Are PSB still a pop group?

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Janet Street-Porter
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Are PSB still a pop group?

#1 Post by Janet Street-Porter »

One of the things I've found salient about some of their recent interviews is how little attention they appear to pay to contemporary pop music. Okay, they namechecked Kanye West and specifically sought out Andrew Dawson because of his work on 808s and Heartbreak but the impression I get is that they barely listen to Top 40 stuff these days. Now that may be unsurprising for two fiftysomethings (I stopped following Top 40 stuff when I was about 25 though it did help that that coincided with the likes of S Club 7's imperial phase) but I've always categorised PSB as a pop group. They specifically aligned themselves with pop against rock in their early days as though a definitive choice had to be made.

But now I find myself wondering if the likes of Potemkin and the ballet have taken them beyond pop, to that dread pantheon of 'serious artists'.....

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worldofmyown
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#2 Post by worldofmyown »

Maybe. But what is pop anyway? If 'popular', then they never were popular. If anti-rock, then there must be something more. I like the 'sound' and depth of their music, but I would never dance to one of their dance mixes, or any other music come to that - maybe YMCA at a wedding or something. My point: I don't think they ever were pop; they just do their thing, mixing genres and generally being excellent in most things they touch. They are, as the song goes, their own demographic.

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Old Soak
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#3 Post by Old Soak »

Of course they are. I couldn't tell you a single thing in the Top 40. I never listen to Radio 1 anymore. For the 50 somethings that just isn't relevant, it's for teenagers. PSB make their own rules and consistently delight because of it. They should absolutely never pander to that world, they are above it.
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#4 Post by PoloPony »

This is a weird question! When they were doing this kind of music years ago it was pop, but now that "pop" music has become this horrible noise with all frequencies raised to the max, their music is no longer pop? I pray they will never change then!

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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#5 Post by Radiophonic »

They mentioned One Direction and Rihanna recently. Ego music is a song about contemporary pop.

I think pop music today is more diverse than it has ever been. Michael Buble, Rihanna, Pet Shop Boys, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Adele, Rebecca Ferguson are all very different pop singers but it's all still pop.
Last edited by Radiophonic on Sun 21 Oct 2012, 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BrilliantPSB
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#6 Post by BrilliantPSB »

They are a cult Pop group, no more a massive pop group.
What in essence is some sort of a contradiction since "Pop" comes from "Popular".
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#7 Post by Deschanel »

I think PSB have a deep and abiding love, atavistic nostalgia, for the very concept of "pop music", and they clearly are keeping their hand in the game. And hopefully will continue to do so.

But I think they're pretty philisophical about whether pop music has a place for them anymore. The pop music business has always been a tawdry, commercial arena that has turned over several times since the Boys started. Behind the scenes, it's not that glamourous, it's kind of sleazy and lowbrow. I think for years PSB have been gravitating much more towards the (powerful, elitist) art world than the pop world. There's more prestige there. They're closer to Gilbert & George than they are to Erasure, say. (But much better artists.) They're both pretty well-off, set for life, they can do what they want. Potemkin, a ballet, etc. It would be nice to be loved by the most people- as I said, they are keeping their hand in the pop music game. But, as snobby as this sounds: it's important that they are esteemed too by the right people. Cosmopolitans of discerning taste, and that actually seems the case. That video for "Invisible" is an art video, not a pop video. Not meant to appeal to the masses, necessarily.

I could be wrong, or expressed myself poorly, but that's my impression. They love playing the pop game, but they also have become almost a conceptual pop group, perhaps. Closer to art than commerce, maybe. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#8 Post by Drico One »

They are a fading cultural institution rather than a pop group. I don't think they've been a pop group since Closer to Heaven. By Nightlife, they could no longer be called "popular" in the true sense. In pure pop terms, they had no reason to go on as they'd become commercially irrelevant. The only reason to continue was artistic - or the distant, unrealistic hope that they could recapture the zeitgeist. They were too smart to genuinely believe in the latter, and have by-and-large embraced the former by effectively becoming their own genre, that of themselves.

