Like much of the best pop music, the Pet Shop Boys’ often fed on contrariness
(a contrariness which, as it happens, is fully embodied in the two Pet
Shop Boys’ natures). It is not surprising that one of the saddest songs
the Pet Shop Boys’ have ever written—Being boring—sounds
happy, and one of the happiest—Love comes
quickly—sounds heartbreakingly sad. It’s a far more realistic reflection
of how life is lived—you dance to shake off sadness, and you wallow
when you are happy, because wallowing is one of the luxuries which
happiness allows you.
Chris Heath, Essential booklet.
“You might be obsessed with the PSB if the profound genius and
aesthetic of Opportunities moved you to tears the first time you heard
The only PSB song that’s ever done this to me is Being boring.
Introspective mailing list.
For 12 years now, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have made the most
theatrical pop music in the world. Some of their songs—It’s
a sin, Rent, the high-kicking Can you
to have come from imaginary musicals. Others, like So hard or
Being boring, are themselves pocket-sized dramas.
Les Miserables, Somewhere concert review.
I like the way Being boring begins one way and then turns
into something else entirely a minute and a half in. Don’t
you? You don’t? But why in the world not?
The Pet Shop Boys are so resolutely playful that you sometimes
wonder what they’re avoiding. Most of the time, their
much-trumpeted “superficiality” is quite genuine—they like
gossip and champagne. But there’s something else going on. In
Pet Shop Boys songs, there’s almost always a yearning, pervasive
melancholy. Neil’s favorite song, and probably his most
personal, is Being boring from Behaviour. It looks back
to his youth in Newcastle, when he and his friends would get
drunk on barley wine and make impossibly glamorous plans.
Caren Myers, Details Magazine, 1993.
SEX: Always present in the Pet Shop Boys universe, sexuality has for a long
time been ambivalent. In the videos shot for the duo’s love songs,
heterosexuality is dominant, even though several clips feature some
homoerotic imagery, like the superb Being boring, directed by photograph
and film-maker Bruce Weber. Recently, in an interview for Attitude, Neil
Tennant, 40 years old, came out officially. First gay group to enjoy
worldwide success, the Pet Shop Boys don’t care about committing themselves
to the gay cause, but want to break the ghettos, regardless of their origin.
Le Nouveau Quotidien.
I don’t think Being boring was not good or commercial enough to
be a single. I think, whoever moans about it being released as a single,
only bases their opinion on its poor chart performance, which I have
concluded, was purely accidental. Being boring was the best thing PSB
had ever done from day one and it flopped because the public was wrong.
Maybe at that point, whatever they would release wouldn’t do well. They
were losing their teen appeal, pop was dying, everyone was sick of
classic pop stars. We are talking about the 1-2 years that SAW went down
the dumper, Kylie’s comeback single of 1991 only reached #16, Madonna
and Micheal Jackson were suffering from poor album and tour sales, while
their singles only made #7 or something and Smash Hits started writing
more about film and TV stars than pop stars. It was the change of the
decade and a period of massive changes in all aspects, so every 80’s
institute was being re-established. And I’d say, the boys survived the
whole thing in grace and are still quite popular in 1998, so sod Being
boring only reaching #20. If they were to re-release it now that even
non-PSB fans love it and the video is very high in any ‘Best pop video
ever’ chart, it would be a mega hit.
Thanos, Introspective mailing list.
Perfect opening track for an album. The atmosphere
to this tune is as thick as fog. The mood is layed
back, yet kind of “funky.” The lyrics are amazing—never to my
wildest dreams did I expect a song could be inspired by F. Scott
Fitzgerald’s crazy wife Zelda. Cool.
Introspective mailing list.
I don’t know how to answer that [Being boring is the best
Pet Shop Boys song ever]. I could rant about the lyrics (“I never
thought that I would get to be...” for instance). I could go on about
the marvellous chord change between the chorus and the verse. But what’s
the point in explaining all this? It’s one of the three PSB songs I
listen to constantly (with Left to my own devices and
Can you forgive her?) and the one I tend to rank higher.
Pierro, Introspective mailing list.
I think it’s the most beautiful song ever... everything about it
is just so perfect.
Meursault, Pet Shop Boys Hostboard discussion forum.
My first time actually relates to the first PSB album I bought.
It was Behavior in 1990.
My friend Kathy and I were shopping. We were in a shoe store and I heard them playing a song with a familiar voice, but I didn’t recognize the song. I asked the salesgirl and she told me it was Being boring by the Pet Shop Boys. Even though I was familiar with Pet Shop Boys from the radio and MTV, I had never felt the urge to buy any of their albums.
At that exact moment I knew I needed to get the album with Being boring on it. Yes, needed. Not just wanted, but needed. We left that store, went straight to a music store and I bought Behavior on tape. It was ecstasy at first listen.
