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Pet Shop Boys are a British electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboard and occasionally guitar and Chris Lowe on keyboards and occasionally on vocals.

Pet Shop Boys have sold about 100 million records worldwide.. Since 1986, they have had 42 Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK, including four Number Ones: "West End Girls," "It's a Sin," "Always on My Mind," and "Heart."

At the 2009 BRIT Awards, Pet Shop Boys received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. The duo's latest album, entitled Yes, was released on 23 March 2009.

Musical history

Formation and early years (1981–1984)

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in an electronics shop on Kings Roadmarker in Chelseamarker, Londonmarker in August 1981. Recognising a mutual interest in dance music, they began to work on material together, first in Tennant's flat in Chelsea and from 1982, in a small studio, in Camden Townmarker. It was during these early years that several songs that would later appear on future albums were created, including "It's a Sin," "West End Girls," "Rent," and "Jealousy."

Starting out, the two called themselves West End, because of their love of London's West Endmarker, but later they came up with the name Pet Shop Boys, which derived from some friends who worked in a pet shop, in Ealingmarker. They said that the new name "sounded like an English rap group."

Their big break came in August 1983, when Tennant was assigned by Smash Hits to interview The Police in New York. The duo were obsessed with a stream of Hi-NRG records, made by New York producer Bobby Orlando, simply known as Bobby 'O'. According to Tennant: "I thought: well, if I've got to go and see The Police play, then I'm also going to have lunch with Bobby 'O'." They shared a cheeseburger and carrot cake, at a restaurant called the Apple Jack, on 19 August (two years to the day since Tennant and Lowe had met) and Orlando suggested making a record with Pet Shop Boys, after hearing a demo tape that Tennant had taken with him. In April 1984, the Orlando-produced "West End Girls" was released, becoming a club hit in Los Angeles and San Franciscomarker. On 2 November it was voted "Screamer of the Week" by listeners of Long Islandmarker, New Yorkmarker radio station WLIR. Though the track did not do well in the UK, it was a minor hit in France and Belgium.

Signing with Parlophone: the debut album Please and the remix album Disco (1984–1986)

In March 1985, after long negotiations, Pet Shop Boys cut their contractual ties with Bobby 'O', with a settlement giving Bobby 'O' significant royalties for future sales. Hiring manager Tom Watkins, they signed with the London-based Parlophone label. In April, Tennant left Smash Hits (where he had progressed to the position of deputy editor) and in July, a new single, "Opportunities ," was released, reaching number 116 in the UK. The B-side to this single, "In the Night," later resurfaced, in a longer remixed version, as the opening track to the duo's first remix album, Disco, in 1986. This version was also used as the theme for the UK television series The Clothes Show.

Unperturbed by the low chart position, the band returned to the studio in August to re-record "West End Girls" with producer Stephen Hague. Released in October 1985, this new version initially entered the charts at a similarly low position, but began a slow rise, so that, by January 1986, it achieved the top spot. It was subsequently Number One in the USA, Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Lebanonmarker, Israelmarker, New Zealand and Norway and sold an estimated 1.5 million copies worldwide. It remains the most-heard Pet Shop Boys song to date.

After the success of "West End Girls," Pet Shop Boys released a follow-up single, "Love Comes Quickly," on 24 February 1986. The single reached number 19 in the UK Singles Chart and was followed by their debut album, Please, on 24 March. In June 1986, the band announced a European tour; however, their plans for a theatrical extravaganza proved to be too expensive and the tour was cancelled. Please started Pet Shop Boys' penchant for choosing one-word album titles, which Neil Tennant has since stated is now a Pet Shop Boys "signature thing", akin to e.e. cummings' use of exclusively lower case letters. New versions of second single "Opportunities " and album track "Suburbia" were also released in 1986, followed by a remix album, Disco, in November.

"Imperial phase" with Actually, the four UK Number 1s and the movie It Couldn't Happen Here (1987–1988)

1987 started with Pet Shop Boys receiving both BRIT Awards and Ivor Novello Awards for "West End Girls". Later, on 15 June, they released what became their second Number One single, "It's a Sin." The single caused some controversy: Neil's school, St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, in Newcastle-Upon-Tynemarker, chastised him in the press, while Jonathan King accused them of plagiarising the Cat Stevens song Wild World. Pet Shop Boys later sued King and won damages, which were donated to charity. The video to "It's a Sin" also saw their first collaboration with director Derek Jarman.

The continued success of "It's a Sin" was followed by the release of "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," on 10 August. Co-written with Allee Willis and also featuring Dusty Springfield on vocals, the single reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Although the duo had wanted to release this track on their debut album already, they had been unable to track down Springfield and were reluctant to record it with any other female singer, despite their record company's suggestions. Springfield's manager finally contacted them in 1987, following the release of Please and towards the end of that year, she travelled to London to record "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" with them. It was the first track to be recorded for the duo's second album. Pet Shop Boys had been told that Springfield was "difficult" to work with and even that she could no longer sing; however, her performance on the track put any such concerns to rest and they began a collaboration with her, which lasted until the end of the decade. Included on their then forthcoming second album Actually, the song became a massive worldwide hit and resurrected Springfield's career, leading to her 1990 album, Reputation, on which Pet Shop Boys were major contributing producers. This duet was also the start of a series of collaborations with high profile musicians, going on throughout the band's career.

