, other commitments will prevent me, for the next few days, from making any updates here on my website—no matter what may occur in the wider "PSB world"—and probably even from checking and responding to email. That's why I won't be starting a new poll this coming Sunday. And if you write to me and I don't reply right away, that's also why. But I promise to get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, thanks and take care!

March 20, 2018

The Pet Shop Boys have announced on their official website that they will be performing in Tallinn, Estonia on July 6. I've now added this date to my PSB Tours page.

Thanks to Steve N. for asking whether the fact that Neil name-checks British boxer Naseem Hamed in at least some live renditions circa 1999-2000 of "Left to My Own Devices" qualifies him for inclusion in my list of real people mentioned by name or title in PSB songs. I've decided that it doesn't merit inclusion in the "list proper" but that I should mention it in an endnote, which I've now done.

I've discovered a gem—a badly flawed gem, to be sure, but a gem nonetheless—that I want to share with you. But first a bit of background. Nearly every morning, while driving to work, I divide my time listening, back and forth, to two different SiriusXM satellite radio stations: 1st Wave (which plays New Wave and "eighties alternative," including the Pet Shop Boys) and the "music talk" station Volume. And the Volume show during my morning commute is Feedback, hosted by Nik Carter and Lori Majewski. As usual, I listened to part of their show this past Thursday morning on my way to work. What I didn't know, however, is that at another point in their show that same morning—a portion that I had missed because it came either before or after my commute—was a half-hour sequence devoted to none other than "Being Boring." It was in the show's recurring segment "Anatomy of a Song" with Marc Myers, in which he takes one song and explores it from various angles. (Not at all coincidentally, Myers is the author of The Wall Street Journal article about "Being Boring" that I mentioned here and linked to on February 27.) Fortunately, I happened upon a recording of this segment archived on SoundCloud. As I said, it's seriously flawed in several ways: it's at times inappropriately U.S.-centric (such as by focusing on the impact of AIDS in the States rather than in Britian, which would have been more apt in the context of the song), it includes a number of cringe-inducing factual errors, and it features Myers's embarrassing mispronunciation (even after Nik had pronounced it correctly beforehand) of Kylie Minogue's surname. (Myers pronounces it "Mine-oh-gue," the last syllable rhyming with "glue.") He also fails to recognize the Behaviour album version of "Being Boring," dismissing it as a "remix." Nevertheless, I'm delighted that a U.S. radio program devoted a half-hour to this marvelous song—generally neglected here on this side of the North Atlantic—fully recognizing it as the work of brilliance that it is, while also giving ample credit to the Pet Shop Boys overall as important artists. I hope you like it—and please don't let its flaws upset you too much. wink

March 19, 2018

As announced today on the Pet Shop Boys' official website, they are slated to perform in Helsinki, Finland on August 2. I've now added this date to my PSB Tours page.

March 18, 2018

I've posted the final results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to play 1 Has 2 Go with three classic Pet Shop Boys albums—Actually, Behaviour, and Very—deciding which one they would "discard," if they had to, with the understanding they could then "keep" the other two. As it turns out, the final result is a dead heat between two of the three—an outcome that I feel worth commenting on. From the very start of this poll, Actually took and held the lead for nearly its entire length. It wasn't until the final day of voting that Very began a pronounced advance to catch up to Actually in the tally, which it didn't achieve until about an hour before the poll's conclusion. It seems statistically unlikely, but it is what it is.

