Pet Shop Boys

  • Synth-pop duo formed in 1981 from London England. The duo consists of vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist/vocalist Chris Lowe.
  • Tennant and Lowe met at a audio store in 1981 – Tennant was 27 years old, and Lowe was 22. They discovered that they had a mutual interest in disco and electro-pop music, which was starting to evolve in the early 80s. Lowe dabbled in architecture – he knew how to play the piano but had not performed in a band. Tennant performed in a folk band as a teenager, but well into his twenties, he was an editor for various publishing companies and by 1982 he was an editor at a British teen pop magazine.
  • They began to write and record music, influenced by bands like Soft Cell and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The chose the name Pet Shop Boys because friends of theirs worked in a local pet store and were known as the “pet shop boys.” In 1983, Tennant traveled to New York for his magazine to interview Sting. While there, he met with a record producer known for his work in early electronic dance music, giving him a demo tape of some of the songs that he and Lowe had recorded. The producer worked with them, recording several tracks. In 1984, a non-album limited release single was released in the UK – West End Girls barely charted in the UK, but it became a club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • A year later, they cut ties with the producer and they signed with a record label. In July 1985, Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) was released in the UK as a non-album single. They began to record their debut album, and both West End Girls and Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) were re-recorded with electronic instruments. The re-recorded version of West End Girls was released in late 1985 in the UK and in early 1986 in the U.S. It topped the charts in both countries. The debut album Please was released in early 1986. It peaked on the Billboard 200 album chart at #7, and it was certified platinum. The remix of Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) peaked at #10 on the Hot 100. A third single, Suburbia, was a top ten hit throughout Europe.
  • In 1987, they released their second studio album, Actually. Three singles landed in the top ten of the Hot 100 chart – It’s a Sin peaked at #9, What Have I Done to Deserve This? (featuring Dusty Springfield on co-vocals) reached #2, and a cover of Always On My Mind (made most famous by Willie Nelson) reached #4. The Introspective album followed in 1988. Three singles were top ten throughout Europe, with Domino Dancing reaching #18 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Dance Club Singles chart.
  • Four albums released in the 90s were major successes in Europe, but were less successful in the U.S. Pet Shop Boys were no longer hitmakers on the Hot 100, but their music remained popular on the Dance charts, with 15 singles charting in the top 10 of US Dance charts, including #1 songs Can You Forgive Her?, Go West (a cover of the Village People hit), Before and New York City Boy.
  • In 2001, a musical theater production titled Closer to Heaven with music and lyrics by Pet Shop Boys ran in London for five months. Most of the songs in the show were original to the production, though several were included in the duo’s 1999 studio album Nightlife. In 2002, they released their eighth studio album, Release. While most of the instrumentation is electronic, the album was a significant change in that the sound of the instrumentation was acoustic, with guitars and pianos that did not sound electronic.
  • Six more studio albums followed from 2006 to 2020 – all charted in the U.S. and all were top 10 albums in the UK. Now into their fourth decade, they continued to release hit Dance singles – six singles reached the top 15 of the US Dance Club Songs chart, including The Pop Kids, which reached #1 in 2016.
  • Pet Shop Boys has dominated the dance club scene for decades. In 2016, Billboard named them the number one dance group/duo of all time. Only three other solo acts are there with them – ever hear of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Donna Summer? “I got the brains, you got the looks…let’s make lots of money!” Here’s the video.

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