Also in August 1987, Pet Shop Boys appeared on Love Me Tender, a UK television programme, on ITV, commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. They were asked to perform one of their favourite Elvis tracks and they narrowed it down to two options, "Baby Let's Play House" and "Always on My Mind," eventually settling on the latter. Curiously enough, their Presley cover would later be re-released in a 12" version, consisting of a medley, along with an acid house track by the duo, entitled "In My House." This extended version, consistently called "Always on My Mind"/"In My House," would later be included on Pet Shop Boys' 1988 album, Introspective, with the 12" medley attached to the vinyl edition of their Actually album and only marketed in the United States in such double release. 7 September 1987 indeed saw the release of the duo's second studio album, Actually, followed by the single "Rent" in October, which reached number 8 in the UK. The final song on the album, "King's Cross," was revealed to have a strange prescience, when there was a fatal fire at the London underground section of the station, in November of that year (part of the lyrics read: "Dead and wounded on either side/You know it's only a matter of time"). The Sun newspaper in the UK subsequently tried to get the track released as a charity single, but Pet Shop Boys would not allow this.

Towards the end of 1987, Pet Shop Boys started work on an hour-long film, that would incorporate the songs from Actually. Working with director Jack Bond, the short film grew into a full-scale movie, It Couldn't Happen Here, starring Barbara Windsor, Joss Ackland and Gareth Hunt. The film was eventually released in 1988 to mixed reviews. Footage from the film was also used for the music video to "Always on My Mind," now released as a single on 30 November; it became both the duo's third Number One single in the UK and the Christmas number one single for 1987, infamously beating out "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues.

1988 started with another collaboration. Patsy Kensit's band, Eighth Wonder, had the song "I'm Not Scared" written and produced for them by Pet Shop Boys. The song became her biggest hit single and Pet Shop Boys included their own extended version of the track on their Introspective mini-album. March 1988 saw the duo achieve their fourth UK Number One single (and their last to date), with a remixed edit of "Heart," different from the album version. This single version would be included in their first greatest hits album, Discography: The Complete Singles Collection, whereas the album version would be used for their second retrospective, the double Pop Art: Pet Shop Boys - The Hits. The video to the single, directed by Jack Bond, was a retelling of the Dracula story, starring Ian McKellen as the vampire who steals Neil Tennant's fictitious wife. It was seen to be extremely ironic, since McKellen was a well-known gay figure at the time (he came out in the 1988) .

Introspective, Behaviour, the Performance tour, Discography, and "The Crying Game" (1988–1992)

In the 1996 BBC Radio 1 documentary About Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant noted that their "Imperial Phase" ended in 1988. On 12 September 1988, Pet Shop Boys released a brand new single, "Domino Dancing" and in the documentary Neil recounts his disappointment when hearing the news that the single had reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. He felt that their major success was now over and that it was going to be a challenge to remain successful going forward.

The duo's third studio album, Introspective, was released on . This was in fact a 6-track mini-album and was followed by the Trevor Horn-produced Top-5 single "Left to My Own Devices," and a cover version of the Sterling Void single "It's Alright," in 1989. 1989 also saw the start of Pet Shop Boys' first tour ever, in which they performed in Hong Kong, Japan, and Britainmarker. The tour followed the ideas of the extravaganza that could not have been afforded earlier in their careers. Derek Jarman returned to direct the performance and he provided several films that were projected during the shows.

On 24 September 1990, a new single, "So Hard," was released, reaching #4 in the UK and Pet Shop Boys' fourth studio album followed, on 22 October 1990. Entitled Behaviour, it was recorded in Munichmarker, with producer Harold Faltermeyer. The album was never intended to be a dramatic change in mood to their earlier albums; However, it is noticeably subdued. It included the fan-favourite "Being Boring," the second single from the album, which, despite being a fan favorite, only reached #20 in the UK Singles Chart, their lowest placing at the time. The song was inspired by a quote by Zelda Fitzgerald: "...she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring," and was widely thought to be a commentary on the AIDS epidemic. The music video was directed by film-maker Bruce Weber. By this time, the duo had also parted ways with manager Tom Watkins, replacing him with Jill Carrington.

In March 1991, a cover of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" as a medley with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," the 1960s pop song by Frankie Valli/The Four Seasons, was released as a double a-sided single, with a remix of the album track, "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?" by Brothers In Rhythm. This was followed by the duo's first world tour. Named Performance, the tour kicked off in Tokyo, on 11 March 1991. The tour also visited the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakiamarker, Austria, Hungarymarker, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The shows were designed by David Alden and David Fielding, who had designed several sets for the London Opera Housemarker. Before taking a break in 1992, Pet Shop Boys released, in 1991, an 18-track compilation commonly referred to as Discography, which included all of their single releases up to then, two new singles, "DJ Culture" and "Was It Worth It?," and only omitted "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?" (although it did appear on the video companion called Videography). While "DJ Culture" had a fair success, "Was Is Worth It? became the duo's very first single to miss the UK Top 20 since their two Bobby 'O' debut singles.

During this period, Pet Shop Boys continued to collaborate with many high-profile musicians. They worked again with Dusty Springfield, on the singles "Nothing Has Been Proved" (which was a song written for their soundtrack for the film Scandal about the Profumo political scandal in Britainmarker) and "In Private." The duo later went on to produce half of the tracks on her 1990 solo Reputation album. Pet Shop Boys were also asked to write and produce an album for Liza Minnelli, in 1989. The album, Results, generated four singles, including the hit single "Losing My Mind," a cover version of the Stephen Sondheim song. The duo's own version of this appeared on their "Jealousy" single as a B-side. Neil Tennant also worked with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr on their first album as Electronic, whose first single, "Getting Away with It," co-written and co-produced by Neil Tennant himself, was released on 4 December 1989. Later, in 1991, Lowe also contributed to the Electronic project, by working on the track "The Patience of a Saint," for their 1991 album. Finally; in 1992, Tennant sang lead vocals on their non-album single "Disappointed," which was featured on the soundtrack to the movie Cool World. In addition, a remix of "So Hard," by notorious electronic music duo The KLF, released as a separate single, led to Tennant re-recording his vocals for the song entirely.

