Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2009
Original album - Yes
Producer - Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Subsequent albums - Pandemonium
Other releases - (none)

One advance reviewer suggested that this driving pop tune punctuated by horns (or horn samples) is the most "typically PSB" track on the album. It seemed to have "single" written all over it. The fact that it was never released as such perplexed many fans.

The title—derived from ancient Greek, meaning "all demons"—is a word coined by the great English poet John Milton in his 1667 masterwork Paradise Lost. He used it as the name of the capital city of Hell, where Satan governs his dominion: not at all a pleasant place. It has since come to refer to any extreme state of disorder, confusion, and/or noise. Perhaps appropriately, then, the song has the fairly unusual (at least for them) time signature of 12/8, which contributes to its raucous, somewhat off-kilter mood.

Chris and Neil have said that it was inspired by the volatile (and now defunct) romantic relationship of English model Kate Moss with rock musician Pete Doherty, as conveyed from Kate's point of view (though there's nothing in the lyrics to indicate that they're necessarily from a feminine perspective). The narrator expresses her utter shock and dismay at her lover's outrageous behavior, "crashing everywhere," but acknowledges that it hasn't diminished their love—yet. In fact, she even derives a good deal of excitement from it: "I'm living in ecstasy." Still, we realize—and she surely does as well—that such a relationship can't last forever. The excitement and thrill will wear thin after a while, leaving behind only smashed china, pandemonium's broken remains.

As one of my site visitors has astutely noted, the pandemonium described in this song isn't merely of the physical sort that can be witnessed first-hand by others. It also refers to the inner turmoil—not to mention the "ecstasy"—that the narrator experiences in this relationship, including the way her lover makes her do things she never thought possible (such as "telling perfect strangers that I love you"). This has made me realize that the song may be seen as a latter-day, more extreme cousin to "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing," the narrator of which has similarly been swung for a loop by love.

Like "Beautiful People," this track features harmonica, confirmed by Neil in an interview as having again been contributed by Johnny Marr. The Boys have stated that they originally wrote "Pandemonium" for Kylie Minogue, but she rejected it as well as several other songs they had offered. (I had no idea she was so picky!) Once they decided to include it on Yes they briefly considered nicking its title for the album itself, but then decided against it. As it turns out, they saved it for their subsequent tour and the resulting live album. I get the distinct feeling that Neil and Chris are quite pleased that they kept the song for themselves.



Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references