It is 30 years since the Pet Shop Boys released their debut album “Please” with its flagship single “West End Girls”.
Emblematic of much of 1980s synth-pop at the time (cascading synths, electronic melodies, arpeggios, pulsating drum rhythms), the album “Please” brought Pet Shop Boys great prominence in the UK and US, thanks to a No1 placing on both sides of the Atlantic with their debut single “West End Girls”.
Despite its great commercial success, there’s one fundamental element of “Please” by the Pet Shop Boys that appears to have been ovelooked; the album remains a cultural touchstone in popular music, not only for its sonic influence, but for what “Please” (and the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe themselves) represents in terms of sexuality and LGBT representation in pop music.
To put it into perspective, “Please” was released during a pivotal period of the gay rights movement. The US was five years into the AIDS crisis; a disease ravaging the gay community in the UK and US. So, intentional or not, Pet Shop Boys’ timing was right in that the duo broke sexual taboos in pop, and it all started with the worldwide hit “West End Girls.”