Hallo, Spaceboy
by David Bowie with Pet Shop Boys

Writers - Bowie/Eno
First released - 1995 (original); 1996 (PSB remix)
Original album - 1.Outside (David Bowie)
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Disco 4 (PSB), Nothing Has Changed (Bowie)
Other releases - single (UK #12, US Dance #40)

Neil has attested to the fact that he has long admired David Bowie, so the Pet Shop Boys must have been quite pleased when Bowie suggested that they remix this track from his 1995 album 1.Outside for release as a single. Here's how it came about: Neil attended one of Bowie's "Outside Tour" concerts at London's Wembley Arena, November 14-18, 1995, during which he performed "Hallo, Spaceboy" as an encore. After the show, Neil went backstage to meet David in person for the first time. Neil mentioned that he thought the song would make a good single, and Bowie agreed, adding, "But maybe you guys should remix it." A few days later he followed up by phoning Neil and formally proposing a PSB remix of "Hallo, Spaceboy." Needless to say, the Boys gladly consented.

What the Boys ended up doing was to produce a complete re-recording of the song—although since they made use of existing instrumental tracks in the process, one might still consider it a "remix." Whatever you call it, the result was a major U.K. hit for Bowie, his biggest-selling single of the 1990s.

In addition to the Boys' production duties, Neil adds prominent support vocals, essentially turning the track into a Bowie-Tennant duet. (Bowie contributed some new vocals as well.) Significantly, Neil interpolates lines from Bowie's first hit, "Space Oddity." Bowie was apparently rather concerned at first about this interpolation—which had the effect of converting "Hallo Spaceboy" into the third part of a trilogy that also embraced "Ashes to Ashes," Bowie's own sequel to "Space Oddity"—but later agreed that it worked well after all.

In a radio interview at the time, Bowie reportedly said that he loved what the Boys had done, although when he first heard the second verse, he felt that Neil had shown some "nerve" to "chop up" his lyrics and then sing them himself. (Actually, it was Chris's suggestion that they "cut up" the lyrics of "Space Oddity" to create a new verse for "Hallo, Spaceboy.") But this, as David surely soon realized, was a singularly artful act on the Boys' part, applying the "cut-up" literary technique (pioneered by the Dadaists in the 1920s and popularized years later by the writer William S. Burroughs, among others) to a Bowie classic. And Bowie himself had employed cut-up lyrics from time to time during his career, such as in "Life on Mars," "We Are the Dead," and "Blackout." So it was, on more levels than one, a highly referential idea on Chris's part, and one that transformed "Spaceboy" into, in essence, a new song—not just a remix—as well as a true Bowie/PSB collaboration.

The Boys appear in Bowie's video for the single, and they shared the stage in performances of it both at the 1996 BRIT Awards and on Top of the Pops. When Chris and Neil were putting together their Somewhere stage show, they decided to add this number to the set, thereby making it a full-fledged "Pet Shop Boys track" available on VHS and DVD. And with Disco 4 the Bowie/Boys version finally made it onto a PSB CD "proper."

Annotations

Mixes

Officially released

Only versions featuring the Pet Shop Boys:

List cross-references