Jeffrey Swanson, Introspective mailing list.
I finally got my [2001’s] reissuses and have been listening to them all week!
Talk about bringing back memories... Behaviour and Very
are still my favorite. I hadn’t listened to them in a while and there
is something about the song Being boring that I find just
amazing. I can listen to it over and over.
Robbie, Petheads mailing list.
Within this tradition of writing, the state of the soul and the state of
the world become mirrors for one another. For Pet Shop Boys, their elegy
to the rites of passage, Being boring, sums up the seductions of
nostalgia as they confront the maturity of hindsight—an assessment of
youth from the plateau of middle age. As a personal assessment of a
generation, which doubles in part as a requiem, Being boring
shares the ambience and energy of the late Derek Jarman’s film Glitterburg,
in which he montaged his archive of homemovie footage to make a luminous and
evocative autobiography in film which was both personal to its author and
universal to its period.
Michael Bracewell, Somewhere tour programme.
[a discussion about new versions of Pet Shop Boys songs]
While totally loving Daniel’s idea(s), for me Nervously is a song that I think is perfect as it is!
But I suppose I never thought I would like a reinterp of Being boring! Can’t wait for Montage. Can’t wait to see Neil fall again (taken out of context, that’s an odd thing to say).
Derek Donnell, Introspective mailing list.
[a discussion about favourite videos]
Honourable mention: Being boring. One of the few videos where the boys are never seen singing, that deserves a mention in itself. Too many videos overexpose the artists, when they really should be focusing on the song.
Of course, it’s also a great video and a great song.
Peterman, Pet Shop Boys Discussion forum at Sky Forums.
Being boring—pure soft-pop classyness, a masterpiece
among masterpieces. Always one of my (and many other Pet Shop Boys fans’)
top 5 Pet Shop Boys tracks.
Peterman, Pet Shop Boys Discussion forum at Sky Forums.
The Pet Shop Boys “sound” is not on Nightlife. Sure those are
great songs, but to compare Nightlife to Please and
Introspective is dangerous waters.
Saying Nightlife is better than Bilingual... well yeah, no shit.
When the Pet Shop Boys are done, the fans will remember West End girls and It’s a sin, and Always on my mind, and maybe Being boring and Go west. Anything newer than that... forget about it.
Bounce, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo.
“Does anyone else besides me thinks [Bilingual] is quite a disappointment if you
compare it to other PSB albums? It’s a great album of course, but not as
deep, sophisticated, and melodic as others.”
Agreed. One of the reason why Being boring is a favorite among PSB fans is the fact that it is immaculate synthesis of lush melody and rhythm. The songs on Bilingual are much more rhythm based (ie. Single, Before) although there are exceptions (e.g. The survivors), with Before being one of their least melodic piece ever. I also thought Bilingual is one of their least consistent album, where the quality of tracks vary noticably. It was their first album which I did not totally enjoy.
Gerwin Ho, alt.music.pet-shop-boys newsgroup, 1997.
Maybe I expected too much of Always. Everyone seemed to love it,
praising it, calling it a masterpiece, no matter what they thought about
Home and dry. The lyrics are great. I read them several weeks ago,
and judging by them, it didn’t seem unlikely that Always
indeed was a masterpiece.
It has grown on me. After the first listen, I was utterly disappointed. The melody still doesn’t really grab me. Better than Home and dry, but that’s not exactly hard (well, I’ve only heard Home and dry two times on the radio plus the ambient version on the official site once, so maybe I should keep my mouth shut yet). The worst thing is that Neil’s voice is ruined by Autotune. And I think the overall sound is too stiff and cold. Maybe I would have liked it more if it had sounded like Being boring, Hit and miss, Silver age, or something like that, but I doubt I would’ve rated it higher than, at the very most, 7/10.
Peterman, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
As an introverted, anti-social teenager in the 80s, I didn’t listen much to
the radio. I’d heard of PSB, but only their big hits over here like
Opportunities, Heart and Domino dancing which I dismissed as typical
radio pablum (I still don’t like these songs today, BTW).
Around the time I turned 20, I came out, and discovered all the good things in life :o). I still remember the night that I really discovered PSB... I was at a restaurant with some friends, and they were playing some mixed tape overhead. Being boring came on, and I was totally blown away. I asked one of my friends what it was, and I was rather surprised when he told me. Nonetheless, I literally ran out and bought the album after we finished eating. I was astounded... I didn’t even like pop music, and here was this album that was brilliant from start to finish! Needless to say, I soon grabbed every other album, single, remix, etc., that I could get my paws on. I’ve been hooked ever since.
