What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

February 22, 2019

I've added to my list of performance parodies of the Pet Shop Boys, at #47, a new track and video titled "Reciclar" by Los Supercívicos (in the guise of "Los Pet Drop Boys"). If I'm not mistaken, it's a Mexican parody of "West End Girls" and Very-era PSB done for a good cause, to promote recylcing of plastic. You can check it out on YouTube if you like. By the way, thanks so much to Lydia for writing to me about this. I stumbled upon it myself shortly before reading her message, but I really appreciate her letting me know in case I hadn't.

February 21, 2019

Today Billboard magazine reported that the Pet Shop Boys have just earned their fourth #1 on its Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart with Agenda. (Billboard doesn't have a separate chart for EPs, so it has to count them either as singles or as albums. Obviously in this case they're counting it as an album.) They add, "The four-song set starts with 1,000 copies sold." (It's very telling that, in this day and age, all it takes are a thousand sales for an album to hit #1, at least on this chart.) The Boys' previous toppers on this particular chart are Release, Disco 3, and Super.

February 17, 2019

Thanks so much to David B. for sharing with me the results of his detective work in narrowing down the likely date of the appearance of "Six Free Stickers" aka "Smash Hits" aka "Stick It On," which I've long listed on my page devoted to unreleased Pet Shop Boys recordings. I've therefore accordingly updated my mini-entry for it there.

Having received his permission to do so, I've added Robert Wright to my Thank You page in recognition of his contribution of info yesterday (see just below). Thanks again, Robert!

February 16, 2019

Thanks to Robert Wright for letting me know that "It's a Sin" could be heard on the February 14 episode of the BBC Two show Back in Time for School. I've noted this in my entry for that song at #21 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

Thanks also to leesmapman for suggesting that the 1976 book Love's Mysteries: The Secrets of Sexual Attraction may have been a partial inspiration for "We All Feel Better in the Dark," although there's room for uncertainty. Hence, I've added as a "maybe" item at #61 in my list of PSB songs with literary references.

Inspired by a posting just the other day on the Pet Shop Boys' official website, I've now created a new list, "Pet Shop Boys Satire," which consists of the songs that they themselves have organized into a new Spotify/YouTube playlist consisting of their satirical body of work. To be sure, they might have included a few other tracks as well, but I think there's little doubt that this selection offers the most notably satirical songs from their catalogue, and I'm not going to add to it.

Finally, as pleased as I am whenever anybody covers a Tennant-Lowe song—well, I'm sorta done with "It's a Sin" covers—I'm especially pleased when it's a song that has very rarely been covered before. So I'm quite delighted to note a new remake of "Liberation" (only the second that I'm aware of) by German electronic artist Andreas Fehlauer, recording under the professional guise of Starcrew 84. Naturally, I've now listed it on my page devoted to covers of PSB songs. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available on YouTube. What I really like about this version is the fact that it starts off gentle and atmospheric, but then, about halfway through, it transforms itself into a full-on dance track. Nice.

February 13, 2019

As I replied to the unnamed site visitor who wrote to ask why I haven't yet added any of the songs from Agenda to my list of what are, in my opinion, the ten greatest protest songs by the Pet Shop Boys, the answer is simple: I haven't yet come to the conclusion that any of the Agenda songs, while surely qualifying for the "protest song" label, are actually "greater" than any of the ten I've already listed. After all, it's a subjective list, completely at my discretion. Of course, I may well change my mind about it someday, and maybe even someday soon. For instance, I can certainly imagine "What Are We Going to Do About the Rich?" edging its way onto that list at some point. I'm just not at that point yet. Or maybe I'll expand the list to twelve rather than just ten. It's something to mull over.

February 12, 2019

I'm getting so many emails right now that it's tough keeping up with them. But that's typical in the wake of new Pet Shop Boys music. Most notably—

February 11, 2019

Thanks to Eddie Xavier for letting me know that, in addition to "Paninaro," which I had already listed on my page devoted to Pet Shop Boys songs that have been used in non-musical films and TV shows as appearing in the 2015 documentary The Queen of Ireland, two other PSB tracks, "We Came from Outer Space" and "Oppressive (The Best Gay Possible)" can also be heard in the same film. I've now updated that list with new mini-entries for those songs at #86 and #87.