Pet Shop Boys set up the Spaghetti Records label in 1991. Their most successful release was the soundtrack to the 1992 film The Crying Game, which featured Boy George performing the title song "The Crying Game." The song was produced by Pet Shop Boys and featured Tennant on backing vocals. Other artists on the label included Scottish singer Cicero, The Ignorants, and Masterboy.

The Very era: Very, "Absolutely Fabulous," Disco 2 and the Alternative B-sides album (1993–1995)

In June 1993, Pet Shop Boys infamously re-invented their image and made a strong return to the UK Singles Chart with "Can You Forgive Her?." Taking its title from the Anthony Trollope novel of the same name, the single reached number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, while its iconic music video featured the duo in orange body suits and tall dunce caps, in a world of computer-generated imagery. The theme was continued with the follow-up single, often considered as their signature song, a cover of the Village People single "Go West," which reached number 2 in the UK, with another computer-generated music video, this time inspired by the Soviet Unionmarker. The duo's fifth studio album, Very, followed on 27 September and is the only Pet Shop Boys album to ever reach Number One on the UK Albums Chart. It was produced by Pet Shop Boys and mixed with additional production by Stephen Hague, who had produced their first album and subsequently produced records by OMD, New Order and Erasure. The other singles from Very, "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing," "Liberation," and "Yesterday, When I Was Mad," continued the theme of computer-generated videos, peaking with the "Liberation" video, which contained almost no real-life elements at all. All these videos were directed by Howard Greenhalgh, who continued to work with Pet Shop Boys well into the next decade. Very was also released in a limited edition to include an entirely new album, Relentless, which was composed of six all new heavy dance tracks, with a darker tone to the perky Very.

In 1994, Pet Shop Boys offered to remix fellow Parlophone act Blur's single "Girls & Boys;" it was a club hit throughout Europe and started a sporadic trend for Pet Shop Boys to remix other artists' music. Also in 1994, Pet Shop Boys released the 1994 Comic Relief single, "Absolutely Fabulous." The song started when Tennant and Lowe were playing around with sample from the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous in the studio. They wanted to release a single, so approached lead actors Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley and suggested releasing it as a charity single. The single was released under the artist name of 'Absolutely Fabulous' too. Tennant and Lowe do not consider it as a Pet Shop Boys' single release and it was not included on any of their next best-of album. The video to the single featured clips from the sitcom, along with newly recorded footage of Tennant and Lowe with the characters of Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley).

On 12 September 1994, Pet Shop Boys released the follow-up to their 1986 remix album Disco, in the form of Disco 2. The album featured club remixes of the singles released from Very, in a continuous megamix by Danny Rampling. Then, in October, Pet Shop Boys began their Discovery tour, which would see them visit areas that they had never performed in before: Singaporemarker, Australia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombiamarker, Chilemarker, Argentinamarker and Brazilmarker. The following year, a new version of the 1986 B-side to "Suburbia," i.e. "Paninaro", was released to promote a B-side collection album, Alternative. The single, called "Paninaro '95," is based on the live version from the Discovery tour.

Bilingual, Nightlife and the musical Closer to Heaven (1996–2001)

In November 1995, Neil Tennant saw David Bowie live at Wembley Stadiummarker and met him backstage. Whilst discussing Bowie's recent album Outside, Tennant mentioned that his favourite track was "Hallo Spaceboy." Jokingly, Bowie said that Pet Shop Boys should remix the track and a week later, phoned Tennant asking for this to happen. The new version was completely re-recorded and featured Tennant on backing vocals, using additional lyrics from Bowie's first hit song, "Space Oddity." The single was released on 19 February 1996, with Pet Shop Boys joining Bowie to perform the song on the BRIT Awards and Top of the Pops.

In April, Pet Shop Boys released a new single, "Before," leading up to their forthcoming album; the single reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. That same month, Tina Turner also released her Wildest Dreams album, which featured Pet Shop Boys-produced track "Confidential." In August, Pet Shop Boys released a follow-up single, "Se a vida é ," a Latin American music-inspired track, featuring a drum sample from a track called "Estrada da paixão" by Brazilianmarker act Olodum. This preceded the sixth Pet Shop Boys album Bilingual, which was released in September. In December 1996, Neil appeared live with Suede, singing the Suede song "Saturday Night" as a duet with Brett Anderson and Pet Shop Boys track "Rent." Both live tracks were released with the Suede single "Filmstar," in July 1997.

Pet Shop Boys kicked off Summer 1997 with a sold-out three-week residency at the Savoy Theatremarker, in London, in June. Entitled Somewhere and being promoted by a cover version of the song "Somewhere" from the musical West Side Story, the shows used projections filmed by the artist Sam Taylor-Wood. Pet Shop Boys would later work with Sam Taylor-Wood again: in 1998, they recorded a version of "Je t'aime... moi non plus," originally by Serge Gainsbourg, with her and again in 2003, they covered the Donna Summer track "Love to Love You Baby," and gave it a limited edition release credited to Kiki Kokova, a pseudonym used by Taylor-Wood for this project.

The majority of 1998 was spent with a series of live dates and minor releases, including a charity album of Noel Coward songs, called Twentieth Century Blues. The album included Pet Shop Boys' version of "Sail Away," along with songs performed by Elton John, Texas, Marianne Faithfull, The Divine Comedy, Suede, Damon Albarn, Vic Reeves and Robbie Williams. Tennant also co-produced the Williams track and provided backing vocals for Elton John. Tennant also provided backing vocals on Robbie Williams' "No Regrets" single, along with Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy. Meanwhile, the band switched managers again as Carrington resigned and was succeeded by Mitch Clark, who had previously worked for EMI International as Head of Promotion.

