Monkey BusinessMonkey Business

Writers - Lowe/Tennant/Price
First released - 2020
Original album - Hotspot
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums - Smash
Other releases - single (didn't appear on the overall UK singles chart but hit #1 for UK physical sales)

Pet Shop Boys get funky.

They had initially worked on this track, "pre-lyrics," during their recording sessions for Super. When Neil first heard the music Chris had created, he thought it was a remix of that album's "Pazzo!" But Chris corrected him, describing it as "a new track using the same sounds." By the time of Hotspot and Neil's addition of lyrics, it had evolved into a virtual throwback to the 'seventies, evoking a funky, frivolous take on disco.

Neil, as he so often does in his lyrics, adopts the role of another character. This time it's based on a man they encountered by chance in front of their hotel in Austin, Texas, during their visit in 2016 on the Super Tour. Recognizing them, he asked what they were doing in town, and they replied that they were appearing in concert. In exchange, they asked what he was doing in town, and he responded, "I'm here on monkey business—just playing around." Neil took it as inspiration for this song's narrative persona: a shamelessly hard-partying, globe-trotting hipster who lives for the mantra of sex, drugs (at least alcohol), and rock'n'roll, or something closely akin to it. As the chorus goes, whenever he arrives in town, he announces:

I'm looking for monkey business
Just playing around
I'm here on monkey business
Look what I've found

Asserting his legendary status as a world-class partier, he insists that everyone around him join in on the revelry:

Bring me margaritas, champagne, and red wine
We're gonna have a party where we all cross the line

As one might expect, the music itself sounds like the soundtrack to just such a party. Neil has described this as "a groove song"—which is, from my own perspective, one of those things that are elusively hard to define but which you know when you see or hear them. To say a "groove song" is irresistibly danceable captures only part of it. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars's 2014 smash "Uptown Funk" is a groove song. So is Daft Punk's big hit "Get Lucky" from the previous year. A groove song is all about the groove. Take away the groove—that hooky, relentlessly danceable quality—and there's nothing left. But it really doesn't need anything else. It's lightweight fun and doesn't pretend to be anything more. Of course, if one is inclined to ascribe to the Pet Shop Boys ulterior motives, such as employing the groove to deliver critical commentary on it, or at least on the ilk of the lyric's hard-partying narrator, then it is indeed something more. Consider, for instance, the line "There are diamonds in the sky that shine for me." The sense of entitlement those words suggest are something the Boys would hardly seem to approve of, as evidenced by the Elysium track "Ego Music." Regardless, make of it what you will.

Co-written with producer Stuart Price, "Monkey Business" is the third single from Hotspot (following "Dreamland" and "Burning the Heather"), formally released as such in February 2020, but unveiled to the public in early January, in advance of the album. The music video—the first featuring Neil and Chris "in motion" since 2013's "Thursday"—was premiered one day before the release of Hotspot.



Officially released

List cross-references