My new poll isn't for the usual week ahead but rather for the next two weeks, running up to April 1—which happens to be Easter Sunday this year—since other commitments will prevent me from doing my usual switch to a new survey next weekend. (I'll also be more or less out of touch next weekend and probably won't be able to reply to emails.) So you have twice the time, if needed, to make your decision. I'm wondering what you consider to be the Pet Shop Boys' three sexiest music videos for their singles. You may choose fewer than three if you wish, but no more than that. Of course, it's completely up to you to determine for yourself what does and doesn't constitute "sexy." Thanks so much to Andrew S. for suggesting this intriguing question, although I modified it a bit. He proposed that you choose their sexiest video, period; I decided to let you pick up to three. See how I always try to make it easier for you? wink

March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day! While it's not Irish, and it may not be everyone's cup o' tea, it's still plenty good to me: singer-songwriter Justin Vancura's spare but lovely new cover of "My October Symphony." I've now noted it—only the second sufficiently professional remake of that song that I'm aware of—on my page that lists renditions by other artists of Tennant-Lowe songs. If you would like to hear it for yourself, you may do so on YouTube.

I love this headline from yesterday's Charlotte Observer review of the current (and nearly concluded) run there of The Most Incredible Thing: "'Most Incredible' show: Whatever it’s about, Charlotte needs more of it."

And to follow up on my posting yesterday about Tracey Thorn, one of my regular site visitors wrote to tell me about her remake of "King's Cross." Actually, I've known about her rendition of that song ever since it first came out in 2007, and I noted it at that time on my aforementioned PSB covers page. But I appreciate the gesture nonetheless, so thanks, Koen!

March 16, 2018

Thanks so much to Eke Webb for pointing out that former Everything But the Girl vocalist Tracey Thorn has specifically cited the Tennant-Lowe song "So Sorry, I Said" as an inspiration for her song "Face," which appears on her new album Record. I've now added this track to my list of specific songs by well-known artists that are avowedly influenced by the Pet Shop Boys. It's actually one of a number of recent references that Ms. Thorn has made to the Pet Shop Boys in assorted postings and interviews associated with her new album, including an assertion that she's been greatly inspired by the Boys in general, and especially by their song "Being Boring." She has also said that she would love to work with them at some point.

Thanks to Jammer for sharing with me a translation of the Russian lyrics for the cover of "West End Girls" by EK Boys that I noted here on March 4. As it turns out, they aren't the WEG lyrics translated into Russian—or even close—but rather are completely different, blending social commentary, humor, and what strikes me as good-natured digs at Pet Shop Boys songs and videos themselves. I've made note of this fact in my now revised entry for this "semi-cover" on my page that lists remakes of Tennant-Lowe songs.

Incidentally, as it so happens, today is the 17th anniversary of this website. Who'd have thought it would have lasted this long?

March 11, 2018

I've posted the final results of my poll for the past week, in which I asked when was the last time you "evangelized" for the Pet Shop Boys, trying to convince someone else of how good they are or maybe even convert them into a fan. This week's survey is a little more like a "game" even than usual. I'm using the internet meme 1 Has 2 Go, which has been adopted and popularized lately by Billboard magazine, which often plays it with celebrities. Known as "the game of impossible choices," the concept is simple: present people with three admittedly wonderful things and ask them to choose the one that they would "throw away," with the understanding that they could then "keep" the other two. So I'm asking you to "play" this week with three PSB studio albums. Of course, narrowing them down to just three is a daunting task, the results of which I'm sure will displease many of you. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. So I've chosen what I firmly believe—based on a good deal of experience, not to mention online research—are the Pet Shop Boys' three greatest classics, the ones most generally acclaimed among fans and critics alike: Actually, Behaviour, and Very. 1 Has 2 Go. You get to choose the "loser," at least when compared to the other two. As much as it hurts, I know which one I'd pick. Now it's up to you!

Between the official PSB website and reports from several of my site visitors, I've been keeping abreast of the events surrounding the U.S. premiere of The Most Incredible Thing in Charlotte, North Carolina. As most of you have probably learned by now, the first two scheduled shows, Friday night and Saturday afternoon, had to be canceled on account of serious technical issues. But the third show, Saturday evening, took place as scheduled, becoming, in effect, the new "opening night." Not so incidentally, Neil was in attendance. (He had hoped to see the first three shows, including Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, but will apparently have to settle for just the Saturday night performance before leaving to attend to other commitments. Chris will reportedly not be attending any of the Charlotte performances.) Thanks so much to those of you who have been helping to keep me in the loop!