Thanks also to Ben V. for sharing an observation about a couple of lines from "On Social Media" (specifically those about "Biting the hand that feeds ya") that I've employed in a new next-to-last bullet-point annotation to that song. It's another of those cases where I can't necessarily agree with the interpretation, but it's interesting and worth nothing nonetheless.

February 10, 2019

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors to select what they consider to be the best and worst "PSB years" from among those in which the Pet Shop Boys did not release a studio album. It certainly should not come as any surprise that my new survey for the next two weeks asks your general early impression of the Boys' new EP Agenda, released just a few days ago. This question concerns this four-song set overall. Please rest assured that I will be running another poll later on, after we've all had time to "settle in" with these songs, asking you to rate each of them individually.

Incidentally, several site visitors wrote to suggest or predict that I would ask a question like this, so thanks to you all for your nudges.

Update – What a difference a question makes! It look less than 17 hours for this week's poll to attract more voters than the previous one did in its entire two-week run!

As is often the case with new songs, I've been making scattered adjustments and additions over the past few days to my new pages devoted to those songs, and those modifications continue. Many of these modifications come in the form of my annotations, so you may want to check them out from time to time over the next few days. I'm indebted in particular to regular site visitor Stephan Broda, Ph.D. candidate in Mathematical Physics/General Relativity (and whom I've now added to my Thank You page), for pointing out a scientific fact that has some whimsical bearing on a line from "On Social Media." I've made this the subject of one of those new annotations. Thanks, Stephan!

Thanks as well to Michael Fick for telling me about an apparently official "B&J Edit" of the Blank & Jones remix of "Home and Dry," which appears to be available only as a digital download (such as from Amazon) and in streaming format (such as from Spotify). Somehow it seems, in at least some such cases, to have taken the place of the "full-length" Blank & Jones Remix of the song that appears on the physical release of Disco 3. I hope to learn more about this curious case. But, in the meantime, I've added it to the list of official remixes on my main page for that song.

And thanks so much also to Simon from Newcastle for letting me know that Dusty Springfield's version of the PSB-written and -produced "In Private" was cited by London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on this past Friday's episode of the famed BBC radio program Desert Island Discs. So I've now added this to my list of Pet Shop Boys songs cited on that show.

February 9, 2019

Yesterday, the day of its digital release, Agenda hit #12 on the U.S. iTunes chart. Not bad, not bad at all. It will be interesting to see whether it dents the Billboard charts in any way, although we probably won't know for another week or so.

By virtue of its reference to Hong Kong, I've added "What Are We Going to Do About the Rich?" to my list of real places mentioned in the lyrics of Pet Shop Boys songs.

Thanks to Nenad P. (whom I've just added to my Thank You page) for sharing a "mathematical" observation about the "9-inch mix" of "So Hard" that I've now noted in the pre-existing mini-entry for that song at #4 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs the titles and/or lyrics of which are (or may be) sly sexual innuendos. It's another one of those situations where I don't necessarily buy into it, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

February 8, 2019

I've now posted my first crack at discussing the final Agenda track, "The Forgotten Child," but I must confess I'm not entirely happy and comfortable with it. I'll likely make significant revisions in the days ahead.

Later today, after I had posted my analysis of "The Forgotten Child," no fewer than five different site visitors wrote to me to suggest that the well-publicized death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi in September 2015 may have served as an at least partial inspiration for the song. So I added an annotation to my entry for the song, providing details about this very sad real-life event. Thanks so much to David B, Coen, Alexey, Hans, and Michael for reminding me of this occurrence and noting it as a possible, even likely inspiration. And thanks as well to Dave F. for suggesting a very different, very allegorical interpretation of the song that I've also mentioned in a new annotation.

Finally, thanks to Jules Chance for giving me a nudge about removing "The Forgotten Child" from my list of unreleased Tennant-Lowe songs. While I had already deleted it from that list (just as I had excised "Give Stupidity a Chance" a few days before), I had neglected to post the update. Oversight now rectified!

