Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

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geowayne
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Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#1 Post by geowayne »

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors what they believe to be the primary reason for "Being Better" somewhat "under-performing" as a single. And the choice that received the most votes was:

* "It didn't sound very much like the Pet Shop Boys that people had come to know and expect," picked by 25.1% of the voters.

To see the complete results, please visit my "Commentary" site at http://www.geowayne.com/psbhtml.htm and select one of the "Past Survey Results" options in the top navigation bar or click the appropriate link on my "What's New?" page.

My new survey for the week ahead asks when, to the best of your recollection, was the last time that you "evangelized" for the Pet Shop Boys -- that is, you tried to convince someone else of how good they are, or perhaps even tried to "convert" them to a fan. So please take a moment to make your choice right there on my home page.

Thanks to everyone who voted in last week's survey! And I hope you all have a great week ahead!

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Drico One
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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#2 Post by Drico One »

Being boring just wasn't all that commercial. Neither was Behaviour. There was nothing - other than So hard - on that album that was in the same throwaway class as what went before. And it wasn't just its lack of commercialism that harmed its chances. Their tide was slowly going out. In the UK, much of the media's attention was turning to Madchester and rave. Neil and Chris just didn't fit into this. It took hugely OTT covers (Streets, Go West, and funny hats on Can You Forgive Her?) to get them back in the public eye. In fact, only lead singles had a chance of charting well for them - post-album singles like Jealousy or anything from Very failed to go top 10, no matter how commercial - and even DJ Culture flopped despite being brand new.

It's a combination of factors. Behaviour entered the UK top 40 album chart at number 2 and then fell to 6. The third week really confirmed how poorly it was selling, though, when it plunged to 20. This was off the back of So hard, which entered at 4 and then fell to 5. And nobody could accuse that single of being "boring". I don't think there was much they could have done differently. So hard might have seemed like "much the same as what went before", and a bit samey to the public, but it's hard to claim that and then criticise Being boring for being different. Their fifteen minutes were running out.

It was a fascinating period to be a fan, though. Oh, the drama.

Drico.
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joeythecat
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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#3 Post by joeythecat »

Being boring was the fine example of why PSB were called "The Smiths you could dance to," complete with the interpolated intro of "The Queen is Dead." It was wistful,it was melancholy, it was nostalgic, it was not pop, it was not a hit, it is a great song. I respected the fact they released it as a single. At the time I was surprised they did not release "My October Symphony" Instead. When the album was released I thought Behaviour had some Rough spots with the production on "to face the truth" and "only the wind" as well as "Seriously" and an overt gay love song, which no one did back then, with "Nervously." They definitely were chilling out from their all night party of Introspective. But Behaviour was important as it was a real artistic move, from pop to thought provoking songcraft, I think the dance hits gave people the assumption that they were fluff, Behaviour made people take notice, and see them as a serious act and not just a fad, in the long run it was much more important than having a big hit record.

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CroMagnon
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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#4 Post by CroMagnon »

Agree with Drico that the essential problem was that PSB's time as a mainstream commercial act was running out. There were a few other things at play though, I think.

1) The public image of PSB from the imperial phase - of a cool detachment born of white album covers, high fashion, the classic Top of the Pops appearances and blow up jackets - had been replaced by a feeling that PSB were actually posh, 'up themselves' ... and a bit dull. 1990-91 was the era of 'At Home with The Pet Shop Boys' on Radio One, and the Mary Whitehouse Experience parody. Their image for the Behaviour period in the autumn of 1990 also had quite a harsh 'out of touch' look that didn't help; there were shaven heads (Neil's receding hairline could no longer be hidden by It's Alright curls!), black and white videos, and performances in raincoats.

2) At some point in this era, Top of the Pops moved to live vocals. This really didn't help Neil at all, and fed into a narrative in the public consciousness that PSB were 'untalented', overrated, and holdovers from a previous age of manufactured synth pop.

3) Re. the song itself, I don't think Being boring came across well on FM radio. The synths build beautifully through the song, but this is lost on a poor stereo system. The middle eight lacks any immediate, euphoric drama, and there's no catchy riff to latch onto. It sounded overly intellectual, too clever for its own good, and a bit meandering to the average punter I suspect.

... but it's my favourite song from my favourite PSB album, should have been a massive Number One hit, and should be revered as one of the greatest achievements in modern pop music, obviously!
Love comes quickly, but is a catastrophe and a bourgeois construct etc.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#5 Post by joe stalin »

I’ve never been bowled over by being boring. It’s good and lyrically quite clever but it stumbles terribly with the fought and thoughts mismash. Also they got all pretentious in the Q article about how they wrote it and just came over a bit too knowing. Hey mr songwriter.

Behaviour to me is in the top 6 albums of theirs but not the top 3 by a long way. Please, actually and very hold the top 3. Being boring doesn’t even make my top 10 of theirs, probably not even top 20.

All in all I think back to it’s chart success. It reached number 19 in the Uk charts. Same as Love Comes Quickly and Losing my Religion by R.E.M.

