Monday, February 06, 2006

There are no more lovers left alive; no one has survived

First earning mainstream success in the mid-to-late '80s, Pet Shop Boys are giants in the electro-pop world, and after 20+ years, they're still feeding devoted fans and dance aficionados their combination of carefully crafted synthpop and smart lyrics. The duo of Neil Tennant (vocalist, lyricist, and keyboard player) and Chris Lowe (keyboards) hit number one around the world with the sophisticated half spoken/half sung "West End Girls," and other hits followed like "Opportunities" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" which featured guest vocals from Dusty Springfield. The aloof, slightly nasal vocals from Tennant and the cheerfully artificial synth arrangements mark the Pet Shop Boys' catalog, and they've been able to shift and adapt enough to endure in the capricious realm of dance music. In 2001, Pet Shop Boys had ambitious plans for a festival tour, called Wotapalava, that would feature gay musicians including the Magnetic Fields, but the plans were scrapped after headliner Sinead O'Connor backed out. The band created a score (released last year) for the 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin, a film school necessity, and they performed it at a live screening in Trafalgar Square in September of 2004. This spring, they plan on releasing a new album, entitled Fundamental.

After the release of Very in 1993, Tennant came out, and not surprisingly, the band is popular among the gay community. However, like Merritt, Tennant often writes lyrics that are intended to be of an ambiguous sexuality, though some have particular resonance with gay listeners. One such song is "Being Boring," which Tennant has stated was written about a friend who was dying of AIDS. In it, he reflects on earlier times when he'd "bolted through a closing door" before singing "...all the people I was kissing, some are here and some are missing." The song's title comes from an essay written by Zelda Fitzgerald called "Eulogy on the Flapper," in which Fitzgerald wrote on the titular figure: "...she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring."

In Chickfactor #11, Merritt named Tennant as being "the best lyricist in an electropop group," along with himself and Gary Numan, and he and Claudia Gonson have repeatedly asked him to be a singer for the 6ths (to no avail, so far). As Gonson explains, Pet Shop Boys were highly influential for Future Bible Heroes, and she speaks specifically about Memories of Love in Chickfactor #10:

"I think it's largely influenced by the Pet Shop Boys - it's kind of a Pet Shop Boys meets Martin Denny kind of thing. I give it the Bananarama treatment, and Stephin gives it the vernacular Neil Tennant treatment."

"Dreaming of the Queen," which was Merritt's pick for 1993, comes from the album Very, and it's about a peculiar dream involving having tea with Lady Di and the Queen, contemplating "why love had died." Also included this week is the forementioned "Being Boring" in its single form, taken from the compilation Discography.

Pet Shop Boys - "Dreaming of the Queen"
Pet Shop Boys - "Being Boring"

Shifting gears a bit...
Magnetic Fields vocalist ld beghtol will be writing a book about 69 Love Songs, and he is making an open request for "anecdotes, images, and other stuff related to the record, its songs and how it's affected people's lives/art/etc." - this also goes for live performances of 69LS. If you'd like to contribute something, contact him at this address: tmf69lovesongs at aol dawt cawm


Blogger Rusty said...

Speaking of keyboard-based pop, any clue as to Stephin's take on Erasure? The only thing I know is that once, between songs at a show, he and Claudia were goofing on their song "Always," but they've done this for people they like too.

My take? I think they're about the best keyboard-based band there is, along with me.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

I don't know for sure, but I'd probably bet money that he digs 'em...they did that ABBA cover thingie, after all.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you put up 'I Am sitting in a Room' by Lucier again? I've been looking for it everywhere. Thanks!


6:15 AM  
Blogger Ernest said...

Michelle: No problem - just check the latest post for links.

1:14 AM  

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