March 9, 2018

Another PSB summer tour date has just been announced: Törebodafestivalen in Töreboda, Västergötland, Sweden on July 7. Again, I've updated my Pet Shop Boys Tours page appropriately.

March 8, 2018

The Pet Shop Boys' website has announced another summer concert date, this time July 21 in Benicàssim, Spain. Naturally I've updated my PSB Tours page to include this new show. Stay tuned for more! And thanks to Henrik Guldberg for noticing that I hadn't yet updated that page to include the Boys' return engagement this summer at the Royal Opera House. Duly noted and addressed!

March 7, 2018

Our musical heroes have been getting a lot of attention of late in the U.S. press. Today The New York Times posted a marvelous article about them and their ballet The Most Incredible Thing, which will have its American debut this Friday evening in Charlotte, North Carolina.

March 6, 2018

The Pet Shop Boys announced on their official website today that their Super Tour will extend into a third year with a performance August 4 at Wasa Open Air in the city of Vaasa, Finland. I've updated my PSB Tours page accordingly. Undoubtedly it will only be the first of many such updates in the days and weeks ahead.

By the way, I'm essentially well past my weekend bout of food poisoning, although I still unable to eat everything I'd like to eat. (I only had soup for lunch, which I don't often do.) It'll probably take me another day or two to get back to my usual diet. Thanks so much to those of you who offered well-wishes and expressions of concern. I appreciate it!

March 4, 2018

I'm suffering the effects of food poisoning (the culprit was a salad bar), so if I'm slow in responding to any emails you send me right now, that's why. I just don't feel up to spending much time at the computer. But I've managed to post the final results of last week's survey, in which I asked what you suspect is the primary reason that "Being Boring" somewhat "under-performed" as a single. And I've launched my new poll for the week ahead, asking when was the last time (to be best of your recollection) you "evangelized" for the Pet Shop Boys—that is, tried to convince someone of how good they are or perhaps even convert them into a fan.

Thanks so much to Jammer for alerting me to a delightful remake of "West End Girls" (incorporating a bit of "Paninaro" as well) by a group of Pet Shop Boys fans in Ekaterinburg, Russia who call themselves EK Boys. While their arrangement of the song is highly distinctive and imaginative, it also offers distinct nods to the original. They also present it with a marvelous music video that starts off paying tribute to the PSB original but then heads off in different directions, parodying various other PSB videos as well. Much too good to be considered merely an "amateur" production, I've now noted it on my page that lists covers of Tennant-Lowe songs.

Thanks also to Matteo for calling attention to the fact that the album and single mixes of Dusty Springfield's version of "Nothing Has Been Proved" appear to be essentially identical, differing only in that the album version fades out about two seconds sooner than the single. I've noted this in a revised entry for the mixes of that song.

March 3, 2018

Thanks to Mike K. for telling me about an article on the Royal Opera House website about the Pet Shop Boys' now sold-out return Inner Sanctum engagement there this summer. What makes it especially noteworthy is an extremely negative first comment posted about it, but then quickly followed by a long string of extremely positive comments in defense of PSB and the ROH. I think you'll get a kick out of it.

Thanks also to a site visitor who has asked to remain anonymous for observing that the naming of an official “9" edit” of "So Hard" is almost certainly a rather sneaky sexual innuendo. I've noted this in an expansion of the already-existing entry for that song at #4 in my list of Pet Shop Boys titles and lyrics that are (or may be) sly innuendos.

