What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

June 23, 2019

Thanks so much to Robert Goldstone for providing evidence that yet another song, "Discoteca," belongs in my new list of Pet Shop Boys "'singles' that weren't." It's there now!

June 22, 2019

Thanks to Alk for alerting me to a statement by Neil in Issue 25 of the Pet Shop Boys Fan Club publication Literally in which he refers to Hoagy Carmichael's classic song "I Get Along Without You Very Well" as well as Bob Dylan's "Most of the Time" in discussing "I Get Along." This leads me to modify slightly what I've written in one of my annotations to that song as well as to add it to my list of PSB songs for which the Boys have acknowledged the influence of specific tracks by other artists.

It's been quite some time since I've called attention here to any of JCRZ's many unauthorized but high-quality remixes of Pet Shop Boys tracks. But I like his latest so much I can hardly resist. I invite you to listen on YouTube to his excellent new remix of "The Forgotten Child." With his long track record (so to speak) of such superb remixes of their songs, I believe it would be truly marvelous if the Boys could at some point tap him to do one or more official remixes of their work.

June 21, 2019

Improvements continue to be made to my new list of "PSB 'singles' that weren't." In this case, David B. wrote to correct a couple of errors I had made in the chronology and details of the might-have-been-a-single history of "Positive Role Model." I've now made those corrections. Thanks, David!

I've learned that "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" is being used in video ads to promote the upcoming release of the Netflix film The Naked Director. Hence, it earns position #10 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that have been used in TV commercials. (As I note there, I don't know yet whether the song will appear in the film itself, in which case it will also merit inclusion—when the time comes—in another of my lists.) I'm indebted to "postboy" of the Pet Shop Boys Community Forum for calling attention to this fact.

June 20, 2019

Thanks to Nigel Brand for letting me know (and providing evidence) that "Vulnerable" deserves a spot in my new chronological list of "PSB 'singles' that weren't" (see just below). Now added!

June 19, 2019

I've finally gotten around to posting a new Pet Shop Boys list that I've long contemplated: "PSB 'singles' that weren't." In other words, these are songs that were (or at least strongly appear to have been) seriously considered as candidates for singles but which, for one reason or another, were not released as such. Please note that I'm not yet confident that I've captured all of the songs that ought to be included in this list. So if you're aware of additional "PSB 'singles' that weren't" and can cite solid evidence for your observation—such as something that the Boys themselves have said about it, as opposed to your own personal feelings that a certain song would've made a great single—I'd love to hear from you. Before you write, however, please be sure to read that list's introductory paragraphs, which outline the criteria for inclusion and specify a few known "exceptions."

Thanks so much to both David B. and Paul Chapman for separately writing to tell me about a news report today that certainly deserves mention in my list of strange but true incidents involving the Pet Shop Boys. It concerns a diagnosed paranoid-schizophrenic who has been convicted of two counts of attempted murder, allegedly inspired in his misdeeds by "West End Girls." You can read more about it in my new "strange but true" entry.

June 16, 2019

I've posted the final results of my previous survey, in which I asked my site visitors when was the last time they had heard music by the Pet Shop Boys when they weren't expecting to hear it. As for my new survey for the two weeks ahead, it's no secret that my absolute favorite PSB album is Very. So I've decided to make the "Very era" the focus of the first of a series of several polls (which may or may not run consecutively; that remains to be seen) in which I list the songs recorded and/or released by the Boys during the period associated with a particular studio album—including its associated single b-sides and other non-album songs—and ask you to pick your three favorites.

Incidentally I'm not yet sure whether I'll be doing a poll like this for every studio album, although I'm definitely planning on doing so for at least two others, Behaviour and Bilingual. If they prove popular, I'll probably extend it to other "album eras" as well.

On a different front, I've only now noticed a dreadful oversight on my part. It wasn't until this morning that I realized I had neglected to add the four tracks from the Pet Shop Boys' Agenda EP, released this past February, to my PSB Song Chronology. Oversight now rectified!

