Saturday, November 13, 2021

"Domino Dancing" by Pet Shop Boys

Song#:  3673
Date:  10/08/1988
Debut:  71
Peak:  18
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance, Latin Freestyle

Pop Bits:  The British duo had their peak moment in the US when two songs from their 1987 second album Actually reached the Top 10 followed by a standalone single, a remake of "Always on My Mind," that also followed suit getting to #4. With their popularity high and their label anxious to push out new material, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe decided to create a transition album of sorts. For Introspective, they flipped the standard release format of short tracks on the album and long remixes reserved for singles. Instead, Introspective contained six long remix-styled tracks while the singles selected for release got edited and spruced up for radio-friendly airplay. As such, singles like this first one were different from what appeared on the album. It was a bit of a gamble to change things up in this manner following a string of hits and in the end it didn't necessarily pay off well. While this first single got to #5 at Dance, it could only do a Top 20 showing at Pop while reaching #22 at Alt Rock. The results didn't fully spark album sales and it would top out at #34. Eventually it would go gold, but it slowed the duo's momentum in the States. In fact, this single would prove to be their last Top 40 entry. Back in the UK, the album did much better hitting #2 and going double-platinum with this single making it to #7.

ReduxReview:  Like some other fans, Introspective caught me off guard. I wasn't sure what to make of this remix style approach. I wasn't really into dance music and remixes at the time, so I was a bit disappointed that I got six dance tracks rather than the more unique pop/dance confections found on their first two LPs. Plus, the singles were different than what was on the album, so if you wanted those versions you had to buy the singles. At the time I thought it might be the end of my time liking PSB, but then they put out the brilliant Behavior in 1990 and that sealed the deal for me as a lifelong fan. These days I understand Introspective more and I do like it. It is not one of my favorites from them, but it is also not one of my least favorites. This single was timely with its freestyle sound and it seemed like it was catching on, but then stalled just inside the Top 20. Looking back that seems like an appropriate outcome as it just wasn't quite as memorable as their bigger hits. Still, it was a different sound for the duo and it fit them well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With this song, the Pet Shop Boys flirted with the Latin freestyle sound that was beginning to take over the chart. To enhance that feel, the duo went to Miami and worked with producer Lewis A. Martineé, who had been having great success with the female vocal trio Exposé. Not long before PSB worked with Martineé, he had been co-writing and producing a couple of singles by a trio called The Voice in Fashion. The male trio first began in 1985 as The Voice, but then hooked up with Martineé and had a name change. Their first single with Martineé, 1987's "Only in the Night" became a #8 Dance hit. The following year "Give Me Your Love" got to #29 Dance. With the Martineé connection, the trio got to do the background vocals on this PSB track. It worked out well enough that the trio was invited to do some tour stints with PSB, but they unfortunately didn't have time in their schedule. They would end up going their separate ways in 1992.


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