The song's primary inspiration is the 1984 Penelope Spheeris film Suburbia, and its depiction of violence and squalor in the suburbs of Los Angeles; in addition, the tension of the Brixton riots of 1981 and of 1985 hanging in recent memory led Neil Tennant of the duo to thinking about the boredom of suburbia and the underlying tension among disaffected youth that sparked off the riots at the least provocation.
The various versions of the song are punctuated by sounds of suburban violence, riots and smashing glass, as well as snarling dogs on the re-recorded single version (extended even further on the music video), which were derived from typical scenes in suburbia. The Please version of the song sounds very sparse in comparison. The version used for the video was the song that appeared on the PopArt compilation in 2003.
The B-sides to the single were "Jack the Lad" and "Paninaro". "The Full Horror mix" of Suburbia and the Italian Mix of Paninaro, which appeared on the Suburbia 12", both also appeared on the Pet Shop Boys' album Disco, and were later collected on the 2001 2-disc re-release of "Please".