dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is Pet Shop Boys' New Single "Together" Their Most Disturbing Song Yet?

The Pet Shop Boys' singles off their greatest hits collections have traditionally been upbeat, positive jams. Think buoyant declaration of pride "Was It Worth It" from Discography and the metaphorical, starry-eyed "Miracles" on PopArt.

And now we've got "Together," the brand new single on the Boys' third hits compilation Ultimate. With the song's optimistic refrain "together we'll go all the way," it would seem we have yet another affirmative choon about love and the fearlessness it instills.

But scratch the surface a bit—or, rather, give it a few more listens—and suddenly we start to realize there's something darker lurking in the subtext of Neil Tennant's lyrics than we originally were aware of.

Particularly disturbing is the second half of the chorus:

Together I'll cry with you,
Together I'll die with you,
Together we'll go all the way

On "More Than A Dream," a song from the last Pet Shop Boys album Yes, there's that whole middle part that contains the following lyrics:

Driving through the night
Just you and me
Faster than the pale moonlight
Something is calling, calling us away
Do you believe heaven is a better place
We'll be there in a heartbeat

This always struck me as a veiled reference to suicide—or a suicide pact between two lovers. And "Together," with all of its desperation, seems to be a continuation of that theme.

Now my heart is beating fast
Time is short, the die is cast

The narrator seems to be bent on complete devotion and self-destruction, no matter what the cost: "Anything you want I'll do, I'm gonna need to follow through / Everything I have is yours, I pray you understand because whatever you want to do I'm gonna be with you."

It plays like a more sinister version of Donna Summer's devotional pop anthem "This Time I Know It's For Real," or Sonia's strangely icky stalker fest "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You." The true tip-off that the two people in "Together" are doomed comes with the song's middle eight:

Everything's easy in this state of mind,
The world starts to fade as we leave it behind

And indeed, as "Together" swirls into its climax, a ghostly array of synths build like a spectral chorus, carrying our two characters off to the next world.

I think it's funny that there was the misconception before "Together" surfaced that this was possibly a song about Neil's professional relationship (or the ending of it) with Chris Lowe. To me it's so clear that, lyrically, this is about two people in love who are willing to end their lives for each other.

Is it just coincidence that, musically, "Together" resembles an Adamski (featuring a young Seal) song called "Killer"?

It's creepy. And it's poppy. In other words, it's so very Pet Shop Boys. I mean, come on—if you doubt that "Together" is anything more than a love song, take a look at the single's cover art, which depicts a pair of restraints.

This ain't no "Love Comes Quickly," folks. Or, if it is, it's the Romeo And Juliet brand of amore. Now pass the poison.



  • At 12:57 AM, Anonymous outoutout said…

    Iiiiinteresting... have to say I never really thought about the middle bit of "More Than A Dream", but you may be onto something there. I'll have to give "Together" a few more listens now.

  • At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Figured I would share. :)

  • At 1:07 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    You have to admit, there is an element of sexiness in this song as well - though I am getting the sense of primarily commitment between two lovers (metaphorical or otherwise) in this song.

    If anything at all about the Pet Shop Boys... that would be the fact that they LOVE to send out disturbing signals that forces you to stop and listen, and in process THINK about yourself and your own senses of... (fill in the blank for topic!).

  • At 1:42 AM, Blogger Andrew said…

    These fools never disappoint. I have always thought More Than a Dream was rather disturbing. Maybe since they are getting older their mindsets about life have changed lol. I like to believe this song is about their love for each other. I always have wanted them to be secret lovers. =) The song is fantastic and im ready for a new album even though they neglected Yes. Pandemonium and The Way It Used To Be should have been singles, with remixes by Fred Falke.

  • At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Melmoth the Wanderer said…

    It's basically Fugitive mark II. If you loved Fugitive, you'll love this. Same psychosocial dysfunctionalism, euphoric waves of melancholic despair, and completely electronic. It's the ideal soundtrack for suicidal narcissistic ravers.

  • At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Neil Tennant Is A Twat said…

    PSB PSB PSB! Dude, can't you write about something else?

