Tuesday, 26 June 2012

What Pet Shop Boys means to me

Well, this will come across as an incredibly soppy post in places. But today, as I celebrate two years of being a Pet Shop Boys fan I felt it was appropriate to reflect on the impact they've had one me. Honestly, they've had a massive impact, and this is coming from someone who up until that Glastonbury 2010 performance, whilst loving music with a passion I couldn't have said any artist had changed my life. Moreover, I didn't believe that it could really happen, although a part of me wish I could have felt that personal connection with an artist. It was to be though, at a time when I wasn't looking for such an artist, that they would just appear.

I began listening to them during a period of self discovery I guess. I wasn't depressed, but self confidence isn't something I have a lot of. Confident in the sense that I personally know and am comfortable with who I am and what I'm about, but until a few years ago that wasn't transferring into my interactions with others much at all. I didn't act certain ways to fit in, but I also wouldn't have given myself permission to express myself. In the area I live and the school I went too, it was very clicky. There was a strict way of acting that was deemed as cool, and if you didn't conform with that then dear help you. I suffer very badly from gutate type psorasis as well as a mild form of epilepsy so that naturally put me at a disadvantage. Without even trying, I didn't fit in. It begin to feel so bad that deep down inside I felt that there was something wrong with me: In many respects I hated teenage culture and didn't want to belong to it. Such a stance could result in some very unhappy times at school though.

When I began listening to Pet Shop Boys music, there was something immediately about their music which I thought was brilliant. They were naturally eclectic but you still felt they were just normal people that you could identify with. They also seemed to bring together so many different things in their work: historical references, pop culture references, different forms of art yet still make some of the most accessible, intelligent pop music my ears had the fortune to hear. However, once I watched them in interviews I realised that I loved them as people just as much.

As people, they struck me as naturally eclectic but still empathisable. I personally loved that, and their aforementioned eclectiness reminded me of myself I guess. Its hard to convey on a blog, but everyone who meets me always says that I'm quirky. Even at school a teacher said that my speech I wrote for English GCSE was very good because it was lively and quirky just like me. People tell me that I have natural eccentricity about me which is totally genuine. I guess in school I tried to hide it, but you can't hide who you are naturally and it would come out sometimes, only to reduce me firmly to laughing stock status. I've no idea why, but seeing how Pet Shop Boys were naturally eccentric and weren't afraid to do what they wanted to was something I really aspired to. I particularly loved how they could manage that yet still retain respect of their peers. Seriously, how do they do that? This was a question I asked myself many times. Also, as someone who's strongest subject academically was English and who hopes to be a music journalist, you can imagine Neil being a particular inspiration there.

One day, I was listening to Can You Forgive you her, and a line: "she's made you some kind of laughing stock because you dance to disco and don't like rock" made me take note. My word, it summed me up a treat! Honestly, I could spend ages talking about how their lyrics have helped me but I shall save that for another post. My music taste, being based very much in electronic music and just retro music in general really can result in a few raised eyebrows from my peers. The whole retro culture thing was something I struggled with too. I loved it, but where I live to be into it at my age isn't cool. At all. Nor is the idea of intelligence sometimes it feels like. To be seen as intelligent automatically gave you uncool status. Anyone who knows me knows that, whilst I'm no genius, I'd favour brains over fitting in with some trend. Its a hard thing for me to articulate, but I guess Pet Shop Boys made me realise that no matter what, being intelligent is always the more admirable quality, and ultimately pays off dividends: after 30 years they are still making music and are revered by critics and a variety of artists from Elton John to The Divine Comedy after all whilst many groups from the same era have sadly disappeared. Honestly, that level of inspiration from someone was something that I had never experienced before really, which in itself should show how much their music and them as people mean to me.

Of course, they've changed my life in other ways too. Through Pet Shop Boys I discovered Electronic, which led to New Order, which led to Joy Division, and through those last three bands I found myself developing a general passion for the Manchester music scene. I've met some friends simply by being a fan of their work and I would be proud to call them amongst some of my closest and most trusted.

They've given me a lot of fun personal memories too: For my 18th birthday dinner West End Girls was played at the request of my aunt in the restaurant we were eating in. There's a running joke in my family that they just seem to turn up everywhere. Like a few days ago I recorded a TOTP archive programme, without knowing many of the acts that were on it: sure enough Pet Shop Boys turned up with Always On My Mind. Even the day I became a fan was significant: 26th June 2010 which was the day after the 5th anniversary of my grandmother's death, whom I was very close to as was the rest of my family. Sometimes it really is like they're inescapable in my house, and they've become synonymous with me. My highlight though had to have been the autograph they sent me for my 18th birthday, which you can see pictures of in this blog. I know it sounds a little daft, but for me it sort of symbolises my little connection I have with Pet Shop Boys. I guess it wouldn't be an exagerration to say its a connection I only have with a select few artists.

I guess, all in all, two years ago I wouldn't have believed a band could change your life so much and come to mean so much to you. Now though, I know otherwise: and moreover, I'm proud to say it.


  1. I'm sure Pet Shop Boys are proud to have fans like you :)

  2. Thank you very much!!!