Pet Shop Boys Leave 'West End' To Explore 'Elysium' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Pet Shop Boys Leave 'West End' To Explore 'Elysium'

Play associated audio

For 25 years, the London synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys have done one thing better than any other duo in the UK: sell records.

In fact, they've sold 50 million records worldwide since Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met at an electronics shop in 1981.

Many people were reminded of the Pet Shop Boys when they helped close out the 2012 Olympic Games in London with their biggest hit, "West End Girls." The duo, however, continues to make new music and has just released their 11th studio album, Elysium.

Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz sat down with Neil Tennant to talk about their early days and influences, as well as the new album.


Interview Highlights

On the single "Winner" from their new album Elysium: "It became clear after a while that we were writing songs about being pop stars at our age, which is in our 50s. And pop music is in theory, at least it used to be, a young people's musical form. I think the main thing is whether people still think the song sounds fresh. I think the funny thing about pop music is it goes through a phase of being dated, and then it sort of comes out of that and sounds fresh again."

On the rap roots of "West End Girls": "When we wrote the song, it was meant to be a rap record. It was influenced by Grandmaster Flash. If it had been sung or spoken in an American accent or rap accent you've had realized it was a rap record and the verses are rapped."

On their influence on gay culture: "Well I've always had a very ambivalent relationship with the idea of gay culture, because I think it's often been used to marginalize people. In the United States it was used to marginalize the Pet Shop Boys. For instance, we were briefly on Atlantic Records in the mid-90s, and all of the marketing was done by the gay marketing department. And I sort of resent the idea that being gay means you liked a certain kind of music, which maybe that includes the Pet Shop Boys."

On the merging of pop, electronic/dance and hip-hop music: "I think it's quite a good development in that all these different styles of music have been mixed up in one giant EDM [electronic dance music] pot. So Snoop Doggy Dog can be performing with David Guetta, which 10 years ago or 20 years ago would have been unthinkable. Pop music is a fantastic monster; it eats up anything and regurgitates it."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Oct. 1

Music from West Africa and photography from South East Asia come to the D.C. area.

NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
WAMU 88.5

Legal Limbo No More? Bill To Go Before D.C. Council Lays Out Ridesharing Rules

Cab drivers in D.C. have long complained that their app-based, ridesharing competition are unregulated. Now D.C. Council member Mary Cheh is introducing a bill that would address these concerns.

NPR

'Ello' Aims For A Return To Ad-Free Social Networking

Ello is the viral social network of the moment. Ad-free, invitation-only and with the option of anonymity, it's generating tons of chatter as the latest alternative to Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.