Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Suburbia" by Pet Shop Boys

Song#:  2954
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  70
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This duo's debut album Please was a platinum seller thanks to three Pop chart entries, which included the #1 "West End Girls" and the #10 "Opportunities." Feeling that there may still be some gas left in the tank, their label decided to remix this album track and push it out as a fourth single. Unfortunately, it didn't get very far. It stopped in the lower reaches of the Pop chart while only getting to #36 at Dance. It would do much better in their UK homeland where the single became their second Top 10 there (#8).

ReduxReview:  I like how the happy sounding chorus of this song plays against the darker verses. I'm sure that was intentional - trying to cover up the ugly underbelly of suburbia with some kind of fake positive spin. Musically, Pet Shop Boys' songs are fairly simple (and I don't mean that in a bad way). Their chords and progressions are not complicated and their melodies are lovely and easy to latch on to. However, because of that I think their lyrics often get overlooked. They are often sharp, witty, or poignant. Their view of a riotous suburb and its disconnected youth is front and center on this track. It's a good song and one that wasn't too bad of a choice for a single. It just came out a bit late in the LP's cycle and couldn't attract attention.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  On the back sleeve of this single, it stated that the song "was partly inspired by the film Suburbia." That 1984 movie was produced by Roger Corman and written/directed by Penelope Spheeris. It was Spheeris' first film following her acclaimed 1981 documentary about the L.A. punk scene The Decline of Western Civilization. She used elements of the punk lifestyle as inspiration for the fictional Suburbia. She even hired on a few punk musicians for roles instead of actors, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea. The film focused on a group of runaway punk kids who end up living together in abandoned homes in suburban L.A. While it wasn't necessarily a box office hit, it did fairly well with critics and has since become a bit of a cult flick. Spheeris would go on to do two sequels to The Decline of Western Civilization and in 1992 would score a big mainstream hit directing the Mike Myers/Dana Carvey SNL skit-inspired comedy Wayne's World.


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