    PSB haven't been relevant since 1993. Who cares?

  • At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Didn't Neil say in an interview that "Fugitive" was about terrorists? It would seem to me that this is part of an expanding terrorists-are-really-gay subgenre.

  • At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Maxx said…

    "Fugitive" is incredibly dark, and has 2 entirely separate and equally credible readings. Either it's from the POV of a terrorist about to go on a suicide mission, or from the POV of one of a pair of gay lovers about to be executed by a repressive regime (I believe the song was dedicated to 2 young men killed by the Iranian government). Amazing song.

  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger countpopula said…

    I sorta picked up on the suicide aspect of the song as well, and I don't know if it was the intention, but it does lend it a darker edge.

    You COULD write about something besides PSB, but why bother? They write some of the best pop songs out there, even when they don't sell in big numbers. With as much crap that gets blogged about these days, it's nice to see somebody respond to something of real quality.

    And you do write about plenty of other things.

  • At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Pranav said…

    Quite disappointed with the track. It's pretty average - which is a bad thing for the Pet Shop Boys - considering their standards.

  • At 7:08 PM, Blogger daavid said…

    It all makes sense to me:

    cheap sounding* eurodance in a 3/4 time signature = career suicide

    *not necessarily a bad thing in my book, but still

  • At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    After a few listens, I wonder if this song could simply be about a couple who are entering into an 'unaccepted' (sexual) relationship.

    "I can keep a secret
    If you can really mean it and
    Feel the luck beside us
    and so much love inside us"

    To me, there seems to be a sort of desperate, almost aggressive, pleading from the narrator.

    I like it!

  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Jebb said…

    New York City Boy was their most disturbing song ever.

  • At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rent was pretty disturbing also because it was so true!

  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger Justin said…

    Rumor has it that the video for Together was filmed on Monday night in Tallinn, Estonia. They asked for extras to show up, particularly men dressed in business casual attire. No dance skills were needed.

    Here's some photos of people standing outside waiting to get in for the filming:

  • At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are WAY off, in my opinion. But I think you have an interesting way of looking at things. Be more optimistic.
    They've always been dark. But it's in a sensual, sexual, metaphorical way.

  • At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Raul Roque said…

    "And indeed, as "Together" swirls into its climax, a ghostly array of synths build like a spectral chorus, carrying our two characters off to the next world."

    Really true...

    I sympathize with your interpretation as well. The video will explain more...

  • At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just seen them perform this on TV and thought it was incredibly bland whatever the meaning of the lyrics. In the past, this would not even have made a B-Side let alone the final track on their 25 year retrospective. In fact it doesn't hold a candle to some of their old B-Sides. I just think they could have done something really special for the new track. It will be the weakest track on the album without a doubt.

  • At 7:45 AM, Blogger adampsb said…

    I think it is a brilliant track and it does give the impression of a suicide pact and is quite disturbing but that is what they are good at.

    Can't wait for another studio albunm or b-side album though

    Do you think we'll see Nightlife re-packaged the way they did with the other ones


  • At 5:00 AM, Blogger GFM Painting said…

    Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    Pet Portraits

  • At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Alex Razos said…

    Together can be conceived in more ways than one. Obviously. But there is a reason for that.

    Because despite what the lyrics suggest, the music can sometimes play an opposite role.

    Forget the lyrics for one minute and picture the music video,if you've seen it, of course.

    This now suggests something else. Of a supporting nature, love and "Togetherness"

    Thats said, i am quite pleased with this song. It has dramatically grown on me and has become one of my favborites. Well done PSB.

    Fan since 1985!!! And i have yet to see them live (Never visited my country ;( )

    Regards, Alex.

  • At 11:13 PM, Anonymous cell phones said…

    I agree with Phil, it looks cleaner and more professional. Thanks you!

  • At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks so much for the post, pretty helpful information.
    -> | 7 | 4 2 | -> | 1 - | this

  • At 1:40 PM, Blogger good days said…

  • At 8:11 AM, Blogger نور الهدى said…

  • At 4:56 AM, Blogger Ghafar Khan said…

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