Although this next thing has virtually nothing to do with the Pet Shop Boys, I've found a way to make a connection, so to speak. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the worldwide release of what I (and many if not most other critics) consider to be Madonna's greatest album, Ray of Light. (It had actually been released in Japan a few days before, but that was an anomaly.) I'm going to make sure I set aside some time today to listen to it again from start to finish; it's been quite a while since I've done so. And here's my "PSB connection": it reminds me that later this year will see another landmark anniversary, the 25th, for what I (and many but probably not most of my fellow fans) regard as the Pet Shop Boys' own greatest album, Very. That comes on September 27. I wonder whether the Boys have anything special in mind to make the occasion. I'm going to have to try to think of something special myself.

Finally, I've found myself pondering the appearance the other day (as I noted in my Februay 27 entry below) of an article devoted to "Being Boring" in The Wall Street Journal. In short, why? This is merely sheer speculation on my part, but I vaguely recall hearing many years ago of an urban legend (for lack of a better term) that the Pet Shop Boys were often favorites of young Wall Street traders back in the late eighties. Their song "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" was apparently a particular favorite because many of those young professionals took it completely seriously as a paean to money-making, altogether missing the song's irony and its "unreliable narrator"—and those who did grasp the irony also loved it for its humor as a rare artifact of "financial camp," as it were. As for "Being Boring," there's no denying that, like so many other segments of society, Wall Street was hit hard by the AIDS epidemic in the late 'eighties and early 'nineties, losing many to the disease. So a PSB classic with a powerful "AIDS connection" is likely of great interest to many readers of WSJ—not all of whom work on Wall Street, to be sure.

February 28, 2018

Thanks so much to Andrew J. Smith for sharing with me some fascinating observations—somewhat Freudian, but from a humorous perspective—about the music video for "Can You Forgive Her?" that have inspired me to add a new final bullet-point annotation to my commentary on that song.

Thanks also to Jane Morley for informing me that Chris and Neil attended a performance yesterday of the dramatic monologue Girls & Boys at London's Royal Court Theatre yesterday, which I've noted in the entry for that date on my "On This Day in Pet Shop Boys History" page. Of course, it won't actually show up there now for another 364 days.

February 27, 2018

By coincidence, just as my survey this week is concerned specifically with "Being Boring," there's a brand new article, dated today, on (of all things) The Wall Street Journal website focusing on that very same song. It even calls attention to the fact that it wasn't particularly successful as a single, which lies at the heart of my poll question. Considering the time it takes to write and publish such an article, it's no doubt pure happenstance. I guess sometimes the stars simply line up right.

February 25, 2018

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors whether they prefer recordings of Pet Shop Boys songs to conclude with fadeouts or with hard/cold endings.

Switching gears, I first want to point out that it's not often for any my weekly surveys to focus on a single song. And when it does, it's usually because I'm asking which version or mix of a particular song is your favorite. But this week's survey is most unusual. It starts with the observation that one of the Boys' most highly regarded songs—if not the most highly regarded PSB song, at least among both die-hard fans and the critical community—is "Being Boring." Yet for all of this apparent respect and acclaim, it proved to be a comparatively "poor performer" when it was released as a single back in late 1990, reaching no higher than #20 on the U.K. singles chart. For the record, it was their lowest-charting single since their big #1 hit version of "West End Girls" five years prior—a total of 13 bigger hits beforehand. And it was hardly the "beginning of the end," either, since no fewer than 20 PSB singles after "Being Boring" charted higher.

So why? In short, I'm asking you to speculate on the reason for "Being Boring" not faring better as a single. Of course, maybe there's more than one reason, in which case I'd like for you to choose what you believe to be the primary or "biggest" explanation for its relatively low chart showing—the largest nail in its proverbial coffin, so to speak. I'm eager to find out what you think. And thanks so much to porkchopkid for suggesting this most intriguing question!

February 24, 2018

For the second week in a row (see February 17 below), the U.K. television program Through the Keyhole has featured a Pet Shop Boys song, in this case "Suburbia." I've noted this evening's occurrence in the entry for that song at #17 in my list of PSB tracks used in non-musical films and TV shows. Thanks once again to Rob Bainbridge—clearly a fan of both PSB and that particular game show—for informing me of this fact.