During this time, Pet Shop Boys also began to work with playwright Jonathan Harvey on a stage musical project. In 1999, many of the tracks recorded ended up on the duo's seventh studio album, Nightlife, which also included the Top 20 singles "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More," "New York City Boy," and the Top 10 hit "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" — as well a duet with Kylie Minogue, "In denial," about a father (Tennant) coming out to his daughter (Minogue) and "Closer to Heaven," which would later become the title of Pet Shop Boys' musical. Minogue later performed the track live, during her 2005 Showgirl tour, singing to a pre-recorded Neil Tennant. This is not the first time that Pet Shop Boys have worked with Minogue: in 1994, they indeed wrote a song for inclusion on her eponymous Kylie Minogue album, called "Falling," which was based around an unreleased remix of "Go West" with new lyrics by Tennant; however, Minogue and her record company did not like the production sound of Pet Shop Boys' demo and asked Farley & Heller to finally produce the track.

1999 ended for the duo with a world tour, which continued well into 2000, this time with the stage sets designed by architect Zaha Hadid. The tour took them to the USA, Canada, Japan, Europe and the UK. In the Summer of 2000, they also played a series of festival dates in Europe, including a performance at the Glastonbury Festivalmarker, where they performed on the main stage, on Saturday night, at 9.30 pm, to a triumphant reception. In 2000, they won their third Ivor Novello Award, honouring their "Outstanding Contribution" to music. Throughout 2000, they continued to work on their musical and in May they started workshopping the project and finalising the plot and songs to be used.

The musical, Closer to Heaven, opened at the Arts Theatremarker in London, in 2001, with financial backing from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. Reviews were mixed and although the run was initially extended, it closed earlier than expected, due to poor ticket sales, in October 2001. Around the time of the London closure, Tennant said that they were in talks to take the musical to various locations in Europe (particularly Germany, which is a big market for Pet Shop Boys) and to take it to New York. Nothing further has been issued by Pet Shop Boys or Really Useful Group regarding these performances; in 2005, a series of performances were done in the Brisbane Powerhousemarker, Australia, though they were independent to Pet Shop Boys and the Really Useful Group.

Release, Disco 3, PopArt, Live 8, Back to Mine and Battleship Potemkin OST (2002–2005)

After the mixed fortunes of Closer to Heaven, Pet Shop Boys returned to the studio to start work on their eighth album. After toying with genres including hip hop, they went for a stripped back acoustic sound as a complete change to the over-the-top dance music of the musical. In 2002, they released the modestly successful album Release. Most of the tracks were produced by the duo themselves and many of the tracks featured Johnny Marr on guitar. The first single, "Home and Dry," featured a very peculiar video, directed by Wolfgang Tillmans, mostly consisting of raw camcorder footage of mice, filmed in the London Underground. The follow-up single, "I Get Along," had a video filmed by Bruce Weber and following this they embarked on another world tour, although this time it was a stripped back affair, with no dancers, backing singers, costumes or lavish sets. They used two extra guitarists, (Bic Hayes and Mark Refoy), a percussion (Dawne Adams) and regular programmer Pete Gleadall.

The Release tour took them first to several universities around the UK; not officially the Release tour, but entitled The University tour, these dates saw them perform at Bristol Universitymarker, Keele Universitymarker, University of East Angliamarker in Norwichmarker, University of Teessidemarker, Middlesbroughmarker and De Montfort Universitymarker, Leicestermarker. The proper Release tour then took them to Germany, USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, then another series of dates in the UK again, Switzerland and onto Japan, Singaporemarker, Hong Kong and then a first ever date in Thailandmarker as the final show, at the large Bangkokmarker Impact Arenamarker, in front of 9,000 fans. The Bangkok concert was considered a "Triumphant success," Neil Tennant later commented on the official Website. A third single, "London", was only released in Germany, at the request of EMI Germany. It was never planned for release in the UK, although a promotional video was shot by the distinguished photographer Martin Parr and it was serviced to some UK radio stations. Following a live stint on the John Peel show on Radio 1, Pet Shop Boys released Disco 3, in February 2003. The album followed their previous Disco albums, but this one also included new songs as well as remixes.

In 2003, Pet Shop Boys launched two new labels, Olde English Vinyl and Lucky Kunst, their Spaghetti Records label being defunct. The first release on Olde English Vinyl was Atomizer's "Hooked on Radiation," followed by Pete Burns' "Jack and Jill Party" in 2004. The only Lucky Kunst release to date is the mentioned Kiki Kokova's version of "Love to Love You Baby." They also remixed Yoko Ono's "Walking on Thin Ice" in 2003 and Rammstein's "Mein Teil" in 2004. Another new manager, David Dorrell, was brought on board to replace Clark. In November 2003, Pet Shop Boys released a second greatest hits album, Pop Art: Pet Shop Boys - The Hits, a double compilation, commonly referred to as PopArt, with two new singles: "Miracles," and "Flamboyant." Not chronologically arranged, as in the previous Discography, the tracks were divided into two discs: Pop including the most traditional pop songs and Art instead containing those works which were considered as being most experimental.

