Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Se A Vida E" And "To Step Aside" Are Not Worth The Single!

The Good: Nothing actually terrible on the single.
The Bad: Short, Poor use of the medium, Songs are easily available on Bilingual.
The Basics: A blase single with no new content makes the radio release two-track single of "Se A Vida E" easy to pass by.

It is no small irony that the day before my local library managed to snag me a copy of the Pet Shop Boys album Bilingual for review that they managed to get me in a copy of the single "Se A Vida E," which was a single from that album. There are several versions of the "Se A Vida E" single, but the one that has only that song and "To Step Aside" appears to be a radio promotional single with the two tracks. Unfortunately, when one considers how mainstream radio was not playing much Pet Shop Boys in 1996 when this single was released, both songs are largely unrecognizable to U.S. audiences.

Indeed, the promotional single is a terrible investment for those who want to listen to the Pet Shop Boys as both songs are easily available on Bilingual. The promotional radio single would only be for those collecting every single possible disc by the band. Because the two songs are the same as the mixes on Bilingual, it is very easy to pass this c.d. single by. That said, the two songs are not terrible.

With only the two tracks - "Se A Vida E" and "To Step Aside" - this c.d. single is a poor use of the medium as it only fills 7:49 of the c.d.s capacity. Even so, it does represent the talents of the Pet Shop Boys well as they provide the lead vocals for the two songs, which they wrote. Chris Lowe plays the synthesizer and programmed the drum accompaniment for the song. In fact, the only thing the men of Pet Shop Boys did not do was produce the song.

"Se A Vida E" is an up-tempo song that has an almost salsa sound to it. The song features Neil Tennant singing about relationships with lines like "Come outside and see a brand new day / The troubles in your mind will blow away / It's easy to believe they're here to stay / But you won't find them standing in your way / Se a vida e', I love you / Come outside and feel the morning sun / Se a vida e', I love you / Life is much more simple when you're young / Come on, essa vida e' / That's the way life is" ("Se A Vida E"). As the title suggests, most of it is not in English and that might irk some, though the Latin flavor of the song plays well now that it is no longer just a fad. The simple rhyme schemes might not be impressive, but they work with the beats and sounds of the song.

"To Step Aside" is a slow, soft pop ballad for much of the song, which compliments well the other song. Somewhat more complex with its lines "I look from my window down to the square / At workers still queuing patiently there / For market forces to provide / What history's so far denied / For a different kind of fate / Than to labour long and always wait / And if I decide to step aside / I will try to return to the person inside," "To Step Aside" is a musing on personal relationships that compares a personal relationship to the forces of history and the idea is a good one.

Ultimately, though, there's not a reason to buy this single. Both of these tracks are on an easily-available studio album and there are single versions of "Se A Vida E" which have other remixes, so the listener gets more for their money in that case.

For other works by the Pet Shop Boys, please check out my reviews of:
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? (single)
Discography: The Complete Singles
Was It Worth It? (single)
I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More (single)
New York City Boy (single)
Pop Art: The Hits
Disco 3


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

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

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  1. Hi !

    If you want to hear great PSB tracks with a latin flavour, get the Domino Dancing single instead. Even its b-side, the dramatic track Don Juan is better than Se A Vida E.

    I don’t even remember what the song To Step Aside sounds like because to me, Bilingual is by far the worst Pet Shop Boys studio album ever and I never listen to it.

    The only good song on it is the one called Up Against It and they didn’t even release it as a single so even though I’m a fan, I try to forget 1996 and the fact that this particular album has ever existed.

    1. I was never much into the Latin pop music fad.

      Thanks for the comment and for reading!

  2. I was very much into latin music in the 90's and the 00's (Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias) but not so much anymore...