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Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls (1985)

  • Video Views 104,567,791
  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.71
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"West End Girls" is a song by the English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys. Written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, the song was ...

"West End Girls" is a song by the English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys. Written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, the song was released twice as a single. The song's lyrics are concerned with class and the pressures of inner-city life which were inspired partly by T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land. It was generally well received by contemporary music critics and has been frequently cited as a highlight in the duo's career.

The first version of the song was produced by Bobby Orlando and was released on Columbia Records' Bobcat Records imprint in April 1984, becoming a club hit in the United States and some European countries. After the duo signed with EMI, the song was re-recorded with producer Stephen Hague for their first studio album, Please. In October 1985, the new version was released, reaching number one in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1986.

In 1987, the song won Best Single at the Brit Awards, and Best International Hit at the Ivor Novello Awards. In 2005, 20 years after its release, the song was awarded Song of The Decade between the years 1985 and 1994 by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. A critic's poll in 2020 by The Guardian selected "West End Girls" as number one of the 100 greatest UK number one singles.

The song was performed by Pet Shop Boys at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.

Music video

The video was directed by Andy Morahan and Eric Watson, and consists of shots of the duo around London.

At the beginning of the video, noises from the city can be heard, a camera passes Lowe on the street, and focuses on mannequins in a shop window. Then appears a sequence of quick cuts with shots of the city's different sub-cultures; the video freezes and cuts to Tennant and Lowe, who walk through an empty Wentworth Street in Petticoat Lane Market. They stand in front of a red garage door; Tennant is in front dressed with a long coat, white shirt and dark necktie, directly addressing the camera, with Lowe standing behind him with a blank expression. Lowe is filmed in double-exposure and appears almost ghostlike. In other shots, Tennant power-walks imperiously while Lowe casually follows behind. While Tennant delivers the lyrics and chorus directly at the viewer, Lowe appears at times disinterested in the proceedings or preoccupied with other goings-on around them.

Then the video shows various shots at Waterloo Station, as the chorus starts. In slow motion, the camera pans across the WHSmith shop on the station concourse as the duo walk past. It cuts to a brief shot of a No. 42 red double-decker bus, showing the destination as Aldgate, also advertising the stage-show Evita, then black and white shots of the Tower Bridge, Westminster and the Westminster Palace Clock Tower from the sky. The duo poses on the South Bank of the River Thames in a pastiche of a postcard image, with the Houses of Parliament as a background.

The camera shows shots of young women, and passes through arcades and cinemas in Leicester Square. The camera now passes South Africa House showing protestors in the Non-Stop Picket, an anti-apartheid vigil. The video cuts to a closeup of Tennant singing the chorus, with a purple neon sign eerily passing across his face. At the end the camera passes again through Leicester Square, where people queue to see Fletch and Desperately Seeking Susan. The video was nominated for Best New Artist in a Video at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to A-ha's "Take On Me".

The video was published on YouTube on 22 April 2009; as of 27 April 2021, it had been viewed over 100 million times, making it the band's most-viewed YouTube video.

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