In September 2004, Pet Shop Boys appeared at a free concert in Trafalgar Squaremarker, in London, where they performed, with the Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra, a whole new soundtrack to accompany the seminal 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin. There were four further live performances of the work with the Dresdner Sinfoniker, in Germany, in September 2005 and the Battleship Potemkin soundtrack was released on 5 September 2005. In November 2004, Pet Shop Boys played at the Prince's Trust concert called Produced by Trevor Horn, a festival with artists who worked with famous British producer Trevor Horn. Other artists included Grace Jones, ABC, Seal and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. In 2005, Pet Shop Boys was selected as the headline act for the Moscow Live 8 concert, in Red Squaremarker. They were received extremely well by the crowd in Moscow. Also in 2005, Pet Shop Boys was asked to put together the twentieth release to the Back to Mine series, an ongoing anthology showcasing artists' favourite music selections, with an emphasis on afterhours chill out music. As a condition, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were given one disc each, whereas all previous releases in the series consisted of only a single disc per group (see Back to Mine: Pet Shop Boys).

Fundamental, touring, Disco 4, Catalogue, Concrete and Cubism (2006 - 2008)

Pet Shop Boys began 2006 remixing Madonna's single "Sorry," for release in February. The single reached Number One in the UK and Pet Shop Boys' remix included new back-up vocals, performed by Tennant. Madonna subsequently used the Pet Shop Boys' remix, including Tennant's vocals, on her 2006 Confessions Tour. In April, Pet Shop Boys released a new single that reached #8 in the UK, "I'm with Stupid," a commentary on the relationship between George W. Bush and Tony Blair. The promo video featured Matt Lucas and David Walliams, better known as the team behind Little Britain. Lucas and Walliams portray Tennant and Lowe, parodying two of the duo's previous videos, "Go West," and "Can You Forgive Her?." The ninth Pet Shop Boys studio album, Fundamental, followed in May, reaching a strong #5 in their home country. The album was produced by Trevor Horn, who Pet Shop Boys had previously worked with on "Left to My Own Devices," in 1988. The album was also released with a limited edition remix album, called Fundamentalism, which included a version of "In Private," a song originally written and produced by Pet Shop Boys for Dusty Springfield, as a duet with Elton John and "Fugitive," a new track, produced by Richard X.

The week that Fundamental was released, a documentary, entitled Pet Shop Boys - A Life in Pop, was broadcast on Channel 4, directed by George Scott and produced by Nick de Grunwald. The original broadcast was an hour long. In October 2006, a significantly expanded version lasting 140 minutes was released on DVD. The liner notes explain: "From their trailblazing first single "West End Girls" to their current position as Britains foremost pop duo, A Life in Pop traces every ground-breaking step in the 20-year career of the Pet Shop Boys. Starting in the respective home towns in the north of England, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe retrace their remarkable journey in their own words. The film features some previously unseen live performances, rare television appearances (including their first ever from Belgium, in 1984) and interviews with famous fans, collaborators and colleagues including Robbie Williams, Brandon Flowers, Tim Rice-Oxley, Jake Shears and Bruce Weber. The DVD also included all of the promo videos that had been made since the release of "PopArt" with the exception of the promo for "Flamboyant" which only appeared on early pressings of the DVD and was subsequently removed for unknown reasons. A Life in Pop is a fascinating in-depth documentary film chronicling the Pet Shop Boys' enduring success."

The second single to be taken from the album was the UK Top Twenty "Minimal." The duo filmed the video to the single in Paris, with Dan Cameron. The single was the first of theirs to be playlisted by London's biggest radio station, Capital Radio, in a decade. Pet Shop Boys began a world tour Fundamental tour in June 2006, in Norway. The show was designed and directed by Es Devlin, the award-winning British theatre designer and choreographed by Hakeem Onibudo. Between 15 June and 10 September 2006, Pet Shop Boys played a series of concert dates across Europe, mainly at assorted festivals and outdoor venues. These included two dates at The Tower of London, on 28 June and 29 and a single show at Thetford Forestmarker, supported by Lorraine. These dates also included performances of Battleship Potemkin, in Germany and Spain. On 1 May 2006, Battleship Potemkin was also performed at the Swan Huntermarker shipyard, in Newcastle-upon-Tynemarker, with Pet Shop Boys accompanied by the Northern Sinfonia orchestra.

On 3 October 2006, the long-delayed U.S. release of their PopArt hits package was issued by Capitol Recordsmarker. During 2006, Pet Shop Boys worked with Robbie Williams on his new album, Rudebox, producing two tracks: a cover version of "We're the Pet Shop Boys," written by My Robot Friend (which they have also recorded themselves and released as a B-side to "Miracles," in 2003) and "She's Madonna," a duet with Tennant, allegedly about Guy Ritchie's affair with Tania Strecker, prior to his relationship with Madonna. On 10 October 2006, Pet Shop Boys embarked in Montrealmarker, on the North and Central American leg of their world tour, which took them through Canada, the USA and Mexico, concluding on 16 November. A DVD of the show in Mexico City was released on 21 May 2007, entitled Cubism. It was recorded on 14 November 2006, in the Auditorio Nacionalmarker, Mexico City and the film was directed by David Barnard (who has in the past directed similar films for Björk and Gorillaz).

On 16 October, Catalogue was released from Thames & Hudson, a 336-page hardcover book, written by Philip Hoare and Chris Heath, detailing their entire visual output (photography, as well as the design of records, videos, toursmarker, books and fan club magazines) from 1984 to 2004. Neil Tennant comments in the book: "In the beginning we made a decision - and it was in our EMI contract - that that we would have control over how everything worked; that obviously the songs mattered hugely, but the way they were presented was going to matter hugely as well; and that we were never going to give up on that." Pet Shop Boys supported the publication of the book with signings in London, New York City, Los Angeles and Berlin. Also on 16 October, the third single from Fundamental, "Numb," was released. It was written by Diane Warren and is the only song on the album not written by Tennant and Lowe. "Numb" became only the second Pet Shop Boys single in their career to miss the Top 20 since their 2 Bobby 'O' debut singles.

