3rd of 10 blogs devoted to the 10 best Pet Shop Boys songs of all time, not presented in any particular order. Each has an A side and is followed by a B side, a song so good it nearly made it (and would have for any band not as good as this). For introduction click here.
A Side – Jealousy
There have been some “lively discussions” behind the scenes here at PopLifer over what should make the final cut for our 10 favourite Pet Shop Boys songs of all time, and what should be relegated to B list status. Accusations have been hurled, tastes derided, words said that can never be taken back and cruel decisions made. But on “Jealousy” we were unanimous: it’s one of the best and most piercingly emotional works in the Tennant/Lowe songbook. Lyrically, Tennant perfectly captures the humiliating, petty mundanity of sexual jealousy (“you didn’t phone when you said you would”) while the music moves with eerie grace from understated melancholy to explosive, glorious melodrama. As PopLifer reader Michael Kay emails, it’s “perfect in almost every way. Unforgettably bitter lyrics, sung almost like a love song, and a rousing orchestral finish. Everything you want from a PSB track… my ultimate desert island disc.” Key lyric: “I never knew… til I met… you.”
B Side – Always On My Mind
Perhaps the most tragic and shocking victim of the ruthless arguing, bargaining and list-slashing that’s been going on at PopLifer Towers is “Always On My Mind” which is in many ways the Pet Shop Boys’ most triumphant, most “imperial” pop hit of all. At the peak of their unlikely but vast early success, the Boys took a wearisome Elvis Presley standard and turned it inside out, replaced country guitars with the most souped-up synth riff in mainstream pop history, sardonically emphasised the essential callousness in Willie Nelson’s lyric and reaped the rewards with one of the five greatest Christmas number ones of all time. It’s fucking amazing in short, and if there IS a good reason for its exclusion from the top ten (and at least one of us isn’t sure there is) it may be that it’s just that tiny bit too knowing. They have rarely been more exciting but they have often been more moving and that counts for something. Key lyric: “Little things I should have said and done: I never took the time.”