What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

October 18, 2020

I'm indebted to a posting today by site visitor Gordon Gray on the Pet Shop Boys Community Facebook page for my being able to add the Depeche Mode classic "Enjoy the Silence" to my list of songs that have been mistakenly attributed online to the Pet Shop Boys.

October 15, 2020

I've just now created and posted a fairly unusual new list—unusual in that I trust it will eventually (hopefully soon) become obsolete so that I can then delete it. It's "Tracks for a prospective third PSB b-sides album." No, I don't have any "inside knowledge" as to whether any such release is pending. But I figure it's just a matter of time (knock on wood). I hope you find it interesting and perhaps helpful.

October 13, 2020

I've added David Furnish (filmmaker and Elton John's husband) to my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside the field of music. (Of course, oft-professed PSB fan Elton himself doesn't appear in that list because he very much is in the field of music.) For evidence of Furnish's fandom, I offer a fairly recent online interview with both him and his husband in which he describes himself, point-blank, in the following manner: "Huge fan of the Pet Shop Boys."

October 9, 2020

I think I've pretty much exhausted the easily searchable files online that might reveal additional "about" statements by Neil to include in my new "What it's about" list. But I did manage to find in recorded audio interviews with the Boys a couple others that qualify: namely, "Love Is a Catastrophe" and "The Sodom and Gommorah Show." And in the process I discovered that I can add "I Made My Excuses and Left" to the "connections addendum" at the end of my list of Pet Shop Boys songs based on classical compositions.

October 8, 2020

Thanks to Rory Simpson for letting me know that "Absolutely Fabulous" could be heard in this evening's special edition of U.K. The Apprentice, subtitled Best Bits: Celebrity Specials. I've noted this in the entry for that track at #45 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and television shows.

October 6, 2020

Thanks to Steve N. for suggesting that I mention how the Pet Shop Boys' association with Helena Springs, co-writer with them of "A New Life," stems from her having provided support vocals on the Stephen Hague-produced version of "West End Girls." I've now made note of that in my commentary on "A New Life."

October 4, 2020

Happy birthday to Chris! You can check out his birthday photo on the Pet Shop Boys' official website.

By the way, my husband George pointed out to me a short while ago that today, October 4, is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is the patron saint of animals and ecology. Accordingly, it's also the day on which some churches hold special services for the blessing of pets. I'm amazed that this coincidence never occurred to me before.

October 3, 2020

Tomorrow is Chris Lowe's birthday. As she so often does, our fellow fan Sherry Gahan has set up a website where we can offer him our birthday wishes. Take a few moments to join in!

During the past week, several site visitors have written to tell me that Rolling Stone magazine has placed the Pet Shop Boys' album Actually at #435 in their latest list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time." Most of them expressed some surprise that such an infamously "rockist" publication should recognize our musical heroes in this way. But it actually (no pun intended) doesn't surprise me very much at all. As I've noted before, rock journalists do tend, in general, to like PSB (though of course there are always exceptions). A common attidude seems to be that they perhaps ought not like them, but they just can't help themselves because, from an objective standpoint, they simply can't deny the Boys' songwriting talent, intelligence, boundless creativity, and, after all this time, sheer longevity. Now, if it were up to me, I would've awarded this accolade to a different PSB album, such as Very or Behaviour. But seeing as how Actually represents the PSB "imperial phase," when they were at their peak of hitmaking popularity in the U.S. (as well as much of the rest of the world), I can certainly see why RS would've picked that album instead. Besides, its now widely acknowledged sociological critique of Thatcherism (and, by extension, Reaganism) must appeal mightily to the magazine's editors. At any rate, I learned of this acknowledgment very shortly after its publication, but I nevertheless appreciate those of you who wrote to inform me of it "just in case."

Incidentally, by coincidence, it was 33 years ago today that Actually made its debut on the Billboard U.S. album chart.

Finally, thanks to Mark Binmore for letting me know that, for the second time in a week, the popular U.K. soap EastEnders used a PSB song—this time, "Minimal." I've accordingly updated the entry for that track at #77 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and television shows.

October 2, 2020

Thanks to Martyn Dunn for telling me about It's a Sin, a five-part drama scheduled for U.K. television sometime next year. Not only does it draw its name from the Pet Shop Boys hit, but the newly released trailer (and, in all likelihood, the show itself) features the song. There are further "PSB connections" as well, including that it stars Olly Alexander, leader singer of Years & Years, who recently duetted with the Boys on "Dreamland." I'm going to hold off on further noting it here on my website (such as in one or more of my lists) until after its 2021 premiere. But it certainly appears to be something to look forward to.

September 30, 2020

Thanks so much Steve N. for sharing an alternative interpretation of "A New Life"—involving, of all things, Chinese history—that I've described at some length in a new second bullet-point annotation to my main commentary on the song. While, as I state there, I don't really ascribe to this interpretation myself, I nevertheless find it intriguing and by no means without merit. I think there's enough there to make you go "Hmmm…." Check it out!

September 29, 2020

Thanks to Jules Chance for letting me know that "Rent" could be heard during a scene of yesterday's episode of the long-running U.K. soap opera EastEnders. I've made note of this in the entry for that song at #40 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

Thanks also to Matteo for pointing out that co-writer Helena Springs's rendition of "A New Life," which she titled "New Love," first appeared on her 1986 album Helena, about a year earlier than I had previously thought. I've made the appropriate adjustments both to the main entry for that song and to its appearance on my page devoted to Tennant-Lowe songs recorded by other artists. Matteo also observed that I haven't listed "Mixes/Versions" of that song on its primary page, suggesting that I ought to list both the PSB and Springs versions. I generally make it a practice not to list mixes/versions unless there's more than one version with direct PSB involvement as performers, producers, and/or remixers. I have, however, made the occasional exception, such as I did for the PSB and Shirley Bassey versions of "The Performance of My Life." Perhaps this is only because the PSB version is a demo, albeit officially released. I'll have to mull over the propriety and wisdom of making that adjustment as well. I don't want to open a new can of worms.

