Opportunities
(Let's Make Lots of Money)

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1985
Original album - Please
Producer - Stephen Hague, J.J. Jeczalik, Nicholas Froome
Subsequent albums - Disco, Discography, PopArt, Ultimate
Other releases - 1985 single (UK #116), 1986 single (UK #11, US #10, US Dance #3)

A "cynical joke song" (as Neil has described it) that many people misunderstood and forever caused them to despise the Pet Shop Boys or at least view them with intense suspicion. Much of the problem lies in many listeners' inability to distinguish between the singer of a song and the lyrical persona that he or she has adopted while singing it. But the narrator of "Opportunities" is hardly Neil himself. (For one thing, he never "doctored in mathematics.") In fact, Neil has referred to the narrator as "a pathetic character" who, in the end, isn't at all likely to make "lots of money."

It seems that the Boys are satirizing the mercenary attitudes that they suspect (with good reason) that many performers have in their pursuit of success as pop stars. It can also be viewed as a more general commentary on the prevailing "greed is good" mentality (not to mention outright larceny: "If you have the inclination, I've got the crime") of the Thatcherite/Reaganite era, of which the somewhat socialistically inclined Boys undoubtedly disapproved. It was a message that much of the public—particularly in the United States—didn't want to hear, enamored as they are of the great mythology that rock music is (or should be) somehow above such pecuniary concerns. Musicians who are "only in it for the money" are thus viewed as fakes and traitors. By laying bare this very sentiment, in however a satirical fashion, Tennant and Lowe alienated rock fans who didn't want to hear it and thus turned it back on them. In short, the messengers were condemned on account of the message. Fortunately, this probably didn't matter much to Neil and Chris, who have never considered themselves "rock stars" and detest the mythologizing impulses that made so many listeners turn against them in the first place.

At it happens, "Opportunities" was the first Pet Shop Boys single on Parlophone/EMI, and although it gained little attention the first time around, it became a major hit when it was re-released in the wake of the tremendous international success of the second version of "West End Girls." Interestingly, it's the only PSB single that turned out to be a bigger hit in the U.S. than in the U.K. On Please it appears in two forms: the song proper (which is somewhat different from the single version) and later a brief "Reprise."

Another especially interesting note: although Neil writes nearly all of the Pet Shop Boys' lyrics, he confessed to interviewer Jude Rogers in the January 2011 issue of Word magazine that it was Chris who came up with the unforgettable line "I've got the brains, you've got the looks, let's make lots of money." In fact, Chris specifically asked Neil to write song lyrics based around those words.

Annotations

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