Radio Creme Brulee"The Pop Kids" by Pet Shop Boys is a symptom of lyrical genius
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“The Pop Kids” by Pet Shop Boys is a symptom of lyrical genius

17 February 2016 15 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

This review is by guest blogger Mike Antonich from “Now It’s On” – The Best Music from Detroit and beyond

psb-blackandwhite-newIn our post on “Veteran acts returning with new material in 2016”, we listed Pet Shop Boys as one of the groups to look out for. As the April 1st release date of their new album “Super” draws steadily closer, pop legends Pet Shop Boys have released the first official single from the forthcoming full length. “The Pop Kids” is actually the second preview from their thirteenth studio album. “Inner Sanctum” was made available in January when the album was officially announced. That track calls to mind “Axis” from 2013’s “Electric“, both mostly instrumental electronic dance tracks with minimal vocals from Neil Tennant. That should come as no surprise since Tennant and Chris Lowe have again teamed up with producer Stuart Price for the new album. Price helped Pet Shop Boys fashion an all-out, storming electronic dance album in “Electric” and they seem poised to do it again with “Super“.

While “Inner Sanctum” was a nice teaser to show that the duo were still firmly rooted on the dance floor for this album, “The Pop Kids” is a wise choice for the lead single. The lyrics and music carry a 90s vibe as Tennant tells the story of friends in college in London in the early 90’s with an unabashed love for pop music. It is a brilliant lyric that speaks both to the duo’s 35 year devotion to pop music, regardless of what fads and trends came and went in music, as well as the loyalty that exists in fans of the genre. For “The Pop Kids“, there has never been any wavering in their love of good pop music, trends be damned. Though the song’s nostalgia-inducing lyric references London in the early 90s, it should resonate with those Americans that became a part of a shrinking minority that pledged an undying allegiance to pop music in those years. This loyalty was rare and remarkable in a time wherein the American musical mainstream had become increasingly dismissive of pop in the wake of the meteoric rise in popularity of grunge and alternative rock. There must have been a natural kinship among people that shared this love for pop music. This song serves as an anthem that celebrates that kinship among not just Pet Shop Boys fans, but also die-hard fans of pop music everywhere. I was 14 when “West End Girls” (the band’s signature hit in the US) became a hit. In the thirty years since, I have become a fan of many other forms of music, from electronic to folk to funk to name a few. But to this day, nothing gets to me quite like a great pop record. If you know this feeling I describe, than this single will surely connect with you.

Given the Price production, it’s easy to find this track fitting in with the material from “Electric“. It is somewhat comparable to that album’s first commercial single “Vocal“, but “The Pop Kids” is more accessible and radio friendly, even though sadly American terrestrial radio has little interest in supporting veteran artists these days. But with a decent video and the proper online support, the song can find an audience. It sounds fresh and current, while still retaining that signature Pet Shop Boys sound and their knack for highly melodic dance pop. Even better for those pop music collectors like me, the song will be released on a limited edition CD single, sold by the band through their website, that will contain remixes and two non-album B-Sides (a gracious nod to the final chapter of Vinyl era’s glory years in which the duo rose to prominence). This is a tradition Tennant and Lowe have refused to give up in this day and age of digital files, each single from their album still gets a physical release with non-album tracks and remixes. What collector or fan doesn’t love that? If you’re a Pop Kid who hasn’t connected with Pet Shop Boys in a long while, this should be the single to win you back.

Here is a full-length lyric video of “Pop Kids“:

STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Broadcasting Worldwide

Pop Kids” by Pet Shop Boys is getting 5 plays a day on our global online radio broadcasts. Our radio station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Pet Shop Boys is a fairly regular staple on our station. Alongside new music by newer artists, we also feature newer material by veteran artists such as the Pet Shop Boys, Simply Red, Simple Minds, a-ha, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, INXS, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, Culture Club, and Take That. We go beyond just the “popular on radio” singles and even feature other radio-worthy album tracks and b-sides by these artists.

Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!