On 23 October 2006, Concrete (originally titled Concert but changed at the last minute to the originally-planned title) was released. It is a double CD of the complete Mermaid Theatremarker concert, with the BBC Concert Orchestra (musical director: Trevor Horn), featuring guests Rufus Wainwright, Frances Barber and Robbie Williams. A 90 minute "director's cut" of the concert aired on BBC 6 Music, on 28 August 2006. To coincide with the publication of Catalogue, a small exhibition of portraits of Pet Shop Boys opened in the Bookshop Gallery of London's National Portrait Gallerymarker, on 30 October 2006 and ran to 28 February 2007. On 7 December 2006, Pet Shop Boys were nominated for two 2007 Grammy Awards. These were 'Best Dance Recording' for "I'm with Stupid," and 'Best Electronic/Dance Album' for Fundamental.

Pet Shop Boys were supposed to conclude 2006 and commence 2007 by performing at the Concert in the Gardens at Edinburghmarker's Hogmanay party, but the event was cancelled at short notice, due to bad weather conditions. In February 2007, their 'Stars Are Blazing' remix of The Killers' "Read My Mind" was released. During this period, the Pet Shop Boys said that they were in the studio, writing and recording new material. During the latter part of 2006 and early 2007, Neil Tennant served as executive producer on Rufus Wainwright's new album, Release the Stars, recorded in Berlin. He also sang backing vocals on a number of tracks, most notably on "Do I Disappoint You," and "Tiergarten."

Pet Shop Boys continued their world tour, albeit with a slightly different production and set-list, on 14 March 2007, in Rio de Janeiromarker, Brazilmarker then played concerts in Argentinamarker, Chilemarker, New Zealand and Australia (as co-headliners of the V Festival 2007), Norway, Estoniamarker, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Germany, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Singaporemarker. Pet Shop Boys released the mentioned live DVD, Cubism, in May 2007, via Warner Vision. The DVD features a live show, recorded at the Auditorio Nacionalmarker in Mexico City, in November 2006.. Pet Shop Boys "played" at the free festival Secondfest, in the online virtual world Second Life, on 30 June.

On 8 October 2007, Pet Shop Boys released Disco 4, the latest in their series of remix albums. Previous sets have focussed on remixes of recent tracks (or including new songs, in the case of Disco 3), but the fourth in the set differed in that it was largely made up of remixes, completed by Pet Shop Boys, of other artists' work, over the past decade. These include The Killers, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Atomizer and Rammstein. Only two tracks by the Pet Shop Boys, remixed versions of Fundamental tracks "Integral" and "I'm with Stupid," were included. The Fundamental tour ended in Bucharestmarker, Romaniamarker, in November, 2007.

Yes, Party, and Christmas (2009 onwards)

According to their official website, Pet Shop Boys completed their newest album late 2008. Recorded with Xenomania and released in UK on 23 March 2009, "Yes" was a critical success and hit #4 in the UK, their highest album chart in more than a decade. Pet Shop Boys also appeared on Girls Aloud's new album Out of Control, collaborating on the Top-10 track "The Loving Kind", released on 12 January 2009 as a single.

In February 2009 Pet Shop Boys received The British Phonographic Industry's most prestigious accolade, the award for their outstanding contribution to British music, at the 2009 Brit Awards ceremony held at the Earls Court Arena in London. During the performance at this show, Pet Shop Boys collaborated with Lady GaGa and Brandon Flowers (of The Killers). This also helped their collection album PopArt chart at number 18 on the UK albums chart, higher than when it was originally released.

On 22 March 2009, the first single from the album "Love etc." charted in the UK at number 14, and on 29 March 2009, the album "Yes" charted in the UK at number 4. Subsequent singles to be released from the album are "Did You See Me Coming?", the Germany-exclusive "Beautiful People" with, according to their official website, plans for a new worldwide single soon.

On 10 June 2009, Pet Shop Boys started the summer leg of their Pandemonium Tour in Saint Petersburg, Russiamarker and ended on 21 July 2009 in Tel Aviv, Israelmarker where they played their first concert there in nine years, playing the Manchester Apollomarker and the O2 Arena on 18 and 19 June 2009 respectively. The second leg of the tour started on 29 August 2009 at the Metropolis, in Montreal, Canadamarker.

The Pandemonium Tour showcases songs from the recently released album "Yes" as well as older songs such as "West End Girls", "It's a Sin" and "Always on My Mind". The tour also showcases songs that have not been performed live in the past, such as "Two Divided By Zero", "Why Don't We Live Together?" and the b-side "Do I Have To?".

On November 4 Pet Shop Boys celebrate the Brazilian leg of their 2009 Pandemonium tour by releasing an album entitled Party which includes both past hits and some newer material. Party will be released in Brazil only through TV Globo´s record label, Som Livre, with a TV campaign on TV Globo. "Party" also includes songs that were heavily featured in the following TV Globo soap operas: "Being boring" (Meu Bem Meu Mal OST), "Domino dancing" (O Salvador da Patria OST), "West End girls" (Selva de Pedra OST) and "King of Rome" (currently being featured on the soap opera, Viver a Vida).

The two internationally-released singles from "Yes:" "Love etc" and "Did You See Me Coming?" both hit the top spot on the US Dance Chart, their ninth and tenth #1's on that chart.

On December 14, Pet Shop Boys will release an EP of covers, remixes, and new material, titled Christmas.