But... it is sadly typical that this was at the very same point that they ceased to have major success in North America. I couldn’t believe that Being boring didn’t become a huge hit—it was the best song I’d ever heard! I still think that all of their efforts from Behaviour onward are far superior to what preceded it (okay, Bilingual was iffy in parts, and I don’t count Disco 2). But most of their 80s stuff lacks the depth and sophistication that make them so much more than just another pop act... pretty much everyone agrees that their 90s stuff is artistically superior to their 80s megahits, and yet....
I can’t believe Drunk flopped. I thought this was the best song they’d done since Being boring... possibly their best ever.
Graham Start, alt.music.pet-shop-boys newsgroup, 2000.
Poignant song about the passing of time and the faces who were once here,
but for circumstantial reasons—or otherwise—are no longer. Always
brings me back to the hopes and aspirations of college days. Everything was possible...
What can I say about my all time favourite song by anyone? It tells of one man’s
experience at the same time as making every individual listener think back to their
own past. Sometimes this makes you feel melancholic (which is a beatiful feeling), but
never sad and never regretful. It is a creed to follow—you’ll never be
bored if you are never boring. To me boredom equals death. I can
say that since I first heard this song I have never been bored, not for a minute. And
musically, has a melody and a lyric ever been so perfectly matched? The spare beginning
with different levels being added only to be dropped just before the harp and
the singing begins. There are enough musical ideas on this one song to fill
an entire album by anyone not the PSBs. I have never heard it and not been moved.
Being boring has my favorite lyric of all (“I never
dreamt that I would get to be...”) and is my favorite video
(along with I don’t know what you want but I can’t give it any more).
I never get bored or it. I don’t think it’s overated. The Danish job market,
on the other hand...
seriously, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
But hearing all these comments about the new album [Release] and the tour I feel
that if they were to release Being boring now most fans would feel
betrayed. It’s sad. Haven’t we learnt anything ? They’ve always made the
new album against the previous one. So this one is for me and a few
others. Be patient.
Pierre, Introspective mailing list, 2002.
A lot has changed since West End girls 17 years ago. It was one of
the finest debuts by any band, and perhaps never bettered by the boys.
They went through their pop stage (Love comes quickly), to wonderful
throwaway dance (It’s a sin), then disappointing progressive
(Being boring), overtly camp (Go West), Latin-esque (Se a vida
é) and then full-flare gay-disco (New York City boy). Whatever
they do, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are instantly recognisable, whether
it be from erstwhile wacky hats or just the feel of their powerful synths
layered with Tennant’s still choirboy vocals. But two and a half
years since Nightlife there has been a major change in direction. Guitars.
Neil Chase, CD WOW!, 2002.
Classic disco theatrics á la It’s a sin? No. Ballads at
PSB’s most moving since Being boring? In spades.
Using the Behaviour album as its marker—Johnny Marr is back
here [at Release], at his graceful best—what they lose in Hi NRG romps is balanced by
Neil Tennant offering the most impassioned vocals of his life.
A warm grower, it’s topped off with I get along. A scarves-in-the-air
epic by way of All The Young Dudes, nothing can get them back to No 1 if this doesn’t.
John Earls, Channel 4 Teletext, March 2002.
The defining moment in the Pet Shop Boys canon is a poignant backward
glance; the corresponding one in Pulp’s a stricken vision from the
future. On the Pets’ 1990 Being boring, as Chris Lowe
orchestrates a temps perdu swirl of mixed emotions, Neil Tennant calculates
an inventory of loss and remembers a narrow escape from predestined tedium:
“I’d bolted through a closing
door.” Jarvis Cocker recorded Countdown in 1992, his
band’s 14th year of semi-obscurity. It wasn’t the first Pulp
number to style itself as a Technicolor panic attack, nor would it be the
last; midway through, a paralyzing thought lodges in the singer’s
brain: “The time of my life / I think you came
too soon.” So much for living in the present.
Dennis Lim, Village Voice, 2002.
While it’s fair to use the dreaded tag “mature” for
their new ballad [Home and dry], it’s as aching as Being boring
and thus magic. For old PSB disco heaven, check the B-side Sexy Northerner.
And buy it. (4 stars out of 5)
Planet Sound, 2002.
One of Britain’s most enduring musical duos returns to the fold—and it
sounds like they haven’t been away. Neil Tennant’s unmistakable voice melded
with a wealth of wizardy from Chris Lowe runs throughout this album. New
single Home and dry—which showed they still have chart clout—combines
these two elements with simplicity. Tennant and Lowe sound whimsical and
relaxed, so if you are searching for something exciting, look elsewhere. The
dramatic edge of West End girls and It’s a sin—the pair’s greatest
moments—are not found here. Release jaunts along at a medium pace from
start to finish. It’s far from bad music, but it seems that these pop
veterans have rested on their laurels and chosen to stick with the sound
they are best known for. But there’s nothing wrong with Being boring when
you get a little older...
Michael Osborn, BBC Teletext, 2002.
