One in a Million

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1993
Original album - Very
Producer - Pet Shop Boys, Stephen Hague
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

This driving song, propelled by its locomotive rhythm and galloping bass synthesizer line, can barely conceal its essentially (but not unavoidably) gay subtext. The narrator tries to assure his erstwhile, unfaithful lover that he won't stand in his way or try to prevent his leaving, despite the fact that, as he puts it, "of course I'll feel rejected." But at the same time he warns him that only "one in a million men can change the way you feel"—implying, it would seem, that he himself is that one man. In short, he's telling his lover that he's free to go, but that he'll have a hard time finding as much happiness and satisfaction as he can enjoy by staying.

Neil and Chris created this number by combining elements of two other unfinished songs they had worked on. One was from nearly ten years before and featured the title line "One in a million men"; the other, called "It's Up to You," they had just recently started but were having difficulty completing. That second song's lyrics are echoed in the line "Baby, it's up to me" and, less obviously, in the low, heavily distorted computerized voice at the very end saying "It's up to you"—which, frankly, had always sounded to me like the sound of an old train engine grinding to a halt, appropriate enough given the track's aforementioned "locomotive rhythm." In fact, it's the contrast between those two contradictory phrases may underscore the final message of the song. Whereas the chorus of the song always ends "Baby, it's up to me," which may actually be the narrator's expression of his lover's feelings, the final "It's up to you" may instead convey how the narrator himself feels. In other words, while his lover would place the burden of sustaining their relationship on the narrator, saying that he's the one in a million men who could save it, the narrator spins it around and points back to his lover. No, he's the one in a million men who change the way he feels. Only he can change himself, so it's truly up to him.

Then again, it could be the other way around. Perhaps the final train-engine "It's up to you" should be taken as his lover's "voice," agreeing with the narrator's repeated statement, taken at face value, that "It's up to me." It can be interpreted either way.

Our heroes had toyed with the idea of offering this song to the popular British "boy band" Take That (one of whose members was their future collaborator Robbie Williams), but they ultimately decided against it.



Officially released

Official but unreleased

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