Inside

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2012
Original album - Elysium 2017 reissue bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - bonus track with single "Memory of the Future"

This song, one of the bonus tracks released with the single "Memory of the Future," was written and recorded during the Pet Shop Boys' early 2012 Elysium album sessions. It nearly made it onto the album, but the Boys took co-producer Andrew Dawson's advice to leave it off since, in his opinion, is was too similar to another track. ("I can't remember which one," notes Chris.) A short ballad, its message, both timely and timeless, encourages those victimized by the cruelty of others not to be ashamed or to cower in fear, but rather to take pride in themselves. As Neil sings, "You're too beautiful to hide."

While this message can be applied to virtually anyone who's ever been hurt by the insensitivity of others (and who hasn't?), the lyrics focus in particular on two groups: the elderly and children. The first verse deals with the effects of aging, implying how it evokes ageism not only among others but also internalized within oneself. Neil insists, however, that "time can't hide" the "starlight in your eyes." Rather, "you'll still be beautiful inside."

The second verse moves to the opposite end of the age spectrum, to a world of "playground bullies" who "taunt and cheat," and those who spread "ugly rumors." When Neil encourages the victims of such acts, "Don't deny what's implied," one can't help but feel he's referring specifically to children who are either gay or at least perceived to be gay, who are indeed among the most frequent targets of such youthful cruelty. They, too, are beautiful inside—with the pointed addendum of being "too beautiful to hide."

The lyrics make it very clear, however, that we all need to inculcate this message within ourselves. We are all "fallen angels," a metaphor that suggests our own potential for being both victims and perpetrators of such insensitivity. Neil engages in a bit of intriguing wordplay when he sings, "All of us still fly from hello to goodbye," with the first syllable of "hello" harkening back to the image of fallen angels.

In the final verse, the lyrics zero in on the narrator himself ("And if I ever seem to fail") with sufficient ambiguity to suggest that, once again, Neil is acknowledging his own potential as both victim and victimizer. Though he shifts back to the second person when he concludes with one final "You're so beautiful inside," he can't help but include himself in that global "you." And we mustn't ignore Chris. As co-writer and -performer, not to mention fellow human being, he's included as well.

List cross-references