15 Responses to "“The Pop Kids” by Pet Shop Boys is a symptom of lyrical genius"

  1. Frannie says:

    I love it! A big improvement over some of their recent work which I wasn’t into. The lyrics are cool.

  2. @Frannie: Definitely a big improvement over recent output for sure. Hope the album yields at least 2-3 strong singles.

  3. Sam says:

    Definitely decent. It’s a solid dance track, but the chorus is not particularly original or memorable. I’d give it 3.5 stars. Referring to the article, I never cared much for their “signature” hit “West End Girls.” I thought “Opportunities” was a much better song. My favorite song by them is definitely “Can You Forgive Her?”

    Incidentally, referring to the other blog post about new music from veterans, I didn’t realize that Ellis-Bextor is coming back so soon–that’s good news. I think her song “Can’t Have It All” is great, and she has a lot of other enjoyable songs too. As for Tears for Fears, I’ll believe it when I see it. LOL. 🙂

  4. @Sam: This is the first time someone has mentioned “Can you forgive her” in ages!!! I still remember this song getting loads of airplay back in 1993. I still cannot forgot that bit from the music video wherein the duo is walking in opposite directions on side-by-side escalators. with these cone-shaped hats. I have to confess that I have not heard “Can’t have it all” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Going to check it out right away. I totally understand the skepticism around Tears for Fears. This new album was supposed to drop in 2014!

  5. Sam says:

    Really? I think “Can You Forgive Her?” is such a great song, but when I’ve looked at lists that fans have made of the “Top Songs of the Pet Shop Boys,” I’ve never seen it mentioned. I guess I just have my own tastes, because I rarely if ever agree with such lists! 🙂 Yeah, it had a pretty cool video. Glad you’re familiar with it.

    “Can’t Have It All” was one of the bonus tracks from “Trip the Light Fantastic.” I was reading some reviews of that album on Amazon, and one of the reviewers said that it was his favorite song off the album as well, so maybe I’m not crazy after all. 😉 Anyway, these things are subjective, so YMMV. “Down with Love,” a B-side to one of the singles from that album, is also a strong song IMO.

    Yeah, we’ll see if Tears for Fears really delivers.

  6. Sam says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention. This new song, “The Pop Kids,” has been growing on me. So, I’d like to up my rating to 3.75 stars. 🙂

  7. @Sam: I still remember exactly when I saw the video for “Can you forgive her”. It was the first week of August in 1993. It had topped the MTV Asian top 20. I was living in Asia at that time. I remember it got bumped off the top the following week by UB40’s “Can’t help falling in love”. I promise I will get to the Sophie Ellis-Bextor b-sies this afternoon. I loved “Starlight” from her “Make a scene” album, and we take pride in being the first American station to feature that song on high-rotation airplay back when it released. I am glad she is returning to her uptempo roots on the new album.

    I am really hoping for Tears For Fears greatness. I saw them in concert last year and they were absolutely fantastic.

    Last, but not least, glad to know “Pop Kids” is growing on you!

  8. Sam says:

    Interesting you can still remember when you first saw that video in 1993. I never saw the actual video until years later, but I’m not really into music videos anyway. They basically ruin my mental image of a song. 🙂

    There are a ton of songs by SE-B that I haven’t heard, and “Starlight” is one of them. I’ll have to put that on my list. Cool you played that song ahead of everybody else.

    The only TFF album I own is their last one. It was kind of spotty, but I liked several of the tunes. Glad they still sound good in concert.

    Yeah, “Pop Kids” is a pretty decent tune. One of their more recent songs that I really liked is “Love etc.”

  9. Frannie says:

    Tears for Fears played at an 80s party event that was streamed live on the iheart Radio app. They were wonderful, by far the best sounding act there. I”m only a casual fan of them, but if that performance was any thing to go by, the new album will be something special.

  10. Frannie says:

    Culture Club also performed at the iheart 80’s event last month. Although I’m a big fan, I found their performance very disappointing. I saw them live last summer on their tour and George’s voice was great. But at the iheart event he sounded absolutely horrible. In Miss Me Blind, Church and Do You Really, literally every note he sang was off key. Apparently he was mostly busy filming Celebrity Apprentice that he didn’t bother to rehearse and boy, did it show.