Garland by AvedonNot too long ago, one of my site visitors wrote to ask me if there were some specific antecedent or inspiration for the image of Chris and Neil holding bunches of roses on the cover of the aforementioned Behaviour. I couldn't recall what it was at the time, but I remembered reading something about it at some point. So I promised to let him know if I happened upon the answer. As it so happens, while skimming this morning through last year's special edition of Classic Pop devoted to the Pet Shop Boys, I found it! That image had apparently been inspired by a 1951 photo by Richard Avedon of Judy Garland, sure enough holding a large bunch of roses. (I'm temporarily providing here a small, low-resolution reproduction of this copyrighted image for reference purposes, but you can click on the photo itself or the link above to see it elsewhere at a much larger size.) At any rate, I wanted to reply directly to the original email but, much to my dismay, I simply can't locate it! So I'm posting the answer in hopes that the person who asked me about this will read about it here.

June 14, 2019

To follow up on my entry of one week ago (see just below), I should note that NME has recently published a really fun, mildly tongue-in-cheek interview with Neil Hannon (of The Divine Comedy) in which the Pet Shop Boys and Neil Tennant are glowingly mentioned several times. I've even used one statement to add a little bit to one of the items in my list of "PSB/The Divine Comedy connections" on the page that lists my other favorite artists.

June 7, 2019

Thanks so much to Logan MacFarlane for letting me know that the track "Psychological Evaluation" from the new album Office Politics by The Divine Comedy concludes with the lyrical narrator's listing of performers he's currently listening to, which includes the Pet Shop Boys. I've noted this fact at #50 in my list of tracks that mention the Boys by name as well as in a new "connection" between the two bands in my list of my favorite artists other than PSB.

June 6, 2019

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that they will be headlining a one-day festival, BBC Radio 2 Live, in London's Hyde Park on Sunday, September 15. Because this sounds like a "one-off" performance, I'm not planning to add it to my page that documents their concert tours—although if, when the time comes, it turns out to be more or less another go-round of the Super Tour set, I'll change my mind and add it. I'm hoping, however, that since their next studio album is tentatively scheduled for Autumn 2019 release, they may take that opportunity to debut some new songs. Let's see if that proves true!

June 2, 2019

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors to pick their favorite Pet Shop Boys/Tennant-Lowe song with "night" in the title. My survey for the next two weeks is inspired by an incident that occurred a few weeks ago when I was buying groceries. Usually I don't pay much attention to the often (not always, but often) nondescript background music playing over the store's audio system. But suddenly it grabbed my full attention when the PSB track "Did You See Me Coming?" began to play. What a pleasant surprise! That made me think of other similar pleasant surprises when I hear the Boys' music playing quite by "accident," without my expecting to hear it. And that, in turn, made me wonder when was the last time this happened to you. (I hope it was recently.) That is this fortnight's question.

Incidentally, because of an error in my initial setup, the first 87 voters weren't able to leave any comments had they wanted to. That flaw has now been fixed. If any of you early voters wish to go back into the current results and leave a comment, please feel free to do so. I apologize for the oversight.

Pet Shop Ghouls by Larry McGarryOne of my site visitors shared with me (thanks, Jless!) a link to a delightful cartoon parody of the Pet Shop Boys by cartoonist Larry McGarry. I'm sharing a small, low-resolution image of it on the right, but I invite you to click on the link or on the image itself to visit the website and see it in its full-sized glory. This isn't a "performance parody," so it doesn't qualify for my list of such items, but I think it's still well worth noting here for the month of June.

Thanks so much to John McFadden for pointing me to an online article providing evidence that famed "Bollywood" character actor Chunky Pandey deserves a spot in my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside the field of music. I've now added him.

Finally, you might enjoy a new YouTube video that I've happened upon by self-identified "Piano & Keyboard Artist" Vaughn George Eunson in which he discusses the Pet Shop Boys as purveyors of "Intellectual Pop Brilliance," focusing on them primarily from a musical (as opposed to a lyrical) perspective. It appears to be the first of several videos he's planning to create about them. Check it out! I liked it, and I hope you will, too.

