Monday, June 08, 2020

"A lens on to a glamorous demimonde"

The Guardian's rundown of the 100 best UK No. 1s came to a conclusion on Friday, with 'West End Girls' claiming top spot. While it wouldn't be my pick, Pet Shop Boys' debut single would certainly be right up there, and Laura Snapes did an admirable job of justifying its position: "[not] so much social commentary on London's burgeoning yuppie class as ... impressionist marvel, in which lust, naivety, disco and opaque references to Lenin rush by as if caught in the reflection of a bus window".

Her piece wasn't merely convincing, it was also informative - primarily because I had no idea that an alternative version had been released earlier and largely flopped. That was one of the things she asked Neil Tennant about in an accompanying interview. The singer also spoke of his initial embarrassment about the rap sections, and defined the song as being "about escape into the city at night, which is emblematic of pleasure".

For Tennant, though, 'West End Girls' isn't even the best British No. 1 by a Boy band - his vote would have gone to 'Good Vibrations'.

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