    I do like Culture Club and George’s solo music. but George does not take enough care with his voice. He seems so caught up in his hats, his makeup and his celebrity that sometimes he forgets the music. For such a critically acclaimed singer, he does a large number of really very poor vocal performances. Get it together, George!

  11. @Sam: My sincere apologies for the delayed acknowledgment of your last comment. It has been a crazy few weeks for me. Somehow, I could not get into “Love Etc” at all. The only singles that I liked from the “Yes” album are “Did you see me coming” and “Beautiful People”. I thought they were pleasant – but not PSB essentials by any stretch. The last TFF album was definitely quite disappointing. Too Beatles-esque for me.

  12. @Frannie: I am sure George will get it together. He has to! The band is on such a roll musically speaking. My guess is that George is going to leverage his media profile to help push the album. I don’t blame him for wanting to do that – given the rampant ageist bias due to which most veteran bands have their new albums relegated to obscurity on arrival.

  13. @Sam: “Down with Love” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor is fantastic! Thank you so much for that recommendation. We generally reserve high-rotation airplay for new tracks but we are definitely adding this to our high-rotation playlist pretty soon. Will keep you posted. Thank you once again.

  14. Frannie says:

    I don’t with agree with the media profile thing with George. Yes, he’s doing all these reality shows but they are about him as a person. They’re not about the music or the band. I don’t see doing all these shows is going to make people buy the album. Their music always gets lost among the cult of personality of George.

    I don’t see that they are on a roll. Any momentum has been lost with the long delays in the release of the album. The time to release to keep people interested was right around the tour. You are more a believer in George than I am. I am increasingly fed up with him. I really don’t think George cares that much about Culture Club. He is already working on his solo album. I fear he will put CC to the side as he has so many times in the past.

    This blog has an interesting interview with Roy Hay.

    I wish the other guys could be interviewed more and have a higher media profile. Why does it always have to be just about George and only George? I think Roy is much more honest and straightforward than George who gives very PC but not actually true answers in interviews.

    It’s very interesting when they ask him about the relationship between George and Jon. He admits there are tensions, not so much from their prior romantic relationship, but because George forgets than Jon was the driving force behind the band and George sort of tries to negate his role now. I think that’s sad. I wish George could show Jon the respect he deserves.
    Roy also says George is a diva and very hard to work with, hardly the changed George he tries so hard to portray.

    I hope the album is released eventually, but I don’t think this reunion will last given the tensions which have never been resolved. I don’t think George is doing all these media things to help the band or the album, he’s doing them because he loves the spotlight.

    I wish they could have more belief in their own music and talent, and not try to do all these reality show gimmicks. I feel if you put effort into the actual music and singing, release an album and tour consistently to promote it, you will find an audience regardless of ageism. I feel George is trying to take a shortcut instead of doing the real work.
    I honestly can’t think of any older artist who has had great success by being on reality shows.

    At one time Boy George and Culture Club was my second favorite artist after Madonna. Now i hate to say it, but they wouldn’t make my top 10.
    They are just too lazy and unprofessional in how they deal with their career and fans.
    I paid for this album back in October 2014 and I still have not got it or any news on when I might get it! It’s very annoying.

    But I guess I keep giving him another chance. I don’t know why sometimes. I am seeing him and Cyndi Lauper on tour this summer. I will give you a report on here about how that went.

    I like Cyndi’s older music but not too excited about her current country album. Hopefully, she won’t play too much of that. Cyndi is a good songwriter, but for some reason she insists on releasing numerous cover albums. This is her third covers album! I find that really excessive.

  15. Frannie says:

    They’ve always tried to milk George’s media profile and leverage that into record sales. It’s never worked because it’s not about the music. How about a different approach? Because the media profile of George thing has failed miserably at least for the other guys.

    The thing that killed them was overexposure of George in the first place. It overshadowed the music. I wish they could go back to how it was where they first started when it was more about the actual music, both recorded and live and putting some passion and effort into that, instead of superficial celebrity B.S. about George’s hat.

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