The Pet Shop Boys close Fundamental with a brilliant, rousing track in the over-the-top stylistic mode of "Go West," "Shameless," and "Delusions of Grandeur," yet one with far more ominous overtones than even the last of that hallowed trio. Neil describes it as "threateningly triumphalist"appropriately enough for a song that Chris says is about "an overpowering state." On the commentary track of their Cubism DVD, while watching their performance of this song, Chris asks, "Is the whole world moving towards authoritarianism?" to which Neil replies, "I sometimes think [it] is."
Inspired by pending legislation in Britain for issuing official ID cards, the satirical lyrics are uttered from the viewpoint of government bureaucrats who boast a "long live us" attitude. (As Neil told interviewer Andrew Harrison, "I hate the whole idea of, 'Your papers please.' We do not and should not have that in this country.") They include such lines as "Your lives exist as information" and the following perversely logical, frequently expressed, yet extremely chilling quatrain:
If you've done nothing wrong
You've got nothing to fear
If you've something to hide
You shouldn't even be here
It amounts to a conformist, intensely fascistic worldview expressed in the song with the chant of "One world, one life, one chance, one reason, all under one sky, unchanging, one season." With a cold logic that a Star Trek fan might characterize as "Vulcan" in natureor a Doctor Who fan might describe as "Dalekian"our bureaucratic protagonists/antagonists speak directly to the listener, having determined that, as a nonconformist, "You're not integral to the project." The implications are all too clear as Neil coldly states the said project's ultimate goals:
In short, there's no place for you in this new order.
It's worth noting that Neil and Chris include the line "You're not integral to the project." This may (or may not) be an allusion to "The Project" whereby Britain's Labour Party transformed itself into "New Labour" in a successful effort to increase its electoral popularity. Regardless of whether it's a direct allusionthat is, perhaps "the project" in this song is not the same "project" as the New Labour "Project"the Boys nonetheless were undoubtedly aware that their use of the word would carry particular weight.
Recorded with full orchestral accompaniment, this track began with Chris composing the music, although he didn't much care for it at first. He's undoubtedly changed his mind. It's unimaginable that he and Neil wouldn't be proud of their achievement in this song. In fact, they wanted it released as a single, although they ultimately had to compromise on this point. "Integral" would only be released in radically remixed formmanaging in the process to eliminate quite a bit of its original melody and lyricsas a promo single to DJs and dance clubs in support of their subsequent Disco 4 album, on which the remix also appears. The promo packaging depicts a QR Code, a two-dimensional bar-code technology devised by a Japanese corporation in the mid-1990s, which is an appropriate enough image given the subject matter of the song. (QR Code is a trademark of Denso Wave, Inc. Believe it or not, I'm legally obliged to state that and to include the symbolwhich also seems rather appropriate, doesn't it?)
- Is it my imagination, or can we hear Neil gritting his teeth in the first verse when he sings the last part of the line "Conceived slowly to protect you"—almost as if the character he's portraying doesn't truly want to protect anybody?
- This song was partly inspired by the 1921 science-fiction novel We by the Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), although Neil hadn't actually read the book; he had merely thumbed through it. The novel's dystopian plot concerns the inhabitants of a totalitarian, highly bureaucratic, and efficiency-obsessed "One State" that deems itself "perfect" and "immaculate." Their lives are dedicated to the construction of a spaceship called The Integral, designed solely to achieve the goals of the One State.
- "You're not integral to the project" – As noted above, it's possible that this line may have been at least inspired by the so-called "Project" whereby the U.K. Labour Party transformed itself into "New Labour" in order to increase its popularity.
- "If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear" – These opening and recurring lines are closely akin to similar expressions that have been around for a very long time, including:
- "If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide."
- "If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about."
- "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."
Such expressions have often been used in defense of legislation (such as the USA PATRIOT Act) passed in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These sentiments are in fact often widely held and supported by the general public. But when specific individuals who previously held such views find themselves the subjects of government surveillance, they generally have a change of heart. Interestingly, people of libertarian inclinations have been able use these sentiments to turn the tables in response to governments' reactions to Wikileaks: if the government has done nothing wrong, then what has it to fear from Wikileaks (matters of national security notwithstanding)? From both perspectives, it's enough to make one think of the old adage "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
- One of this song's prominent melodic themes—the one first heard played by strings after Neil's multi-tracked "If you've done nothing wrong…" intro—bears a striking similarity (but different enough to be "legal") to that of the "Your body, my body, everybody move your body" melody line from the Michael Zager Band's classic 1978 disco hit "Let's All Chant." At least one writer has suggested that this might be an intentional "musical quotation" on the Boys' part, a means of offering ironic commentary via the fascistic implications of the disco song's mass-exhortation to dance. I don't think I'd go that far myself, but it's a delightful theory.
- Mixer: Robert Orton, Pet Shop Boys, and Trevor Horn
- Album version (3:53)
- Mixer: Pet Shop Boys
- PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix (7:25)
- Available on Disco 4 and on a promo release
- PSB Perfect Immaculate 7" Mix (3:27)
- Available on a promo release and for listening as an "exclusive track" on the official PSB website
- PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix (7:25)
- Mixer: Dave Spoon
- Dave Spoon Mix (7:10)
- Available on a promo release, on certain download sites, and on the UK Now Dance 2008 various-artists compilation
- Dave Spoon Mix Edit (5:27)
- Available on the U.K. various-artists compilation Now Dance 2008
- Dave Spoon Dub Mix (6:58)
- Available on a promo release
- Dave Spoon Mix (7:10)
- Mixer: unknown at this time
- Demo (3:58)
- Available for listening at one time as an "exclusive track" on the official PSB website
- Demo (3:58)
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