Of the three tracks I’d put Love comes quickly at the top of the tree.12 inch version obviously

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#6 Post by CroMagnon »

joe stalin wrote: Sun 04 Mar 2018, 7:17 pm It’s good and lyrically quite clever but it stumbles terribly with the fought and thoughts mismash.
For a long time, I thought it was "We dressed up in thoughts, and thoughts make amends" ... which I still think is better than the actual lyric! In my mind, the idea was that Neil didn't care about how he looked, it was ideas that mattered ... he dressed himself "in thoughts", and these thoughts could make amends for things he and his friend had done wrong. Yes, I was a deeply pretentious 16 year old.
Love comes quickly, but is a catastrophe and a bourgeois construct etc.

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billjermaine
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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#7 Post by billjermaine »

Not sure why the boys were surprised this didn’t chart so well. It was always a concern as a single. Bit too wordy & adult for the kiddies that were buying singles. Chorus melody was ok but soft compared to their previous. Should’ve remained a beautiful 6:49 album track.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#8 Post by Nervously »

Another possible factor is that the vocal is much softer - almost a whisper - than what people were used to in a pop song with a male singer. Still, you never know when such distinctive elements will work in a single's favour.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#9 Post by Techtonic »

As brilliant as it is as a song, it just isn't a single. Singles are essentially a pitch for an album; you have 3 minutes to win someones attention and convince them to then go out and actually make a purchase (no online back then).

As has already been pointed out, Being Boring is far to delicate and nuanced to really catch the attention of the causal listener over a car stereo and/or screaming kids in the background etc. In that sense, it was one of a series of mis-steps by them/Parlophone; someone really should have been brave enough to make the point that it's a brilliant song but a really awful single.

A bit like trying to sell a vintage wine in a Walkabout pub.

ps- Being Remixed was excellent though.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#10 Post by negative1 »

An edit of the marshall jefferson (being remixed) version would have probably done better.

later
-1

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Drico One
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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#11 Post by Drico One »

While I agree that the song was not "a single" in the traditional, throwaway, instantly catchy sense, I disagree with anybody who thinks it should not have been a single.

The very fact it was means the song itself has acquired a standing that equally magnificent tracks that remained hidden on albums, such as The way it used to be, or even worse, on bonus albums, like Fugitive, never did. While Being boring failed as a single in its own right, it did advertise their maturity as artists - something that distinguished them from contemporary pop acts. It amplified hidden depths and, in its own way, brought them to the attention of people who would not have previously considered them. When Axl Rose and Trent Reznor are fans of the song, then you've crossed into uncharted territory.

Besides, the artwork, the Zelda quote embossed on the sleeve, the video, the sheer adolescence of it all makes it a landmark Pet Shop Boys single regardless - or even in spite of - its commercial failure. As a fan, just holding the CD single or 12 inch in the shop was a quasi-religious experience. You wanted to absorb the magic of it all - because this was one of the great examples of them creating a world all of their own. And almost because the single and its parent album had struggled commercially, this world seemed all the more secret. As you entered it, you felt part of the great conspiracy. And yes, we all felt better in the dark.

Drico.
The pale kid that hides in the attic behind his PC...

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#12 Post by TallThinMan »

Drico One wrote: Mon 05 Mar 2018, 11:17 pm Besides, the artwork, the Zelda quote embossed on the sleeve, the video, the sheer adolescence of it all makes it a landmark Pet Shop Boys single regardless - or even in spite of - its commercial failure. As a fan, just holding the CD single or 12 inch in the shop was a quasi-religious experience. You wanted to absorb the magic of it all - because this was one of the great examples of them creating a world all of their own. And almost because the single and its parent album had struggled commercially, this world seemed all the more secret. As you entered it, you felt part of the great conspiracy. And yes, we all felt better in the dark.

Drico.
100% this! For reasons too boring to go into, I ended up buying the Being Boring single on all formats i.e. cassingle, CD single, 7" and 12" and I cherished them. In spite of the commercial decline it was a good time to be a fan. I've never much cared for the single mix though - it doesn't work anywhere near as well with that truncated intro.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#13 Post by Blaahh »

I think the missing point is time, it was a long time between the imperial phase and So Hard, nearly two years. In that time house, acid, rave and indie took uk tastes miles from 1988 pop. It was nothing to do with Being Boring, everything to do with pop tastes and fashion.

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#14 Post by oakey »

BB is always called a fan favourite, but it's not mine. Too long, too boring. The lyrics are nice, but indeed it's all a bit too pretentious. Also, I am no huge ballads/mid tempo fan, although PSB have written a few decent ballads or mid-tempo songs that I do like (Only the wind, Indefinite means, The theatre, some stuff on Elysium).

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Re: Final results of poll on why "Being Boring" under-performed as a single

#15 Post by TallThinMan »

oakey wrote: Wed 07 Mar 2018, 8:22 am Being boring is always called a fan favourite, but it's not mine. Too long, too boring. The lyrics are nice, but indeed it's all a bit too pretentious. Also, I am no huge ballads/mid tempo fan, although PSB have written a few decent ballads or mid-tempo songs that I do like (Only the wind, Indefinite means, The theatre, some stuff on Elysium).
I’m always fascinated by the classification of Being Boring as a ballad or mid-tempo song. It has a softer edge, but it’s the same tempo as So Hard.

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