I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1993
Original album - Very
Producer - Pet Shop Boys, Stephen Hague
Subsequent albums - Disco 2, PopArt
Other releases - single (UK #13, US Dance #2)

A short, simple, yet highly melodic piano-driven song that celebrates the exhilaration one feels at falling deeply in love, maybe for the first time. It's also superbly structured with its parallel verses, each prompting the listener to ask a question, which the narrator is then pleased to answer. Succinct, with not a moment wasted, the original Very album version is an absolute gem.

Actually, the song's genesis has nothing to do with being in love. Neil was embarking on a day trip from London to Edinburgh, and on his way via taxi to Heathrow Airport he thought to himself, "I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing"—that is, fly from one place to another and back in a single day. He couldn't get the phrase out of his head, and it soon evolved into a song. He and Chris created the demo for it in the studio the very next day.

Some early critics commented on the song's almost Beatlesque quality, which may have inspired what subsequently happened to it for the single version and its video. Remixed and extended by the Beatmasters, the instrumentation is fleshed out significantly, nearly becoming "busy" in the process. Prominent in the mix, especially toward the end, are backwards percussion effects, droning Indian tamburas, and a piccolo trumpet, all strongly reminiscent of circa-1967 Beatles (think "Penny Lane"). In some mixes it even has a "false ending"—a trick of which the Beatles were fond (as in "Hello, Goodbye" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," among others), in which the song seems to end but then unexpectedly resumes for another go-round.

The video plays on this as well, with Neil and Chris, wearing mop-top wigs, cavorting (and doing various things they wouldn't normally do, such as fighting each other with baseball bats) amidst computerized psychedelia and a pair of futuristic go-go dancers. It's almost as if they're suggesting that this is what Lennon and McCartney (as well as the 1960s in general) might have been like if that decade had been blessed with nineties technology. As Neil himself said in an interview around the time Very was released, "I'm sure if The Beatles had formed in 1983, they would've been a duo. John and Paul would be using synths and drum machines instead of George and Ringo." Fascinating concept, brilliant execution, and a terrific single—at least in this writer's opinion, one of the high points of the Pet Shop Boys' career.

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