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The Pet Shop Boys, China and “Thursday”

The Pet Shop Boys, China and “Thursday”

The second-best latest Pet Shop Boys song, Thursday, has just had its video published. Which essentially consists of static footage of the Pet Shop Boys singing mocked up onto billboards in Shanghai.

While the venn diagram of people who love the Pet Shop Boys songs, critique videos and have a vague understanding of Chinese culture may well be just me and Ian Fenn, I would like to point out one (in my mind) flaw:

– There is no Thursday in China. Or Wednesday, Tuesday or Friday for that matter. (You just count days of the week in Chinese – or at least, I do. So when we say Thursday, the Chinese equivalent is “the fourth day”)

Also. Really? Gawping at Chinese billboards and Chinese urban people doing their thing? Aside from it being creatively lazy, didn’t everyone do that in the 1980s with Blade Runner? Why aren’t people bored of this by now?

The same argument goes for Skyfall, which has an entire section set in Shanghai for no real apparent reason other than it’s so “now”. Daniel Craig didn’t even shoot any scenes there…

However, let it be known that the song is many shades of awesome, and should be listened to, loved, and cherished. Although anyone who says that this song is better than Love Is A Bourgeouis Construct needs their ears examining… and why they didn’t make a video for it, is anyone’s guess…

Michael Gove wants to make money – and music – from academies!

Michael Gove wants to make money – and music – from academies!

He even manages to quote the Pet Shop Boys in this Hansard release:

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): Where will these unqualified teachers be required to teach? I have here the document containing the Government’s list of places where they want free schools to be able to open without any planning permission. It includes hairdressers, travel agencies, sandwich bars, dry cleaners, undertakers and—you could not make this up, Mr Speaker—pet shops. Actually, the Secretary of State and the schools Minister, the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr Gibb), looks a bit like the Pet Shop Boys, but does their vision of 21st century schools really consist of our children being educated in the abandoned premises of “Reptiles Я Us”?

Michael Gove: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that well rehearsed question. I know that he is a brilliant musician, but in the words of the Pet Shop Boys, he’s got the brains and I’ve got the looks, and together—I suspect—we could make lots of money.

Who said our politicians are out of touch?

(spotted on Twitter by @imnotscared)

The trouble with co-habitation #41

The trouble with co-habitation #41

is that when HyperHam says she wants to go to a two-day musical theatre festival in the heart of what we call London, we go to said musical theatre festival.

Thus meaning, the news about a vintage computer orgy with OMD as the headline act completely passed me by. As did the news about the Pet Shop Boys playing Glastonbury.

But then, of course, with a wedding fast approaching and speeches needing to be written, an awful lot is passing me by these days. Bah.

Quite possibly the best new Pet Shop Boys song of the moment…

Quite possibly the best new Pet Shop Boys song of the moment…

Throbbing beats that can’t be ignored, and a lovely heart-felt lyric. Straight from 1981 (or thereabout…)

Of course, you may prefer the cynical but hopefully romantic lyrics that the Pet Shop Boys are more justly famed for:

Fandoms combining…

Fandoms combining…

In an era where fanfic writers think nothing of plonking the Red Dwarf crew on the Starship Enterprise, or the cast of Spaced in the TARDIS, it shouldn’t really come as that much of a surprise when professional media creators do the same thing.

Thus today, where we discover that Richard Curtis (famed romantic comedy writer behind Love Actually, Four Weddings, Blackadder and the superb and under-rated The Tall Guy) is writing a script for Doctor Who. This has met with a little consternation.

Of course, their fear comes from the possibility that romance might rear its ugly head in Doctor Who. It should, of course, be pointed out that:
– Richard Curtis, for all his faults, is a master at creating characters you like. Albeit middle-class English ones, of various hues and abilities.
– Pretty much all of Steven Moffat‘s celebrated scripts for Doctor Who have had huge dollops of romance in them. Doctor Who fans and Hugo Award adjudicators have lapped them up in their droves.

The news that the Pet Shop Boys have written a song for Shirley Bassey‘s new album also sent my geek fandom radar into overdrive. The Pet Shop Boys write fantastic songs – but let’s face it, Shirley Bassey‘s got a much more powerful voice that deserves to be used.

ITV, you're doing online video wrong…

ITV, you're doing online video wrong…

With the Pet Shop Boys being given a Outstanding Contribution to Music award at The Brits, I thought I’d look at ITV’s Brits website just to see what behind the scenes content they had. To be fair, they had a reasonable range of content, but it was all let down by the following:

  • It took four clicks from The Brits homepage to get to the page I wanted – even though it was prominently advertised on the front page.
  • See that cunning play icon overlaid on the main picture of the Pet Shop Boys on this page? Click it, and wait forever for the pic to change to a video … before realising that the video is being played in ANOTHER window on the right hand side of the page.
  • Then keep waiting as an entire minute of adverts is played out before your eyes before you even get to the main feature. At least other commercial TV websites like Hulu only play one advert lasting 30 seconds.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if you were watching a thirty minute programme … but all this for a clip lasting three minutes?

