Shut Up And Sing: Pet Shop Boys???

A reader writes:

Your darling Pet Shop Boys are guilty, too!

"Dictation being forced in Afghanistan
Revolution in South Africa taking a stand
People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression
I hope it's going to be alright
I hope the music plays forever"


Another writes:

If you're going to nominate Aaron's favorite pop artist, fair's fair.

I'm including this as a token gesture of marital good will. But it's not fair. The song is actually expressly anti-political. Its brief set-up of political conflict and trauma is a prelude to an ode to mere music and its power to transcend everything. It was, as Neil Tennant put it in the Concrete album, a "rave classic" designed for druggy disco dancing and specifically about the priority of music over politics. Ergo it is a refutation of the very idea of pop singers having a social or political message. Hence the rather hilarious deadpan baby montage as a video.

And that has always been the PSB position (albeit with occasional libertarian protest songs like "Integral" or satire like "Shopping"). Moreover, a constant theme in the PSB oeuvre has been mockery of the pretensions of pop stars who think they are profound agents of social change or relevance. You hear that in the brilliant satire of Eminem in "The Night I Fell In Love", the mockery of Bono's pretensions in the PSB cover of "Where The Streets Have No Name" (the video itself is a work of pure genius), and the classic evisceration of Sting in "How Can You Be Taken Seriously?" Here are the full lyrics of that song:

You live upon a stage, and everyone's agreed
You're the brightest hope by far that anyone can see
So when you take the limelight you can guarantee
You're gaining fame and claiming credibility

Tell me baby, are you gonna get high as a kite?
Tell me baby, are you gonna let it happen every night
How can you expect to be taken seriously?

You live within the law, and everyone assumes
You must find this a bore, and try something new
You're an intellectual giant, an authority
To preach and teach the whole world about ecology ...

You live within the headlines, so everyone can see
You're supporting every new cause and meeting royalty
You're another major artist on a higher plane
Do you think they'll put you in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame?

Tell me baby, how you generate longevity
Tell me baby, how you really hate publicity
How can you expect to be taken seriously?

Wow. Way to get me riled up on a holiday weekend. First Palin's Facebook, now this.