June 1, 2019

Thanks again to Michael Fick, this time for confirming that Phil Harding's book (see yesterday's entry just below) also credits Ian Curnow as having co-remixed "Always on My Mind" with him.

May 31, 2019

Michael Fick wrote to let me know that Phil Harding, in his book PWL: From The Factory Floor (first published in 2009, expanded in 2011), states that his frequent collaborator Ian Curnow worked with him in remixing "It's a Sin." I've therefore updated that information in the mixes data for that song. Thanks, Michael!

May 28, 2019

Thanks to Adrian Williams for letting me know that the Pet Shop Boys' hit rendition of "Always on My Mind" was used in a 1992 episode of the British sitcom Watching. I've now noted this fact in the entry for that song at #16 in my list of PSB tracks used in non-musical films and television shows.

May 26, 2019

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for sharing with me a couple of observations with regard to my update a few days ago (see May 23 below) of my entry for "Physical Jerks." First, he noted that the title is also a very likely pun on the personalities of Karl and his cronies—that they are indeed "jerks." I've actually long thought this myself, and I'm somewhat surprised I hadn't "spelled it out" in my commentary. Oversight now rectified! Second, he provided evidence that the term "physical jerks" actually predates George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by at least two decades. The evidence he cites is compelling enough for me to include a pertinent footnote in my commentary on that track. But, as I note there, even if the phrase does predate Nineteen Eighty-Four, it doesn't dismiss the likelihood that Orwell's novel nevertheless provides a literary underpinning for its use in The Most Incredible Thing.

The Pet Shop Boys' official website noted yesterday that the U.K. Official Charts Company has listed them at #20 among the most successful singles artists in U.K. rock/pop history. It's a noteworthy achievement, to be sure. But when you examine the list itself, you can't help but notice a few problems. Those who compiled that list appear to have been—there's no delicate way to put this—somewhat incompetent.

Take a look at the numbering of the list. From #1, Elvis Presley, to #7, Eminem, no problem. Then there's a two-way tie at #8 with Robbie Williams and Elton John. Again, all is well. But then you notice Rihanna at #9. That's not how such lists should work. When there's a tie in such a list, one is supposed to skip a number. So Rihanna should be #10 rather than #9 because there are nine artists ahead of her in the list. Look a little farther down, after the Beatles at #10 (should be #11) and you see Rod Stewart and Calvin Harris tied at #11. Next are Westlife, David Bowie, and Queen all tied at #12. But then things really go awry. Mariah Carey is listed at #15. No #13 or #14. In other words, the list-compilers only at that point begin the skip-the-numbers thing. They can't even maintain the consistency of their initial error! Instead they ludicrously apply one "rule" (as flawed as it is) for the first half of the list, and then apply a different rule (the right one) for the second half.

I could excuse them if they had maintained consistency; it would mean that we simply disagree about the "rules." But they don't maintain consistency. They're just sloppy. And I can understand somebody making mistakes like this in originally putting the list together. But you'd think somebody would catch and fix them before publishing it online. I mean, heaven knows, I make and publish mistakes all the time. But I'm just little ol' me doing this as a hobby. The Official Charts Company—I repeat, Official Charts Company—is a friggin' business with paid employees and all!

To summarize, Pet Shop Boys should actually be #22 in that list (tied at that position with two others, Status Quo and Ed Sheeran) because there are 21 artists ahead of them. That's not to detract from their achievement in any way. It's merely to get it right.

May 24, 2019

Thanks to the Rev. Christopher Rodkey for noticing and letting me know that the opening lines of "The Loving Kind" and the earlier song "Love Pains" (not written by the Pet Shop Boys but produced by them for Liza Minnelli) are very nearly identical—a most intriguing observation. Accident or homage? Whatever the case, I've made note of it in a new bullet-point annotation to my commentary on "The Loving Kind."