The trouble with ITV’s approach to online video is that it seems to show a breath-taking arrogance for ignoring the way online video has been built up till now on other platforms, with a determination to do it their way. From YouTube to Hulu to iPlayer, people now expect when you’re clicking on a play icon, that the video will play where the play icon was, not on another window on the other side of the screen. Trying to establish a different user interface for the sake of it just seems incredibly daft, if not arrogant. We’re living in a world where 37% of 15-24 year-olds say they mostly hear music via YouTube. The corporate world is littered with the corpses of once mighty companies who didn’t notice when little minnows slowly took away their audience.

Oh, and why is Kylie hosting with James Corden? It’s almost as inanely dull and self-consciously zany as the Samantha Fox/Mick Fleetwood pairing…

Pet Shop Boys – you need love…

Pet Shop Boys – you need love…

The new Pet Shop Boys single. It’s fab. For the following reasons:

– It’s going to be fab at concerts, hearing fans scream back the various call-and-beck lines
– Lyrically, it’s an age-old theme but with the typical Pet Shop Boys twist
– It’s catchy as hell. Did I mention that?
– Love Etc. – I mean, could there be a more Pet Shop Boys title?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsYzsV4RzdE&hl=en&fs=1]

A TV news ident that sounds like the Pet Shop Boys…

A TV news ident that sounds like the Pet Shop Boys…

Maybe it’s intensely wrong of me, but …

Whilst doing some random surfing, I found myself listening to the BBC London News ident. Thus I suddenly found myself on my desk grooving to it a la Tyres O’Flaherty in Spaced, as if it was the latest groovy Pet Shop Boys tune … can you spot the similarity, or is that just me?

Perhaps it’s an unconscious yearning to listen to some more Pet Shop Boys music. I did also find myself humming along to Jack The Lad the other day, which is not the most cheerful Pet Shop Boys song ever.

There was even a series of concerts the Pet Shop Boys did a couple of weeks ago – but nobody seems to have gone, or at least raved about it to me or told me how fab it was. Maybe it was exactly the same set as the 2006 summer concerts – but no-one’s told me yet. Although to be fair, I haven’t looked for that information anywhere beyond my email and RSS feeds… did you go?

42 years of Top of the Pops, and no Pet Shop Boys ?!

42 years of Top of the Pops, and no Pet Shop Boys ?!

So after 42 years, the UK’s premiere music show, Top Of The Pops, comes to an unfortunate, if not entirely unexpected end.

But amongst the lineup of 42 years of pop highlights, from the Rolling Stones to Robbie Williams, they couldn’t find the time (even though they covered the 80s and 90s in detail) to even put in a little snippet from the Pet Shop Boys, the second-best double act of all time behind Lennon & McCartney.

But to the delight of Miss R (and her continued gloating), one of her preferred pop stars made it into the 1990s pop montage. James chuffin’ Blunt. I know that Geoff, a man of usual impeccable taste in music loves Blunt, so it could just be me. But really, does one man who needs a shave with *one* hit single to his name (that admittedly everyone in the whole damned world can hum by now) deserve to be in a 1990s pop montage, while leaving out a group with 38 Top 40 hits to their name – indeed they even went into the top 40 this week.

Mind you, it says a lot of the final status of Top Of The Pops that they had to close with a music video featuring a South American singer, when the preferred option would have been a live performance from a boy-band with guitars covering a 1970s Queen classic.

I get excited, you get excited too…

I get excited, you get excited too…

I was musing recently that little in film or music gets me truly excited these days.

Then I pick up a copy of Word Magazine featuring the Pet Shop Boys – a fantastic multi-page interview with the pop geniuses that makes me genuinely excited about the new forthcoming album, and even manages to connect the Pet Shop Boys to Doctor Who. (According to them, David Tennant took his stage name from Neil Tennant. Although it could just as easily have been Emma Tennant!)

Beyond the Pets, the magazine also has fantastic articles about the death of Smash Hits, great well-written reviews and reads like it’s been written by a bunch of enthusiastic journalists. It’s a little high-brow and “old” for my tastes, but finally I have a magazine that is just a little beyond reach of my current cultural experience (as opposed to way out there) that is just encouraging enough to want me to raise my cultural horizons a little. It’s an older version of Entertainment Weekly – or Heat magazine when it was *my* magazine before it went down-market and girly and sold shedloads.

Then this morning, I get the fantabulous news that the Pet Shop Boys are to gig. In a forest. and woo-hoo, there’s something FANTASTIC to look forward to. And here I am emailing my various friends hoping that they’re as excited as I am and we all get to hang out in some forest at the end of July.

Are you with me?