If Looks Could Kill

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2003
Original album - Disco 3
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

This is another of the songs that were recorded for The John Peel Show, but appears here in a different recording with a somewhat more complex, more sophisticated arrangement. "If Looks Could Kill" was written by the Boys back in 1983. Lacking the melodic and harmonic sophistication of their later work, it's nonetheless an enjoyably poppy, uptempo number highlighted instrumentally by a "fuzzy" bass synth (which replaces the organ or organ samples in the "Peel session" version).

According to Neil, this song is about "confronting a very bitchy person." The lyrics, written in the second person, address someone with whom the narrator has an obviously antagonistic relationship. These two people have extremely sour feelings toward each other, as the recurring refrain makes perfectly clear: "I'd be dead if looks could kill." But our protagonist isn't bothered by this near-deadly gaze. In fact, he has become thoroughly inured to it. And the ill-will is hardly one-sided, as the narrator offers a virtual litany of snide put-downs, describing the other person's "tales of woe, droning on and on," and asserting that "you're fooling no one and you never will."

And it would seem that the whole unpleasant affair will soon be coming to some kind of climax: "Welcome to a unique event where we see what you represent." Unfortunately, we're not let in on the precise nature of this particular "event." But we can't help but wonder whether Neil and/or Chris were inspired by real-life events—by someone one or both of them actually knew—when they wrote this scathing diatribe.

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