Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“Was It Worth It?” For The One-Track Single, No.



The Good: Good sound, Good vocals, Generally decent lyrics
The Bad: Short, Poor use of the medium.
The Basics: One of the more mediocre Pet Shop Boys singles is released as a poor rendering on the one-track radio single that has filtered into the secondary market.


On the old site I used to review for, they often had listings for single-track c.d. single releases, the type which were given to radio stations as opposed to the commercially available ones. I reviewed many and have been transferring those reviews over to my new blog! Today’s is “Was It Worth It?” For those unfamiliar with “Was It Worth It?,” the single was released in the early 1990s as Europe was seeing a revival of disco (Ace Of Bass, for example, was about to form and break out!) and it was largely overlooked in the United States. There were several versions of the single released, but the only one that has just the title track was the radio-release single and it is arguably the inferior single of the lot.

As a cut from the anthology album Discography, “Was It Worth It?” represents one of the new tracks by the duo and it was a very standard dance track by the Pet Shop Boys. It does not represent one of their best musical outings, though it is certainly not one of their worst. In the end, the track itself is mediocre, though the c.d. single easily is not worth getting because of the poor use of the medium (very short) and the fact that other versions have b-side and remix tracks to accompany this song.

With only one song occupying 4:22 on a c.d., “Was It Worth It?” is a fair representation of the Pet Shop Boys’ creativity at the time. The song was written by the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. Tennant provides the lead vocals and Chris Lowe provides the keyboards and drum programming. The band is credited as co-producers on the song as well.

Unfortunately “Was It Worth It?” is stiflingly average, especially in the instrumental accompaniment. While many Pet Shop Boys songs have recognizable melodies and harmonies, “Was It Worth It” is very generic dance-pop music with a strong percussion section and keyboards that throb. But having listened to the single eight times in a row, I cannot recall the melody and I know I will forget it pretty much by the time the review is done.

In a similar vein, Neil Tennant’s vocals are exactly what one might expect from him. He has a smooth, articulate voice and on “Was It Worth It?” he is pretty firmly lodged in his tenor range. His superlative quality here is that he performs the lyrics slower and louder than the instrumental accompaniment so he may be actually heard.

As for the song itself, it is not a knockout of great writing. Still, at least it does not have consistently horrible rhymes. The song is about conflict in relationships and a relationship that has fallen apart. The musical protagonist argues and asks “Well I don't know why / I was dreaming about you / But I do know that / I was dancing without you / Then you smiled / And I was lost / You fall in love / Why count the cost? / All I gave to you / All you made me do / I react / When I hear people ask / Was it worth it? / Yes it's worth living for / Was it worth it? / Yes it's worth giving more.” The song succeeds lyrically only because of the nihilistic sense that the questions go unanswered, giving it more depth than most peppy dance-pop songs.

Ultimately, though, fans of the band will want to pick up the store-bought singles as the radio release (one-track) single is a poor investment. Go for more!

For other works by the Pet Shop Boys, please check out my reviews of:
Actually
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? (single)
Discography: The Complete Singles
Nightlife
New York City Boy (single)
Pop Art: The Hits
Disco 3
Fundamental


2/10

For other album and singles reviews, please check out my index page!

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


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2 comments:

  1. Hi.

    When it was first released, I just loved this song. Maybe because I used to love songs which made an intensive use of what musicians call orchetra hits (you know it's a synth sound that sounds like a hammer when you strike a single note on the keyboard : it's like having the strengh of an entire orchestra behind the single note you play) and PSB used that kind of sound a lot on their previous hits It's a sin, So hard etc.

    I suspect I also liked this song because it's a complete departure from the previous single that I find horrible : D.j. Culture.

    Then I forgot all about this track. Until I re-heard it recently, and I must admit that I'm not as enthousiastic about it today, I don't know why. It's maybe because I'm a little older now but I find it very camp and not that exceptionnal anymore. Oh well...

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    1. It's funny how our musical tastes change!

      -W.L.

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