Being Boring

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"Being Boring"
Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring.png
Single by Pet Shop Boys
from the album Behaviour
B-side"We All Feel Better in the Dark"
Released12 November 1990 (1990-11-12)[1]
RecordedMunich, 1990
GenreSynth-pop
Length
  • 6:48 (album version)
  • 4:50 (7-inch edit)
  • 10:40 (extended version)
LabelParlophone
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"So Hard"
(1990)
"Being Boring"
(1990)
"Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)" / "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?"
(1991)
Music video
"Being Boring" on YouTube

"Being Boring" is a song by English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys, released as the second single from their fourth studio album, Behaviour (1990). The song reached number 20 on the UK Singles Chart, marking the duo's first single to miss the top 10 since "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" in 1986.

Background, lyrics and music[edit]

The song is concerned with the idea of growing up and how people's perceptions and values change as they grow older. The title apparently materialised after someone in Japan accused the duo of being boring. The title is also derived from a Zelda Fitzgerald quotation, "she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring". In an interview in 1993, Neil Tennant described "Being Boring" as "one of the best songs that we've written", and said that "For me it is a personal song because it's about a friend of mine who died of AIDS, and so it's about our lives when we were teenagers and how we moved to London, and I suppose me becoming successful and him becoming ill."[2]

The track was originally demoed in a studio in West Glasgow, where the music for "My October Symphony", "The End of the World" and the unreleased "Love and War" were also written.[3] The lyrics for the first two verses – the first one about the parties (referencing the Fitzgerald quote on an invitation card) and the second about Tennant's life in Newcastle in the 70s – had materialised by that point, while the third verse was to be written closer to recording the song.[4] The final verse would be about "travelling the world in the 80s as the Pet Shop Boys" and wishing his (Tennant's) friend – who died of AIDS – was still there.

Later, the demo was presented to producer Harold Faltermeyer at Red Deer Studios, Munich, whose expertise in analog synthesizers would come to the forefront in the song's production.[4] The basis of the song was laid with Roland TR-808 and Roland TR-909 drum machines, plus a Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer.[4] Synthesizers used included a Roland Jupiter-8 (which makes up the layered textures in the introduction and the melody line throughout), an Oberheim OB-8 (which was blended with the Jupiter-8 for the main melody) and a Synclavier (for the harp glissandos).[4]

Further work was done at Sarm West Studios in London with Julian Mendelsohn; the "wakka-wakka" guitar line by J.J. Belle (influenced by Isaac Hayes's Theme from Shaft (1971)) was recorded there, among a few other parts.[4]

Live[edit]

In spite of the track's moderate commercial success, "Being Boring" has been played regularly at concerts and is widely considered amongst the greatest Pet Shop Boys songs by fans.[citation needed] It was not initially performed on the tour of 1991, Performance;[5] leading to many fans, including Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, complaining about its omission.[6] As a result, it was added as an encore late in the tour with the band commenting that it "invariably got the best reception of the night."[5] It has since become a mainstay of their live performances.

Critical reception[edit]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic called the song "wistful".[7] Music & Media commented, "Up-tempo, smooth and pushy pop from the Boys. The nervous groove is made out of a persistent rhythm guitar and a floating synth. A natural hit, produced by Pet Shop Boys and Harold Faltermeyer."[8] Selina Webb from Music Week wrote, "Hardly boring, but certainly one of their most gently-handled tracks. The Scandal-style productions puts the emphasis on the charming lyrics which deliver the Tennant muse in oblique phrases, not unlike those found in a New Order song. As usual its appeal in enhanced with each airing and, equally, it will enjoy a sustained chart performance."[9] Roger Morton from NME described "Being Boring" as "a scrapbook flick through his journey from expectant Northern youth in the '70s to a doubting '90s adulthood, burdened by unease and a sense of loss (of close friends)."[10]

Video[edit]

The music video, the first by fashion photographer Bruce Weber, totally in black and white, shows a house party and begins with a nude swimmer and a message: "I came from Newcastle in the North of England. We used to have lots of parties where everyone got dressed up and on one party invitation was the quote 'she was never bored because she was never boring'. The song is about growing up, the ideals that you have when you're young and how they turn out". Due to some brief shots of full male nudity throughout the clip, the video was banned from MTV and relegated to airing on the Playboy Channel.[citation needed]

B side[edit]

The B side, "We All Feel Better in the Dark" was written around a piece of music Chris Lowe had composed and features him as the lead vocalist. He said that "The idea came from a tape I bought from a health food shop round the corner from the studio: The Secrets of Sexual Attraction. The words are terrible. Awful. Embarrassing."[11] The track proved to be a fan favourite and was performed live during their Performance Tour in 1991.[citation needed] The remix 12-inch includes two mixes of the track by Brothers in Rhythm.

Track listings[edit]

7-inch: Parlophone / R 6275 (United Kingdom)

  1. "Being Boring" – 4:50
  2. "We All Feel Better in the Dark" – 4:00

12-inch: Parlophone / 12 R 6275 (United Kingdom)

  1. "Being Boring" (Extended Mix) – 10:40
  2. "We All Feel Better in the Dark" (Extended Mix) – 6:45
  • also available on CD (CDR 6275) which also includes the 7-inch mix

12-inch: Parlophone / 12 RX 6275 (United Kingdom)

  1. "Being Boring" (Marshall Jefferson Remix) – 9:05
  2. "We All Feel Better in the Dark" (After Hours Climax) – 5:30
  3. "We All Feel Better in the Dark" (Ambient) – 5:20

Charts[edit]

Chart (1990–1991) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[12] 82
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 30
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 27
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[15] 90
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[16] 27
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[17] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[18] 13
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 17
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[20] 66
Spain (AFYVE)[21] 13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[22] 16
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 16
UK Singles (OCC)[24] 20
US Dance Singles Sales (Billboard)[25]
with "Seriously"
10

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Being Boring". petshopboys.co.uk. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  2. ^ O Zone. BBC 2, 1993. http://www.10yearsofbeingboring.com/materials/interviews/printed
  3. ^ Remastered Behaviour liner note interview – Being boring Archived 28 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c d e Myers, Mark (27 February 2018). "'Being Boring': the Path to a Pop Elegy". wsj.com. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b sleevenotes Pet Shop Boys "Discography: the Complete Singles Collection"
  6. ^ 10 Years of Being Boring Trivia
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Previews: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 1 December 1990. p. 18. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  9. ^ Webb, Selina (17 November 1990). "Singles" (PDF). Music Week. p. 23. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  10. ^ Morton, Roger. "THE PET SHOP BOYS – Behaviour". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  11. ^ Remastered Behaviour liner note interview – We all feel better in the dark Archived 28 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Response from ARIA re: Pet Shop Boys ARIA chart history, received 29 May 2018". Retrieved 30 March 2020 – via Imgur. N.B. The "NAT" column displays the release's peak position on the national chart.
  13. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1474." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 8 no. 2. 21 January 1991. p. 31. OCLC 29800226 – via World Radio History.
  17. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 233. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  18. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Being Bored". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  21. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  22. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Pet Shop Boys: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Chart History (Dance Singles Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved 30 March 2020.

External links[edit]