Who is listed as the “Most Successful Duo in UK Music History?” You might not know the answer, but many children of the 80s do. The answer is the band “Pet Shop Boys.” In fact, they’re still around today and most recently released an album in 2013.
Pet Shop Boys, like Depeche Mode, fall under the genre of electronic pop. The group consists of two members: Neil Tennant (main vocals, keyboards, occasional guitar) and Chris Lowe (keyboards, occasional vocals).
Here are some facts about the band:
-Neil and Chris met in an electronics shop in Kings Road in Chelsea, London, in August of 1981
-Bonded over mutual interest in dance music
-Future hit songs such as “It’s a Sin,” “West End Girls,” “Rent,” “Jealousy” were created in Tennant’s flat in Chelsea
-Initially called themselves “West End” because of their love for London’s West End, but later came up with Pet Shop Boys, derived from friends of theirs “who worked in a Pet Shop in Ealing.”
-Their “Big Break” came when Tennant was assigned by Smash Hits (a pop music magazine) to interview The Police in New York. The duo was obsessed with their current producer “Bobby Orlando. ” After hearing the demo tape Tennant brought with him, Bobby O suggested they make a record together.
One of the duo’s first hits: “It’s a Sin”
Pet Shop Boys recorded 11 songs with Bobby Orlando from 1981-1984; they cut ties in 1985.
In 1985 the band re-recorded “West End Girls” with another producer. The new version entered at a low position on the charts but slowly rose. However, according to Wikipedia, “by January 1986, it achieved the top spot. It was subsequently number one in the United States, Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Israel, New Zealand and Norway and sold an estimated 1.5 million copies worldwide.” To date, it is their best known song.
-After the success of “West End Girls,” the duo released another single named “Love Comes Quickly” in February of 1986. Their debut album, Please, did not come out until March 1986. They initially tried to tour for this album, but expenses grew too high and it [the tour] was cancelled. They did, however, perform “Love Comes Quickly” and “West End Girls” at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.
-Their second single “It’s a Sin” (posted above) caused controversy when they were accused of plagiarism of Cat Stevens’s “Wild World.” What do you think? Here is Cat Stevens for comparison:
The band went on to release 11 more albums: Please (’86), Actually (’87), Introspective (’88), Behaviour (’90), Very (’93), Bilingual (’96), Nightlife (’99), Release (’02), Fundamental (’06), Yes (’09), Elysium (’12), and Electric (’13)
As of 2003, Pet Shop Boys were ranked (by Billboard’s Joel Whitburn as the “fourth most successful act on the U.S. Dance/Club Play charts.” Leading the list were some voices you may be familiar with: none other than Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Donna Summer.