Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Poor Pet Shop Boys Single "New York City Boy" Reincarnates The Village People!

The Good: Good dance sound
The Bad: Ridiculously short, Poor use of the medium, Not the best Pet Shop Boys song.
The Basics: A disappointing one-track single, "New York City Boy" is not a great Pet Shop Boys song, nor worth shelling out for.

In my month of studying the Pet Shop Boys, I managed to get in a lot of music, which was pretty surprising to me. I reviewed albums like Discography and singles like "How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?" I found a lot to like. Sadly, "New York City Boy" was not one of the singles I enjoyed. My wife, who has put up with the monthlong study had been caught humming some of the songs occasionally. Still, I know there were many more moments when she turned to me, almost angrily and asked, “What, are they working with the Village People now?!” The big moment like that came at the beginning of the Pet Shop Boys song “New York City Boy” which is one of the singles that was released to promote the album Nightlife.

Interestingly enough, there is only one version of the “New York City Boy” single which has only the title track on it and that was the radio-release single. Unfortunately, for those who are Pet Shop Boys fans, that version of “New York City Boy” is not even the full version! For both true audiophiles and fans of the Pet Shop Boys, there are far better versions of the single available for purchase. The only people who will actually need the radio-release single are the die-hard collectors of ALL things Pet Shop Boys.

With only a single track occupying 3:20 on a single c.d., “New York City Boy” for the radio-release single is about two minutes shorter than the album cut of the song. It is very much a Pet Shop Boys song, though, as it was written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe and the duo share a production credit on the song. Outside the opening sample, Tennant provides all of the lead vocals and Chris Lowe takes care of the keyboard and drum programming.

Unfortunately, “New York City Boy” is very much a typical, inane dance-pop track. The song is percussion-driven and with the opening sample with a men's chorus, it sounds very much like a Village People song. The keyboards are sublimated to the percussion and the vocals and as a result, this sounds like a song to dance or exercise to. It does not resonate and after the first few spinnings, its tune is almost entirely lost in a haze of percussion and Tennant's vocals.

As for the vocals, Neil Tennant provides his trademark smooth sound and on “New York City Boys,” he sing-speaks the lyrics more than anything else. One of the lower register songs in his repertoire, “New York City Boys” is more of a chant than a song.

Sadly, it's not much of a song from the lyrics either. This is a musical storysong which is one of the less impressive lyrical outings from the Pet Shop Boys. With lines like “The street is amazing / The hoochies unreal / Check out all the hardware / At the latest deal / Hear a song / That's the bomb / If you don't get the mix / It's got eighty-six / You feel the deal is real / You're in New York City / New York City boy / You'll never have a bored day / 'Cause you're a New York City Boy / Where Seventh Avenue meets Broadway” the Pet Shop Boys don't even seem to be trying for anything other than silly dance pop. The rhyme scheme is predictable and fairly droll and the lyrics are not so much a story as they are a walk through a rhyming dictionary.

“New York City Boy” lacks the sense of experience or the sense of commentary that most Pet Shop Boys songs possess. Combined with the way this single underuses the medium which has so much more potential capacity, it is easy to avoid the one-track single of “New York City Boy.”

For other Pet Shop Boys works, please check out my reviews of:
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? (single)
Discography: The Complete Singles


For other music reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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  1. Hi. To be honest, even though I am a Pet Shop Boys fan, I must admit that I really don't like that song either and to me, Nightlife is with Bilingual one of the worst Pet Shop Boys albums as well.

    Unfortunately, since their cover of the Village People's classic Go West went to number one worldwide back in 1993, they often try, since, to go back to that style of music, once in a while (with New-york city boy in 1999 and Love etc. in 2009).

    But I usually don't like when people yell the choirs and choruses instead of singing them, that's the reason I'll never be a fan of the Village People or Bananarama !

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I didn't know "Go West" was a Village People song! I'm right there with you on yelling the chorus!

      Thanks for reading.