Elysium was effectively about making the point that artists create art for its own sake. If it is popular, so much the better - but that's not a prerequisite to justify its creation. Your early stuff railed against the cynical materialistic and widely-held notion that there is no purpose other than money making. "Amazing that you lot come back for more", mused the taxi driver after asking "What's in it for you now, need the money?" The very idea that financial gain wasn't the raison d'etre seemed too preposterous to even consider.

It's obvious listening to Neil these days that making music is a way of life, something that defines him. Its commercial reception seems secondary to the process. Essentially, an artist doesn't need an audience to create art. A pop group does - just to exist. It's why Pet Shop Boys still exist today and why Bros don't.

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York Minster
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#9 Post by York Minster »

The change towards hip-hop and nu-metal and other horrid nu-genres from around 2000-2008 made this kind of question irrelevant during those years. There wasn't really a popular radio music that Pet Shop Boys could fit in with, nor did they try. (Well, I guess Release was their "rock" album, LIAC their "Creed" moment?)

Fast forward to today's radio hits, 2008 to 2012. Pop is back. There is a definite dance sound that is evolving again. I've noticed in the last couple months my crappy top 40 station has become almost all dance-pop, or at least songs that have some dance pop element. While a lot of this dance pop is overly sexualized from days of yore (and PSB don't do that), this is a huge turn from mid last decade. EDM and all that. And, yes, songs like Sexy and I Know It may start to sound cookie cutter and give way to imitators, but that also happened with dance music in the early 90s, and I'm not ashamed to admit I still like Mr. Vein and Rhythm of the Night (two songs PSB performed snippets of live).

Elysium has nothing to do with the current beat. Yes may have in the UK, I can't gauge that well, because we don't have groups like Girls Aloud here. But Together in 2010 was their attempt at a current dance record. It's debatable how successful it was on artistic merits, and quite telling it was their falling of the chart cliff moment. I think the "dance" album next year will answer this question. Will it be an updated Very/Relentless for 2013? Or are they just too old for that?

'Pop music should be popular. If it's not, there's something wrong.' Neil Tennant, Pet Shop Boys, being slightly boring.

Full article on unpop here: http://imomus.com/thought061000.html
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#10 Post by Radiophonic »

They would desrcribe themselves as a pop group (duo, whatever) so therefore they are. Neil and Chris are the most pop conscious people on the planet.
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#11 Post by jasonjohn »

So who IS a pop group?

One Direction?

They are so teen targeted, I'm not sure if that's "popular".

And if so, then Pet Shop Boys are a pop group for older folk.

Seems to me most big modern acts, like Gaga, focus on a demographic but have little context outside of it.

The days of big pop hits from bands with a generic appeal are gone.

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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#12 Post by Radiophonic »

Well, if One Direction aren't pop we may as well pack up and go home now.
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#13 Post by Drico One »

They're clearly art.

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Danimal
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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#14 Post by Danimal »

The problem as I see it is that pop music doesn't have a pantheon that acts enter once they are no longer top 40 yet still have a sizable audience in the same way that rock does. In rock music, such an act enters the realm of "classic rock" where the the songs of their imperial phase are played ad infinitum and may be saved from the underworld of "oldies." Are Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Elton John, The Captain and Tennille, Hall and Oats, Simon and Garfunkel, et al. pop? They were all certainly top 40 once upon a time yet none of them were ever rock, so then what strange afterlife do they go to?
For lack of a better phrase, I would classify PSB as classic pop--too well followed and recognized to slip into pop oblivion, too big to be considered a cult act. There're in that strange place that would be classic rock if they were a Pearl Jam.

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Re: Are PSB still a pop group?

#15 Post by Old Soak »

What are "pop" and "rock"? What happens to be in the charts now or everything that has gone before? The Kinks, Slade, Spandau Ballet - all pop but from very different eras. Does that render them invalid that their time has supposedly passed? I can appreciate plenty of music from before what is "my era", e.g. When I was a teenager, nothing to stop today's teenagers doing the same given exposure.
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