Paninaro

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1986
Original album - Disco
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Alternative, Please 2001 reissue Further Listening 1984-1986 bonus disc
Other releases - b-side of 1986 single "Suburbia"; released as a single in its own right in some countries; reworked as the later single "Paninaro '95"

The 7" version of this track previously appeared as the b-side of the "Suburbia" single. It was also released as a single in its own right in Italy, where this song has its thematic roots. Italy in the early 1980s boasted a "youth cult" consisting primarily of young men dedicated to fashionable clothes (particularly baggy jeans), Timberland boots, motor scooters, and large sandwiches known as "panini" (the plural of "panino"). These youngsters were referred to as "paninari"—or singular "paninaro."

Chris learned of this phenomenon while in Italy promoting "West End Girls," and a bizarre sequence of events then led to the creation of this cult classic in tribute to it. He and/or Neil had mentioned their interest in the "Paninaro cult" to a journalist friend, Peter Martin, who then made note of it in a Rolling Stone article about them. Another journalist, Dylan Jones, had apparently heard about this second-hand and subsequently misconstrued the Boys' interest sufficiently to state in an article for i-D magazine that they had written a song called "Paninaro." But at that point they hadn't yet done so! Our heroes read the Jones article and felt that, error notwithstanding, it was a terrific idea. So they took a track that they had already been working on—more about that in a moment—in which Chris listed his own particular loves and obsessions (including specific fashion designers and "girls, boys, art, pleasure") and added a new "Paninaro" chorus. Hence the final song was born from a remarkable misunderstanding and the Boys' decision to act upon it.

It wasn't until May 2007, in an issue of the PSB Fan Club magazine Literally, that Neil revealed another surprising fact. "Paninaro" (presumably with a different title) was originally something that he and Chris were writing for their manager at the time, Tom Watkins, who happened also to be part of a recording duo called "The Hudsons." Its lyrics included the lines—

I never thought that I would leave you
But I'm in love with a woman

—which would have been somewhat risqué for the period. But nothing came of Tom's duo, so Neil and Chris tossed out the old lyrics and repurposed the track into "Paninaro."

A virtual instrumental, basic and repetitive, it seems very much a "Chris Lowe track" from beginning to end and has been cited by Neil as indicative of his musical partner's fondness for simplicity. (As he said in an interview with Andrew Sullivan, "Chris likes very simple, repetitive dance music, with a single uplifting phrase.") Neil has little to do except sing "Paninaro…oh, oh, oh" over and over. Some mixes feature excerpts from a television interview in which Chris expostulates on his likes and dislikes—mostly dislikes.

The Boys obviously think a lot of this song; nearly a decade later they would release an entirely new version as "Paninaro '95."

Annotations

Mixes/Versions

Officially released

Note: For the "1995 version" and its various remixes, see the separate entry for "Paninaro '95."

Official but unreleased

List cross-references