Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2642
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut: 71
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance

Pop Bits:  The two people who make up the duo Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, first met in a London electronics store. The pair shared an interest in dance music and it wasn't long before they were working on their own material. Both were fans of American dance music producer/artist Bobby Orlando (aka Bobby O) and when Tennant got an opportunity to travel to New York, he sought out Orlando. Orlando listened to the duo's demos and decided to work with them. He produced several songs including one titled "West End Girls." It was pushed out to clubs in various cities and it ended up being local club hit in L.A. and San Francisco. Two more songs were released, but nothing much came of them. The duo then parted ways with Orlando and signed on with Parlophone Records. They connected with producer Stephen Hague and re-recorded "West End Girls." Released in October of '85 in the UK, the song started slow but eventually it would take off and reach #1. The hit then crossed the pond and followed suit hitting #1 at both Pop and Dance. It also got to #26 AC, #36 R&B, and #37 Rock. The duo then quickly got their debut album, Please, recorded and pushed out. It would be a #7 platinum hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  This track was certainly unusual back in the day. Initially, I'm not sure what people knew what to make of Tennant rapping/singing Euro-centric lyrics in his British accent over slick dance beats and sophisti-pop synths. Yet there was something totally alluring about the track and it just became irresistible. Hague knew exactly what to do with this song and his production was key in making this a hit. Because this song was so unusual, it could have easily made Pet Shop Boys one-hit wonders, but luckily they had solid material to follow it up and they would return to the Top 10 four more times. By the time their second album arrived, I knew I'd be a life-long fan.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Initially, the duo called themselves West End. They would later change that to Pet Shop Boys. The name stems from some friends who worked in a pet shop, hence they were the pet shop boys. The duo liked the name because it sounded like an English rap group. 2) Bobby Orlando was one of the most prolific producers of dance music in the late 70s and 80s. He had his own label, "O" Records, which allowed him to write, produce, and release hundreds of dance tracks. Orlando was one of the first producers whose music was being associated with the Hi-NRG genre. Since his music was more club oriented, Orlando didn't have any big mainstream hits. However, he did have quite a few that did well on the Dance chart. He developed a female vocal trio with a revolving lineup called The Flirts and seven of their Orlando-written/produced tracks hit the US Dance chart including the 1985 #1 "You & Me." Orlando was also known for his work with infamous drag queen/film star Divine, which included the club hits "Native Love (Step By Step)" and "Shoot Your Shot." Orlando also grabbed for the spotlight himself and under the moniker Bobby O, he hit the Dance chart three times with 1982's "She Has a Way" doing the best getting to #10. After a decade of recording tracks, Orlando closed up "O" Records and left the music industry. Apparently, he went to law school and wrote an anti-evolution theory book in 1987 titled Darwin Destroyed. Later in the 90s, he briefly started a new label titled Reputation Records and since 2010 he has recorded several albums as Bobby O on his Bobco Music Inc. label.


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