Style and image

Band dynamic

The dynamic of Pet Shop Boys' image lies in the duo's public personalities — Tennant is perceived as an erudite intellectual, articulate and verbose in speech; while Lowe, now almost always seen in his trademark attire of hat and sunglasses (since as early as 1985), appears as guarded yet fun-loving, terse yet flippant and casual. They have maintained a consistent pattern for interviews, in which Tennant is the primary speaker, answering questions at length, while occasionally being interrupted by brief, generally humorous interjections from Lowe (which is comparable to the concept of a comedic double act).

They have also been seen as wilfully contrary, defying expectations of record labels and the music industry in terms of commercial image, self-promotion and the nature of their own music. In their early years, Pet Shop Boys seemed to be mostly defined by the things they refused to do. A 1986 quotation by Lowe, taken from an Entertainment Tonight clip and subsequently sampled in their own song "Paninaro," is often cited as the prime example of this:

This also formed the foundation of the band's early reputation as being anti-rock music and more properly aligned with disco and dance music culture. (See, e.g., their appropriately titled 1997 B-side, "How I Learned to Hate Rock and Roll," and their then new 1991 song "DJ Culture," from the Discography compilation.) Eventually, however, these differences were reconciled — a process that symbolically culminated with Pet Shop Boys' performance at the 2000 Glastonbury Festivalmarker, which was the surprise highlight of the three-day event. Tennant expressed his gratitude to the crowd by thanking them for "being kind to us," and that they were "Glastonbury virgins."


This band dynamic has played a role in their public image as well. Early in their career, the duo were frequently accused of lacking stage presence, said to be a deliberate reaction to the hyper-cheerful music of the time, demonstrated by bands such as Wham!. A typical early performance featured Lowe in the background hitting the occasional note on a Fairlight synthesiser keyboard and Tennant singing, but otherwise passive, in the foreground.

However, when they first began touring, in 1989, they were heavily influenced by opera and theatre staging. Derek Jarman staged their first tour, making a series of films to be projected behind the costumed singers and dancers. In 1991, they brought in David Alden and David Fielding, from the English National Opera, to create the staging and costume design, for a show which made no attempt to involve or even acknowledge the audience and pushed the choreography and staging centre stage. Subsequent tours have used artist Sam Taylor-Wood and architect Zaha Hadid for stage design. Their previous tour in 2006 and 2007, was conceived and designed by theatre designer Es Devlin, with choreography by Hakeem Onibudo. Es Devlin has also conceived the 2009 Pandemonium Tour as well.

Traditionally, Pet Shop Boys have always favoured avant-garde tailored fashions. Tennant has referenced the designers of his suits in certain interviews and Lowe has often sported outfits and glasses made by Issey Miyake, Stüssy and Yohji Yamamoto's Y-3 for Adidas. Presentation has always been a major theme for the Pet Shop Boys and the duo have dramatically "re-invented" their image twice in their career. In 1993, when promoting their Very album, they wore brightly coloured costumes and used state-of-the-art computer technology to place themselves in a modern computer graphic world. This concept of re-invention was revisited for the promotion of their Nightlife album, in which they transformed their look, wearing wigs and glasses, with stylised futuristic urban wardrobes. In 2006, both Tennant and Lowe were seen on stage and in photographs wearing clothes designed by Hedi Slimane/Dior Homme.

The duo have always been interested in the artwork, design and photography for their own releases. Photographer Eric Watson helped shape the original image of Pet Shop Boys, creating many of their photographs and videos, from 1984 to 1991. In design they have primarily worked with Mark Farrow, who designed the cover of their first Parlophone album release, in 1986. The collaboration between Mark Farrow and Pet Shop Boys is comparable to the designer/band relationship of Peter Saville and New Order, Anton Corbijn and Depeche Mode, or the epic-length collaboration of Simon Halfon and Paul Weller. Their record sleeves are quite often very minimal and the attention to detail is obvious, down to the font type and style. In October 2006, British art publisher Thames & Hudson published a 336-page hardcover book entitled Pet Shop Boys Catalogue, showcasing the group's accomplishments in artwork, design and of course music. This retrospective of work, by the writers Chris Heath and Philip Hoare, is one of the most comprehensive anthologies any music artist could have. A German-language edition was also published. An exhibition of photographs of Pet Shop Boys was organised at the National Portrait Gallery in London to coincide with the publication.

Even the band's fan base has been subject to commentary. In 2001, music theorist Fred Maus wrote that, contrary to the ideologies of anti-commercialism and authenticity embodied by "serious" discussions of popular music such as rock, Pet Shop Boys fans exhibit "an undisguised love of commercial success". This was demonstrated through mailing list discussions from 1998 onwards, in which fans voiced concern over the "most commercially promising selection and marketing of singles" for the then-upcoming Nightlife, and debated the quality of the then-recent Bilingual, spurred by the album's poorer performance in sales. Most posters, Maus summarized, feared that the band's appeal would become essentially limited to a cult following; "dissent, along the lines that the fans would always have the Pet Shop Boys, no matter what happened commercially, was scarce and ineffectual." Noting the fact that the Pet Shop Boys "began their career with hits", Maus made the point that this early success was valued by fans: the band's "large audiences" were just as important to "many fans" as the making of "distinctive music that individual fans loved."

Live performances

In a 1991 interview with Chris Heath, Chris Lowe noted how the duo's backing tracks were generated:

This arrangement has continued to their most recent tour, with the majority of the music provided by backing tracks sequenced on a computer playing sounds from a rig of synthesisers. The duo employ programmer Pete Gleadall to oversee the computers and play keyboards, as well as backing singers, who often include long time singer Sylvia Mason-James. The boys have used Katie Kissoon in the past for vocal duties and have used other musicians: Danny Cummings, Jodie Linscott and Dawne Adams (percussion); Scott Davidson, Peter Schwartz and Dominic Clarke (keyboards / programming); Mark Refoy and Bic Hayes (guitarists), as well as the late J.J. Belle (guitars and percussion).

