For Your Own Good: The Top 10 Pet Shop Boys Songs

It’s been a while since I did a top 10 list: PSB’s synthy sound made them hitmakers in the ’80s, but as hip-hop and grunge swelled in the ’90s, they settled into cult/club hero status.

No matter, a lot of their best work came after Neil Tennant began to sprout grey hair. He and “brawny” partner-in-crime Chris Lowe traded in their ironic distance for a more direct sincerity – without giving up their savage, relentless wit or their cheeky theatricality.

Musically, they were much more adventurous, too – referencing Rio, American hip-hop, straight rock, film scores, the list goes on.

OK, this list is purely personal. Although, every time I look at it, I think, “How can I work ‘Rent’ in there? ‘Left To My Own Devices’? ‘It’s a Sin’ and ‘King’s Cross’ for goodness’ sakes!” I will say that I’m satisfied that these would rank in my, say, Top 20 on any given day.

10. “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” – My ringtone. ‘Nuff said.

9. “Red Letter Day” – “Like Christmas morning, when you’re a kid/Admit you love me and you always did.” That lyric always gets me.

8. “Discoteca” – One of PSB’s darkest, most atmospheric pieces, part of their Brazilian-influenced Bilingual album.

7. “Go West” – Turned a campy Village People song into something really moving.

6. & 5. “Being Boring” and “My October Symphony” – I couldn’t decide between these two Behaviour tracks, Neil Tennant’s ruminations on the toll AIDS was taking at the time. Together, these songs celebrated memory and mourning, history and hope.

4. “Love Comes Quickly” – The underrated early treasure. Tennant’s sexiest vocal performance.

3. “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” – two decades after her Bacharach/Memphis heyday, PSB gave the legendary Dusty Springfield a hit worthy of her incomparable discography.

2. “For Your Own Good” – On one level, it’s a party song done the PSB way, filled with desire (“You need a lover/it’s so cold outside”) and wailing black female voices.

1. “Dreaming of the Queen” – Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana make appearances in this almost unbearably emotional song that once again depicts the sadness of AIDS. “There were no more lovers left alive/That’s why love has died/Yes, it’s true/Look, it’s happened to me and you.” The best song from their best album, Very.

Which songs would make your list?

In other news:

  • Despite Mel C.‘s protestations to the contrary, The Sun‘s reporting a Spice Girls TV reunion special.
  • Kelly Osbourne tells The Sun that her friend Amy Winehouse is flying out all her mates to L.A. for a belated “hen night.”
  • Amy Winehouse‘s beehive has grown about a foot. What are you hiding up there, Ames? A pint of lager and a bag of crisps? Your unborn child?
    (Daily Mail)
  • Simon Webbe reportedly “removed his shirt” at the first show of his tour, as he often does. OK, when Simon Webbe takes off his shirt, you provide photographic evidence.(The Sun)
  • Big Brother bosses will introduce a “veil-wearing ‘burka babe’” as a houseguest. Have they learned nothing from Shilpa Shetty?(Daily Star)
  • The Mirror hits it out of the park with this headline: “‘I WANT BRAIN OP’ JADE [GOODY] wants surgeons to rewire her brain to stop her being so stupid.”
  • Victoria Beckham got “stopped” by the police while filming her reality show.(Daily Mail)
  • David and Victoria say they won’t only hang out with Hollywood superstars: they’ll even stoop down to *gasp* consorting with other players and their wives.(Mirror)
  • Wayne Rooney‘s WAG, Coleen McLoughlin, will play fairy godmother to would-be fashionistas in a new TV series.(Mirror)
  • EastEnders has axed a plot that included a child kidnapping, in light of the highly publicized Madeleine McCann case.
  • Orlando Bloom is now a West End boy: he’ll star in a revival of In Celebration.(BBC)
  • The Maccabees, Lucy Griffiths‘ favorite band, released their debut U.S. album yesterday and will have a supporting tour. Scenestars has all of their videos.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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