February 7, 2019

I've posted a new page with my very preliminary commentary on the new song "What Are We Going to Do About the Rich?" as well as a "placeholder" page for the one remaining unreleased song from Agenda, "The Forgotten Child." I hope to be able to make that more than a placeholder within another 24 hours or so.

By the way, it took me a couple days to figure out the likely significance of the title of the Pet Shop Boys' new EP. But I now strongly suspect it's because they clearly have an agenda with this release—that agenda being sociopolitical commentary, the common thread that binds the songs together. I've noted this in the "mini-entry" for Agenda on my page devoted to selected "special releases."

February 6, 2019

"On Social Media," the second track from the new Pet Shop Boys EP Agenda, made its online debut today. So I've posted a new commentary page on that song. If you haven't already done so, check out the really cool (and extremely clever) official lyric video on YouTube. I think it's so good, in fact, that I've already listed it right along with their other "non-lyric" videos on my PSB music videos page.

February 5, 2019

Exciting and very unexpected news today on the Pet Shop Boys' official websiteAgenda, a four-song EP of brand new songs that will not appear on the new studio album slated for later this year. These new songs will be available one day at a time (the first starting today and the other three spread out over the next three days) on streaming services and on YouTube. The PSB site describes three of them as "satirical" and one as "rather sad." The first, "Give Stupidity a Chance" (undoubtedly among the satirical ones) can already be heard online, including a YouTube lyric video. A CD will also be available in mid-April as a bonus with the release at that time of Annually 2019, which you can order now at the PSB Shop. (I made sure to order mine this time using the faster, if pricier, "courier" option.)

I've already received from various site visitors a number of emails about all this, waiting in my in-box when I got home from work, including comments about that first song, "Give Stupidity a Chance." (You folks don't waste any time, do you?wink) I haven't had a chance to "absorb" this song fully yet, but I have posted my initial, at least preliminary commentary. I reserve the right, of course, to make modifications later on. And I guess I know what I'll be doing for the next several evenings, although I do have plans for Thursday and Friday nights that may force delays in my writing about the last two of these new songs. Whatever the case, please stay tuned!

January 31, 2019

Site visitor Jules Chance was able to track down the recent episode of the U.K. soap Hollyoaks in which "It's a Sin" could be heard: January 15. So I've updated the entry for that song at #21 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows. And, at Jules's request, I've added the name of his daugher Isabelle to my Thank You page in recognition of her having reported that appearance of the song in the first place. Thanks, Jules and Isabelle!

I noticed a short while ago that some of the data on my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page had grown outdated. I've now revised the figures toward the bottom of the page for the "Top 12" countries in terms of site visitors. A few of the countries have changed order in that list, but the most notable revision is that Ireland has now taken Mexico's place at #12.

January 30, 2019

Following up on yesterday's news about the pending release of Inner Sanctum, I've now added a preliminary entry for that upcoming audio/video package to my list of the Pet Shop Boys' major VHS/LD/DVD releases.

Thanks to Jules Chance for letting me know that "West End Girls" was used on the January 26 episode of the U.K. television game show Through the Keyhole. I've updated the entry for that song at #1 in my list of PSB songs used in non-musical films and TV shows accordingly. Jules also tells me that, according to his daughter Isabelle, "It's a Sin" could be heard in a recent episode of another U.K. show, Hollyoaks. We're now trying to get confirmation and details about that likely occurrence; once we do, I'll make the pertinent update.

January 29, 2019

Thanks to ModernRocketry (a pseudonym, naturally) for suggesting that I add the "PSB Hits Medley"—aka "Pet Shop Boys Brits Medley"—to my PSB song chronology page, where it now appears under 2009 March. My only hesitation in putting it there in the first place was that it's not really a distinct song, which would seem to violate the criteria for inclusion. But, as ModernRocketry pointed out, I had already included the "Overture to Performance," which is also somewhat akin to a medley, so the precedent had been established.

Meanwhile, there's great news on the Pet Shop Boys' official website: the long-awaited formal announcement of the release in April of their Inner Sanctum show on blu-ray, DVD, and CD, including some delightful extras. They have a link there to order it via Amazon.uk, but we U.S. fans can also order it from U.S. Amazon. Right now it seems to be "hidden" on the U.S. site, but I found it and placed my order!

