Pet shop boys - go west

Pet shop boys - go west
music

Pet shop boys - go west

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Description

Go West is a song by the 1970s disco group Village People. The song eventually found greater success when it was covered in 1993 by the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys.

In 1992, when Pet Shop Boys were asked by Derek Jarman to perform at an AIDS charity event at The Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, Chris Lowe of the duo selected "Go West" as the song they would perform. Though singer Neil Tennant was unable to remember the lyrics during that performance, the two decided to record it as a single.

The original single version of the song, set for an earlier release in 1992 as a non-album single, was never used; both it, and its similarly unreleased B-side "Forever in Love", were eventually released on the 2001 expanded reissue of Very. The final single release, in 1993, was the second single from Very, and included remixes by Brothers in Rhythm, Farley & Heller, Kevin Saunderson, and Mark Stent; the new B-side, "Shameless", went on to be included in the band's 2001 musical, Closer to Heaven. The 1993 single release went to number two in the United Kingdom and number one in Germany; in both countries, it was their biggest hit of the 1990s or the 2000s (so far). "Go West" has since become Pet Shop Boys' traditional concert closer.

Musically, the new version played up the basis of the original's chord progression in Pachelbel's Canon, bringing the theme to the forefront in the opening of the song. In addition to the Canon elements, the new version also includes thematic elements from the old Soviet Union anthem. The song also underwent extensive reworkings of its instrumental tracks, with producers Stephen Hague and Mark Stent credited for the mixing, as well as an all-male Broadway choir (said by Tennant to be inspired by the song "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" from the Broadway musical South Pacific). In addition, Tennant and Lowe inserted a new section to the song, with the lyrics:

There where the air is free
we'll be what we want to be
Now if we make a stand
we'll find our promised land

Where the original was sincerely idealistic in its depiction of a utopia, the Pet Shop Boys version, characteristic of the band, introduced a layer of subtext — here, sadness and a hopeless optimism, inspired by the aftermath of the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and how it had affected the supposed utopia of the original version.

In addition, the music video of the new version introduced Soviet imagery (such as red stars), showing troops of identical men marching up a staircase stretching into the clouds, with the Statue of Liberty looming in the distance — seemingly towards a promised Western utopia. Directed by Howard Greenhalgh, the video relied heavily on computer-generated imagery, as was the case with his entire series of videos for the Very singles.

One of the few real-life elements were Tennant and Lowe, dressed in blue and yellow bodysuits and round, domed helmets (among a series of costumes they adapted for promotion of the singles from Very); one of the few real-life backdrops used was Red Square, Moscow, which the pair are seen walking through, while wearing the costumes. (The costumes were parodied in the video for their later 2006 single, "I'm with Stupid".) Adding to the Soviet theme, the song also drew comparisons to the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. The video was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1995, losing to "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones.

Years later, when Pet Shop Boys closed their set at the July 2, 2005 Moscow Live 8 concert in Red Square with the song, the Russian audience could be heard singing along.

The original music video for the Pet Shop Boys version of the song prominently features Communist iconography, especially the red star and red flags selectively obliterating scenes. The Statue of Liberty is also shown, frequently with a red crown, and at least once is seen to appear to crumble as the red-crowned troops dressed in white advance across the landscape of the video.

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Tags

pop | 80s | synthpop | electronic | dance