I don’t know if I can say anything on
Being boring that hasn’t been said before though! I think the song really
connected with me instantly because of the lines about a cache of old photos
and the 1920s, since I actually collect antique photographs and I do have
pictures of flappers and such from the 1920s. :)
Fiona Lee, Introspective mailing list, 2002.
After too many months of waiting for new music from them, I just picked
up the Pet Shop Boys’ new album Behaviour, and rushed home to listen
to it. Here is my review, cut by cut.
Being boring – B+
Robert Christopher Chesnavich, rec.music.misc newsgroup, 1990.
[someone asked about a favourite line in Pet Shop Boys song]
From Being boring:
“When you’re young you find inspiration from
That line sums up the reason why I love the Pet Shop Boys.
Some relate to specific occasions. I was dancing around to Being boring in a drunken state at a friend’s party and just when it came to the line “you can always rely on a friend” I accidentally hit the CD player and the CD stopped playing. One of my mates then said “you can always rely on a friend to cock it up!”
shamelessboyuk, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
[in response to the same question]
Great question! My favorite PSB line is in my favorite PSB song, Being boring—“...and bolted through a closing door.” When I hear that line, it often sends chills down my spine when I realize what Neil is saying there, about how close he believes he came to near total, unavoidable obscurity. His success and fame came only because he made it through that “closing door” at the last minute. It’s chilling on several different levels–for Neil himself and also for his listeners.
In short, a wonderful line!
Wayne, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
In a frozen—by the air conditioning—basement at Technopolis
in Gazi, where soon after they played live, Pet Shop Boys singer,
Neil Tennant, welcomed me with a cheer for the T-shirt I wore, which
read “Never being boring”. “It’s too cold
down here,” I say, forgetting his British routes that lead him to
define heat wave at 28 C degrees. “It surely is much better
than outside,” he answers, and lies in the couch. In the meantime,
other half Chris Lowe, skips the interview to sunbath in the grass by the
large crew that follows the band around in their world tour [Release].
Downtown magazine, 2002, translated from Greek by Zeus On The Loose.
[a discussion on alt.cult-movies newsgroup]
Jerry R. Blevins:
This title came to me in a dream, and I’m wondering if this film actually exists. If so, what’s it about? Who’s in it? I could almost swear I heard of a film with this title some years ago.
The video was released in either 1990 or 1991. The title was inspired by a quote from Zelda Fitzgerald (the Boys are fiercely literate).
By the way, I hated that [Being boring] video... except for the
naked trampoline man! For such a moving and rather emotional song, I thought
the Bruce Weber video was a little too chic and shallow, pouty models and all...
SnowTibet, alt.music.pet-shop-boys newsgroup, 1999.
It’s a good enough song [Never gonna give you up by Rick Astley], but
I find SAW [Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman—a trio of songwriters and
producers responsible for a lot of 80’s hits] rather generic. It uses, as does just about
every song they’ve written, “The Chord Change.” Of course, really
I shouldn’t complain. Being boring wouldn’t be
Being boring without it.
ea19, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
Funny, as so many people, and I mean so many people,
think Being boring was PSB’s strike of brilliance and their best
song ever, that song is—to me—very boring. It is probably my second
least favourite PSB track, despite the lyrics being as brilliant as they are. It
was also their first single to not hit the Top 10 in the UK... hehehe. I guess
I just personally prefer them when they are fully of NRG, hence why Behaviour
is my least favourite album, despite it having one fo their strongest songs ever,
So hard. But to each his own, for sure.
Damion, Madonna forum, 2003.
I had exactly the same thoughts on the [I get along] video. I thought
it an unsuccessful attempt to re-create the (brilliant) Being boring video.
Besides, we’re treated to less PSB in this vid! Two appearances from
Neil and a “blink and you’ll miss it” one off from Chris.
PSB need to re-discover the great video. They haven’t had one in a long time.
StevePSB, Pet Shop Boys Community forum at Aimoo, 2002.
Just saw the background mix video for the first time (it’s been on my hard disk for
a long time now, but as usual I saved it for the perfect moment) and my...
It’s so good. The original Being boring video will never be surpassed
but this video fits the song oh so well also. An amazing experience to see the video
full screen in a dark room with the music “dead loud.” The
song and video sent shivers down my spine once again—which makes
Being boring one of the only songs to do so, especially so often.
Maarten N., private correspondence, 2002.
[Behaviour] is such a sad record, but at the same time it’s
full of disappointment and hope. Being boring is one the most perfect
and pure portraits of friendship and loss feeling ever written, but the
whole album moves to these themes with an increasing emotional power and ironic
stuff about buried feelings and social powers (This must be the place I waited
years to leave, the stunning orchestrated Only the wind,
So hard and Jealousy). Unforgettable, but a bit forgotten.
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