Lights! Models! Guest list! What do you suppose is the biggest Pet Shop Boys hit in Australia? Go West or West End Girls? Nope. Oh, it’s gotta be It’s A Sin or Always On My Mind then. The latter famously denied The Pogues pole position. Most definitely not. Well, maybe Heart or What Have I Done To Deserve This??
Are you ready for this? All of the above were No.1 somewhere in the wider world, but not one of them made the Top 5 in the la la land of Skippy, Kylie and Jason. Sigh.
PSB’s only single to reach the upper echelons of the Aussie Arias is…. not even a song at all. It’s Absolutely Fabulous, which made No.2 in 1994 – not exactly the boys’ finest year for a multitude of reasons – and, even worse, is the dynamic duo’s last top tenner Down Under. And yes, I can imagine some of you less charitable sorts saying it sounds like a No.2 too. Techno, techno, bloody techno! Ho, ho, ho!
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were big fans of the British TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous. That’s hardly a surprise. The razor-sharp putdowns and abominable antics of girls behaving badly were pretty revolutionary at the time. I don’t think I’d ever heard my flatmate Judi belly laugh so much at anything more than the uproarious first series before or since. Even David Bowie tried to get in on the act, attempting to secure the rights to produce an American remake that would have starred Iman in the role of Patsy.
According to the seminal synthmeisters themselves – tongue firmly in someone’s cheek, no doubt – they came up with the idea for the 2 Unlimited-pastiching high energy campery merely as an excuse to meet and have lunch with the show’s two stars, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. To seal the deal all profits would benefit the BBC’s Comic Relief charity.
The only lyrics Tennant utters in the whole four minute showbiz shebang are ‘We’re Absolutely Fabulous’, the rest of the vocals being admittedly delicious dialogue soundbites courtesy of Jennifer and Joanna; some specially recorded, but most taken directly from Fashion, the peerlessly prescient first episode which debuted in 1992.
Sadly this sad ‘song’ situation says so much about antipodeans that, rather than any their countless other rather more erudite compositions, AbFab is the boys’ most successful Oceanic chart performance ever. Yup, it’s PSB’s biggest in New Zealand too, flaming Kiwis. Hell, some of their other singles even make their greatest hits compilations, unlike this absolutely atrocious aberration. Don’t pump up the volume.
Ironically the Pets’ second highest charting single in Aus is another comedy record: the U2-Four Seasons monster mash-up, Where The Streets Have No Name-Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, made No.9. But who can resist it when it’s given a live outing, complete with Neil low-kicking his way through the da-DAHHHs with gold lamè cowboys? I do hope they were wearing Lacroix, sweetie.