Far from your typical pop stars, England’s Pet Shop Boys nonetheless made a big impact in the mid-1980s with their synthpop sound and ironic public personas. Neil Tennant (vocals) was a writer for Smash Hits when he ran into Chris Lowe (keyboards) at a music store. Soon the duo were writing songs and thanks to Tennant’s connections were recording an early version of “West End Girls” with famed disco producer Bobby “O” Orlando. ┬áNeither fit the rock star mold, with Tennant pushing 30 and Lowe a few years younger but generally considered “the silent one” of the group.

The original version of “West End Girls” tanked but the group was soon signed to Parlophone and given a bigger budget for production. Their first single for Parlophone was “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)“, a song about the greedy decade of Thatcherism. The song was an attack against greed, yet (in a perfect sense of irony for the group) when the song was a hit it was adopted by those very yuppies it was designed to attack. The original version of the song was produced by Art of Noise member J. J. Jeczalik, with “New York Overdubs” by Ron Dean Miller. This version barely made a dent on the U.K. charts.

The song was remixed and re-recorded by Stephen Hauge during production of the Pet Shop Boys debut album, Please. This second version became a worldwide smash as the follow-up single to “West End Girls” (itself re-recorded). The song was a #11 hit in the U.K. and hit the top 10 in the U.S. (the only PSB song to chart higher in America than the U.K.). For the second version, a new modern music video was shot featuring computer effects. The video also features Lowe wearing a hat, a trademark part of his public persona.

Please was a top 10 hit, eventually going Platinum. In addition to the number one hit “West End Girls”, other singles included “Love Comes Quickly” and “Suburbia”.

Original music video

Second music video