Love etc.

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/Higgins/Cooper/Powell/Parker
First released - 2009
Original album - Yes
Producer - Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Subsequent albums - Pandemonium, Ultimate
Other releases - single (UK #14; US Dance #1)

The first single, co-written with Xenomania (specifically Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Tim Powell, and Owen Parker), was released a week ahead of the album, although promo copies went out to radio and reviewers more than a month beforehand. The Popjustice website had a "sneak peak" even earlier than that and proclaimed it "brilliant," adding that "It doesn't sound like anything Pet Shop Boys have done before." That almost certainly stems from the fact that the opening melody and much of the backing track were written by Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper even before Chris and Neil got involved. The Boys took what the Xenomania folks had written and worked with them to develop it.

What most stands out in my mind is its bouncy but highly syncopated rhythm, halfway between a backbeat and a march. Interestingly, Neil's vocal and the background instrumentation place the emphasis on contrasting beats. The song's chanting call-and-response chorus further distinguishes it among PSB tracks.

Neil got the idea for the title from an email he received from a friend, who closed his message "Love, etc." Though he found it a curious way to close an email, Neil later realized that it made for a great song title and lyrical inspiration.

The Boys themselves have referred to it as "a post-lifestyle anthem"—or, as Neil put it in an interview with the German magazine Spex, "post-materialistic." Chris chimed in during that same interview, stating that the song takes a stand against the conspicuous consumption displayed in TV shows like MTV Cribs, in which actors and sports figures vulgarly revel in their houses, cars, and other accoutrements of their wealth. This critique is most clearly evinced in the bridge, which plays with the old "Too much of a good thing" trope:

Too much of anything is never enough
Too much of everything is never enough

In other words, some people just want more and more things in their lives and can never be satisfied. It's precisely at those people that "Love etc." takes its most direct aim.

The primary lyrical conceit of the song is an enumeration of all the things you don't have to be or to have in order to "get on in the world." You don't have to be rich, you don't have to be powerful, and you don't have to be beautiful—though Neil concedes "but it helps" on that last point. Nevertheless he sings, "You need more." And just what do you need? Well, for one thing, "You need luck." But also, far more importantly, "You need love."

Now, if this sounds terribly clichéd and obvious, just think about it for a moment. It does seem that all too often people relegate love itself to less than crucial status. They place undue emphasis on their own (and/or their partner's) wealth, power, beauty, and material goods, ultimately to the detriment of the love that they need for enduring happiness. And since people do tend to forget that terribly clichéd, obvious fact, it doesn't hurt to remind them of it every now and then.

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