But speaking of cans of worms, I've just discovered a newly opened one related to this track in my PSB Song Chronology. There I had previously listed "A New Life" at August 1987, which was indeed the month of release for the Pet Shop Boys' rendition. If, however, I were to adhere to this chronology's established standards, I should actually list this song by its very first appearance by Ms. Springs. The only trouble is that although I know her version was released in 1986, so far I've been unable to find for certain the month of its release. But its Arista catalog number comes after the Air Supply album Hearts in Motion, which was released in August 1986, and before the Aretha Franklin album Aretha, released in October 1986. Therefore I'm making the reasonable estimate that its appearance in my PSB Song Chronology should be September 1986. So that's where I've now put it, and there it will stay unless and until I obtain more definite information.

September 28, 2020

I've found an old interview with Neil (if you click the link, scroll down to the November 1999 Next magazine interview) in which, while briefly discussing "Happiness Is an Option," he mentions that it was partly inspired by the track "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by Sweetbox. So I've added "Happiness Is an Option" to my list of their songs for which the Boys have acknowledged the influence of specific tracks by other artists.

September 27, 2020

Thanks to Raymond Merkh for catching a long-time oversight—a bit of careless, erroneous wording—in the main body of my commentary on "DJ Culture," which I've now corrected. In discussing the line "Like Liz before Betty," I had referred to Elizabeth Taylor "after" her stay at the Betty Ford Clinic rather than before. Incidentally, speaking of this particular line in the song, one of my regular site visitors, Steve N, wrote to me the other day to point out the interesting coincidence (?) that Liz and Betty are both nicknames for Elizabeth, which he thought might signify a younger "Liz" being reborn into an older "Betty." I disagree strongly enough with this interpretation not to make note of it in my text about "DJ Culture" (I don't believe Elizabeth Taylor was ever referred to as "Betty," at least not in her public life), but since the subject of that line happened to come up, I felt I ought to go ahead and mention it here. Regardless, thanks to Steve for sharing this observation!

Over the past several days I've continued to make sporadic additions to my "What it's about" list, first posted nearly a week ago. I've also made a few changes where I'd found a different "about" quote by Neil that I preferred to the one I had posted originally. So if you haven't checked that list out since then, you might want to take another look at it. Although it's getting increasingly difficult to find new items that meet its "qualifications," I expect I'll still be able to make occasional new additions over the days ahead.

September 26, 2020

Several of you have written to me about the much-anticipated Pet Shop Boys Funko Pop figurines, scheduled for release in February 2021. (This is a correction from my previous apparently erroneous note of October 1.) While I wouldn't normally buy "non-musical" or "non-literary" PSB-related items, I do plan on making an exception in this case. They're just so darn cute. (FYI: They aren't packaged and sold together; rather, they're sold separately.) In this the Boys join a host of other rock/pop stars who have previously received the Funko Pop treatment, including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Elton John, Queen, Morrissey, Billy Idol, KISS, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, and far too many others to name. Immortalization indeed takes many forms.

September 25, 2020

Thanks so much to Nigel Brand for writing to share his obserations about a possible connection related to sampling between the French-language phrases used in "DJ Culture" and the theme of the song itself. It concerns the plot of the film from which those samples are apparently drawn, director Jean Cocteau's Orphée. I've noted this intriguing speculative "sampling connection" in an expansion on the pre-existing final bullet-point annotation to my commentary on that song.

September 24, 2020

One of my longtime site visitors wrote to say how much he likes my new "What it's about" list but pointed out, quite accurately, that I was overlooking quite a few other succinct statements by Neil on what other songs are "about" that simply didn't begin precisely with the words "It's about." He considered this a serious oversight. After mulling it over a bit, I agreed. So I've gone ahead and added a number of other songs to that now rather lengthy list in which Neil's statement on a song is still succinct and still uses the key word "about." Thanks to the site visitor—who has asked to remain anonymous, though I don't know why since his name has shown up here before, but there you go—who made this excellent suggestion!

Thanks as well to "Toaster in the Bath" for pointing out an error in the typography of the album Dusty… Definitely in my list of the current favorite records selected by Chris and Neil in their Literally/Annually publications. I've now made that correction. He also called attention to a punctuation oversight, also now adjusted, on the page devoted to my other favorite artists.

September 23, 2020

Thanks so much to Grims for noticing that I've long neglected to include Liza Minnelli's PSB-co-produced rendition of "Rent" among the mixes/versions listed for that song. Oversight now rectified!

Meanwhile, I've managed through additional research to increase the number of songs included in my new "What it's about" list, noted just below.

September 21, 2020

A few days ago, while researching some information related to several Pet Shop Boys songs online, I was struck by the number of occasions in which Neil has made very succinct statements about what certain songs are "about," specifically when he would use the words "It's about…" in reference to a particular song. Digging further into this phenomenon, I was able to compile a rather impressive list of such quotations. So I've decided to share them with you on a new page in my "Lists" section, titled "What it's about: Neil's succinct song explanations that begin "It's about…." I hope you enjoy this new list.