January 27, 2019

BREAKING NEWS! - One of my site visitors has alerted me to his discovery, at long last, of the solution to one of the nagging "musical mysteries" in the Pet Shop Boys world: the source of those notorious samples of dialogue heard in the track "Electricity." As it turns out, they come from the 1942 film My Gal Sal starring Rita Hayworth, who's the woman delivering those lines. All three occur in quick succession starting at about 1:40:52 into the movie (as it appears on YouTube). What's more, in context, it's clear that what we all had previously thought was "What does it mean?" is actually "What does this mean?" I've updated my "nagging mysteries" page accordingly. Thanks so much to Kurt Belliveau (whose name I've just added to my Thank You page) for solving this mystery and sharing his discovery with us!

Meanwhile, I've posted the final results of this past week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors how many times they've seen the Pet Shop Boys perform "live," in-person. As I've been suggesting of late, I've now decided, at least for the time being—and quite possibly permanently—to begin running my polls on a biweekly/fortnightly basis rather than weekly. And, appropriately enough, my new poll running for the next two weeks is one that may require some "homework" on your part, so the extra time may prove helpful. I've listed each of the calendar years since the release of the Pet Shop Boys' first album, Please, in which they did not release another one of their generally acknowledged 13 "studio" albums. This makes for a total of 20 different years. But I've listed each of those years twice, and I'm asking you to make two choices: which of them would you describe as the best "PSB year" in which they didn't release a studio album, and which was the worst? In other words, please consider everything done and/or released by the Boys in those years—singles (and their b-sides), compilation albums, Disco albums, music videos, live concerts, VHS/DVDs, "side projects" (such as Closer to Heaven, Battleship Potemkin, The Most Incredible Thing, etc.), publications, and so on—and choose the years that you think were the "best" and the "worst." Thanks to David B for suggesting this most intriguing question! I know I'm going to find it a bit of a challenge, but that won't stop me from voting!

By the way, although I anticipate biweekly polling for the foreseeable future, I do reserve the right to resume weekly polling at any time as well as to have occasional deviations from the biweekly schedule, such as the occasional one-week or even three-week survey. It all depends on (1) my own particular circumstances and (2) what's going on in the "PSB world" at any given time.

Many thanks to Gavin Kagan for noticing and bringing to my attention something that had completely escaped me in Neil's recent book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. Gavin observed that Neil's comments there on "The White Dress" suggest that it had been inspired by a friend who "wore a white dress to the premiere of a film she had directed." Gavin also pointed out that the Boys' longtime friend and occasional collaborator Sam Taylor-Johnson (formerly Sam Taylor-Wood) had worn a striking white dress to the premiere of her 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey. (There are photographs to prove it, but I won't reproduce them here for copyright reasons.) Ms. Taylor-Johnson is therefore all but undoubtedly the subject of "The White Dress," a fact that I've now noted in my revised final paragraph of my main entry for that song. Thanks again, Gavin, for sharing that excellent bit of detective work!

I've also added to my "Pet Shop Boys covers" page an entry for an apparently new remake of "Rent" by Förg and Mottek—an act that so far I haven't been able to learn much of anything about—from their album Fringe Benefits. They perform the song in a hardcore punk/metal style that surely won't be to everyone's liking, but I appreciate it, especially seeing as how it's not "It's a Sin." wink If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available on YouTube.

January 26, 2019

Although I've known about this track for a long time—in fact, since it was first released back in 2008—and it has been suggested to me before as a possible candidate for my "Pet Shop Boys performance parodies" page (although, unfortunately, I don't recall by whom), I've always resisted including the comic single "Jizz in My Pants" by Andy Samberg's comedy music band The Lonely Island. It struck me as far too dissimilar to the Pet Shop Boys' music and style to qualify. Yet the fact that these Americans adopted fake standard British accents for their "raps" does suggest at least an element of PSB parody. So, after long resistance, I've now decided to include it on that page at least as new a "borderline" entry. Thanks so much to my longtime friend Dave D. (whom I've known for more than 40 years, since our college days) for giving me the nudge on this inclusion. And if you would like to hear this (from my perspective) silly, vulgarly juvenile song for yourself and watch its video, it's available on YouTube.