Visuals often play a large part in the duo's live performances. For their first tour in 1989, Derek Jarman provided films and costumes to accompany the performances. In 1991, the duo, working with theatrical director David Alden and designer David Fielding, constructed a tour entitled "Performance" which featured a tangible storyline and a troupe of choreographed, costumed dancers. Their 1997 residence at the Savoy Theatremarker featured films by Sam Taylor-Wood; and their 1999 Nightlife tour had its stage designed by Zaha Hadid.


As of 2003, Pet Shop Boys were ranked by Billboard's Joel Whitburn (in his book Billboard's Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003) as the fourth most successful act on the U.S. Dance/Club Play charts, behind only Madonna, Janet Jackson and Donna Summer.

In October 2005, a Swedish tribute band called West End Girls had a number three hit single in their home country, with a cover version of "Domino Dancing." In January 2006, they released their own version of "West End Girls," and an album was also released in June. Pet Shop Boys also have several tribute bands in the form of Birminghammarker-based Pet Shop Noise, who have been performing locally for many years and Seattlemarker-based West End Boys.

Madonna's album Confessions on a Dance Floor, released November 2005, includes a track called "Jump," which has close similarities to "West End Girls." An interview at Popjustice with Stuart Price, who produced Madonna's album, revealed the track "Jump" was a complete Chris Lowe inspiration. Pet Shop Boys then remixed "Sorry," the second single from the album. Madonna has used their version in her 2006 Confessions tour. The history between Madonna and Pet Shop Boys goes back to 1988, with the song "Heart." In the liner notes to their 1991 greatest hits album, Discography, the band states that: The Pet Shop Boys kept the song for themselves and it ended up going to Number One in the UK. Later, in 1991, Madonna was referenced in a tongue-in-cheek lyric, in the song "DJ Culture," soon after she and Sean Penn had divorced. Tennant writes: "Like Liz before Betty / She after Sean / Suddenly you're missing / Then you're reborn." Tennant refers to the "re-invention" Madonna was going through at the time.

Actor David Tennant, currently the star of Doctor Who, took his stage name from Neil Tennant. The actor's real surname is McDonald, but he needed a stage name for Equity, as there was already an actor registered with the name David McDonald.

There is a musically (and visually) accurate parody of "West End Girls", entitled "Inner City Pressure", which features in Episode 2 of Season 1 of Flight of the Conchords.


Neil Tennant, who neither denied nor confirmed gay rumours throughout the 1980s, "came out," in a 1994 interview for Attitude, a UK gay lifestyle magazine. Lowe, meanwhile, has not disclosed his own orientation. He has said (in the 2-part 1996 BBC Radio 1 documentary, About), rather, that there is only "(human) sexuality" - which suggests that he may consider the terms "gay" or "straight" to be constricting, inadequate, or inappropriate labels. The duo are sometimes incorrectly assumed to be a couple (in the 1990 biography Pet Shop Boys, Literally, Tennant recalls that even their ex-manager, Tom Watkins, was under this impression for a time, which inadvertently fueled even more rumours about their orientations). About was released as a 2-CD set via their fanclub in 1997.

Pet Shop Boys are seen as significant figures in gay culture for such songs as "Can You Forgive Her?," "It's a Sin" (for which gay director Derek Jarman produced the video), "New York City Boy," and their cover of Village People's "Go West." They have written a song about a young male fan spending a night with a rapper, based on Eminem, called "The Night I Fell in Love," and a song about coming out, "Metamorphosis." Their 1990s single "Being Boring" dealt with the gay experience and the devastation wrought by the AIDS crisis; the song (and its supporting video, filmed by Bruce Weber), though being one of their lowest-charting singles, remains one of their most popular. However, Neil Tennant has stated many times that his lyrics are not specifically gay. Many of their songs are written from an ambiguous view point, that can be taken any way the listener perceives it and this goes some way to explain why a large segment of their die-hard fans are heterosexual.

Pet Shop Boys have performed and worked with many artists considered to be gay/bisexual icons, such as Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Boy George, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Pete Burns, Brandon Flowers and gay activist Lady Gaga. Pet Shop Boys attempted to organise and perform in a planned 2001 tour of out gay musicians, entitled Wotapalava. However, the plans were later put on hold and the idea seems to have been discarded.

Animal welfare

Pet Shop Boys politely declined a request from PETA to change their name to Rescue Shelter Boys. The request - and its eventual publication on the band's official website - was designed to highlight the alleged animal welfare benefits of getting pets from shelters rather than stores.

Grammy nominations

  • 1997: Grammy Award — Best Dance Recording for "To step Aside" (Nominated)
  • 2003: Grammy Award — Best Recording Package for Release (Nominated)
  • 2007: Grammy Award — Best Dance Recording for "I'm with Stupid" (Nominated)
  • 2007: Grammy Award — Best Electronic/Dance Album for Fundamental (Nominated)


As of 2009, Pet Shop Boys have released 56 singles and 10 "proper" studio albums, as well as 22 among various types of compilation, remix albums and EP, including one live album and two soundtrack and score album.

References, sources and footnotes

  1. Pet Shop Boys official website, News section
  2. WLIR & WDRE 92.7 FM Screamer & Sheiks of the Week
  3. Pet Shop Boys come back with a lot of 'love, etc.'
  4. Heath, Chris (2001). In Behaviour [CD liner notes]. London: Pet Shop Boys Partnership
  5. Pet Shop Boys release Cubism live DVD
  6. Pet Shop Boys to play live in Second Life
  8. The Guardian

External links

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