One and One Make Five
Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1993
Original album - Very
Producer - Pet Shop Boys, Stephen Hague
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)
A desperate plea to a lover to provide assurances, both to the narrator and to their gossiping friends and acquaintances, that their love is still alive and well. He wants the rumors to be proven as false as the idea that "one and one make five." The sense of urgency conveyed by this song in its classic uptempo Europop setting gives it an almost happy soundand indeed its outcome would well be happy if the protagonist's best hopes for a positive response from his lover are realized. It's that ambivalencethe uncertain outcome, the blend of hope and fearthat gives this marvelous song much of its power. That and a smashing great arrangement, one of the best on the Very album. (Chris would probably agree with this assessment; he himself has reportedly said of it, perhaps with just a touch of hyperbole, "musically it's a masterpiece.") Yet, curiously, this track seems relatvely unpopular among PSB fandom in general.
Incidentally, that's the Boys' assistant at the time, the late Dainton Connell, doing the "here we go, here we go" bit.
- It has been suggested that this song, which deals with (among other things) the way rumors can cause hurt and concern in a relationship, may have been partly inspired by the 1852 Hans Christian Andersen tale "Det er ganske vist" ("It's Quite True!"). This very brief story begins with a hen who plucks out one of her feathers. Other barnyard animals start gossiping about it. With each telling the story becomes more exaggerated. By the time it gets back to the original hen, the one plucked feather has inflated into five completely denuded hens. One feather, thanks to rumor, becoming five hens. Hmmm— Most likely it's only a coincidence. But considering that the Boys' 2011 ballet The Most Incredible Thing is based on an Andersen fairy tale, it's worth noting.
- The song's central conceit of "1+1=5" falls into a long tradition of metaphorical applications of basic mathematical concepts, starting with such seemingly straightforward idioms as "Something doesn't add up here" and the like. There are numerous specific examples, with one of the most famous found in the 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by British author George Orwell (pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950), in which the novel's protagonist wonders whether if the totalitarian state were to declare that "two plus two makes five," it would then become true. The band Radiohead used this same "illogical equation" as the title for their 2003 song "2 + 2 = 5." As for the Pet Shop Boys themselves, "One and One Make Five" isn't the first time they've put a mathematical concept to metaphorical use; they did so as early as their first album with "Two Divided by Zero."
- Mixer: Mike "Spike" Drake
- Album version (3:30)
Official but unreleased
- Mixer: [unknown at this time]
- Demo (3:42)
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