Pet Shop Boys

West End Girls

Composed by Chris Lowe / Neil Tennant

Song Review by

Already an underground hit in its earlier version, recorded with New York dance legend Bobby O, when Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe re-recorded and re-released the song via EMI in late 1985, it slowly but surely rose to be a number one smash on both sides of the Atlantic. It was one heck of a way to come to public attention and still stands out as a peak of the Pet Shop Boys' career, not to mention arguably being one of the first hip-hop singles to go top of the charts. That may seem strange, but it's pretty obvious Tennant is delivering the verses in his own English style of flow; he confirmed in later years that the source of inspiration was the Grandmaster Flash single "The Message." Lyrically, though, his focus is slightly different, a focus on class as much as inner-city pressure (though he later said that the commonly accepted vision of the song being about rough trade was not the intent). Lowe and producer Stephen Hague created a snaky, obsessive rhythm punch for the music, relentless and full-bodied, classically '80s in sonic style but with a heft that most other mainstream productions couldn't hope to touch. Lowe's sonic signature of synth melodies balanced between restrained chill and sweeping, cinematic wash is well in place, while the dramatic slow start, fading up from a Hague-taped walk in the streets near the studio, is perfectly gripping.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1985
Disco 1986 Disky 9:02
Please 1986 EMI Music Distribution
The Best of "O" Records, Vol. 2 1989
Various Artists
Hot Productions 4:50
Discography: The Complete Singles Collection 1991 EMI Music Distribution 3:55
Videography 1991 Picture
No Image 1992 International Video Enterprises
Pop & Wave, Vol. 2 1993
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:44
The Best Disco in Town [Hippo] 1993
Various Artists
Hippo 4:02
Guardian Angel: Die 80er Jahre 1993
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 4:51
Megamix [#1] 1994 ZYX Music 3:28
Mixes 1994 Hot Tracks 7:48
Disco Fox, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
ZYX Music 5:00
O Records 12" Collection 1995
Various Artists
Awesome 7:53
Hit That Perfect Beat, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Oglio Records 7:48
Gay Anthems, Vol. 2: Out Standing 1995
Various Artists
Hot Productions 7:51
Les Années Disco: 20 Tubes Disco 1995
Various Artists
Arcade Music 3:21
Best of Dance 1986 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 3:21
Mega Disco 1996
Various Artists
Wotre Records
Essential Pet Shop Boys 1998 EMI-Capitol Special Markets
Glad to Be Gay, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
SPV 5:03
No Image 1998 EMI-Capitol Entertainment Prop.
Now: 1985 [2 CD] 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 3:53
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Universal] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Disc Two] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:53
Classic Alternatives, Vol. 4 2000
Various Artists
SPG 7:48
Maximum 80's, Vol. 3 2000
Various Artists
Disky 7:51
Montage: The Nightlife Tour [Video] 2001 Parlophone
Summer Hits Mix Classics 2002
Various Artists
ZYX Music
PopArt: The Hits 2003 Parlophone 4:45
No Image 2004 Parlophone
Capital Gold British Legends 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:52
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
#1's: 38 of the Greatest #1 Singles of All Time 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:00
Performance: The Classic 1991 Live Show Enhanced [DVD] 2004 EMI Music Distribution / Parlophone
Now That's What I Call Music Years 2004
Various Artists
Virgin 3:51
Best of 80's Rock, Vol. 2 [Atracao Fonografica] 2004
Various Artists
Atracao
Best #1 Singles in the World Ever 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:51
1S - 38 of the Greatest Number 1 Singles of All Time 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:59
Real 80's: Hits and Extended Mixes 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 6:31
Maxi-CD Collection 2005 ZYX Music
U 40 Partykracher 2005
Various Artists
ZYX Music
Megamix [#2] 2005 ZYX Music 5:46
Ohrwürmer [MCPS] 2005
Various Artists
MCPS 4:50
Numb 2006 Parlophone 4:53
Life in Pop 2006 UMVD
Concrete 2006 EMI / Parlophone 4:53
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Cubism [DVD] 2007 Rhino
80's: The Definitive Hits Collection [Digipack] 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:51
80's Super Hits: The Best Selection of Eighties' Greatest Hits 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:48
Superhits Collection 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:48
No Image 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:47
80's Box: The Ultimate Compilation Of Eighties Hits 2009
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:50
Anthems: Electronic '80s 2009
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 3:58
Pandemonium 2010 Parlophone 5:14
Ultimate Pet Shop Boys 2010 Parlophone 4:05
The Brit Awards 2012 2012
Various Artists
Universal 4:03
Now That's What I Call a No. 1 2012
Various Artists
EMI / EMI TV / Joint Venture 4:02
Isles of Wonder: Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games 2012
Various Artists
Decca 2:26
A Symphony of British Music: Music for the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games 2012
Various Artists
Classics & Jazz / Decca / Universal Music 2:14
Stars 80: La Compil' Officielle, Vol. 2 2015
Various Artists
TF1 Musique
Triple J: 40 Years of Music 2015
Various Artists
ABC 4:46
80's The Definitive Hits Collection
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:50
80s Party Hits
Various Artists
Euro Trend 4:03
Best of 1986: 20th Century Masters
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:53
Hits, Vols. 1-2: '60s, '70s, '80s
Various Artists
Mediterrano
Keep Calm & Head to London
Various Artists
Music Brokers 4:49
No Image Hot Tracks 7:48
blue highlight denotes editor's pick