"West End Girls"
Single by Pet Shop Boys
B-side(s) Pet Shop Boys
Released 1984
Formats 7", 12", CD
Peak chart positions

UK #121

"West End Girls"
Single by Pet Shop Boys
B-side(s) A Man Could Get Arrested
Released 1985
Formats 7", 10", 12", CD, Cassette
Peak chart positions

UK/US #1

Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money) West End Girls Love Comes Quickly

This was the first Pet Shop Boys song released on a label, and is arguably the song most commonly associated with the band.

Production and RecordingEdit

Produced by famed Hi-NRG mogul Bobby Orlando, the single was released on his Bobcat Records label in 1984. It was not a huge hit in the Boys' home country, but it did fairly well in the States and in Italy. Under the Bobby O umbrella, "West End Girls" was remixed and repackaged several times, saturating the world's record stores with multiple formats of this single, the follow up single "One More Chance", and several instrumental b-sides including "Pet Shop Boys", "To The Pet Shop Boys" and "Theme For The Pet Shop Boys" (essentially the same track). It was even mega-mixed with all of the above tracks together with a version of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses At Night", that was covered by a German singer not otherwise involved with the band.

Bobby O and his various affiliates continued to issue repackaged and remixed versions of these original masters until roughly the mid-nineties.

After a legal battle with Orlando, the band ended up signing with Parlophone Records in the UK, and "West End Girls" became their leadoff single to their first album, "Please". It was rerecorded and produced by Stephen Hague and was a more polished and full sounding cut, doing much better on the charts than the first incarnation. The singles featured remixes by Shep Pettibone. The b-side, previously recorded (but not released) with Bobby O was "A Man Could Get Arrested".


According to Neil, the song was inspired initially by Grandmaster Flash's famous track "The Message". He says he woke up in the morning with one of the couplets in his head: "Sometimes you're better off dead / There's a gun in your hand and it's pointing at your head..." and the rest came shortly thereafter.

Many people believed that the song was about prostitution, but they say that it's really about "class, about rough boys getting a bit of posh...", the difference between lower and upper classes and the way they tended to co-mingle with one another.

The line "From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station" refers to the journey that Lenin made in a sealed train.

The "Dive Bar" mentioned in the lyrics is actually the name of a nightclub in London the Boys often patronized.

The Bobby O Version of the song also features a verse that is not heard in any of the band's subsequent versions. One of the couplets in the verse reads, "All your stopping, stalling and starting / Who do you think you are, Joe Stalin?"

Sometimes you're better off dead
There's a gun in your hand and it's pointing at your head
You think you're mad, too unstable
kicking in chairs and knocking down tables
in a restaurant in a West End town
Call the police! There's a madman around
Running down underground
to a dive bar in a West End town

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
West End girls

Too many shadows, whispering voices
faces on posters, too many choices
If? When? Why? What?
How much have you got?
Have you got it? Do you get it?
If so, how often?
Which do you choose
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
West End girls
West End girls

(How much do you need?)

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
A West End town, a dead end world
East End boys, West End girls
West End girls

You got a heart of glass or a heart of stone?
Just you wait 'til I get you home
We've got no future, we've got no past
Here today, built to last
In every city, in every nation
from Lake Geneva to the Finland station
(How far have you been?)

And a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
A West End town, a dead end world
East End Boys, West End girls
West End girls
written by Tennant/Lowe

Releases and Versions Edit

The Bobby O version was released on vinyl formats in 1984. The concentration was mainly the UK and Germany and contained 7" and 12" versions, as well as several edits. Often the mix names are mislabeled or incorrect. The B-side was most often a eponymous instrumental track simply called Pet Shop Boys.

Since that time, the original production material was every so often repackaged and redistributed, especially since the band left Bobby Orlando to join with Parlophone Records. In 1986, Orlando had his version remixed and re-released in Germany, perhaps as an attempt to cash in on the band's Parlophone single. Then in 1988, a second wave of re-issues, this time incorporating many of the original tracks into megamixes. Finally, in 1992, a German CD single containing the 'Montreal mixes' was distributed.

As for the Parlophone version, its initial release in 1985 was more far reaching than Orlando's. 7" and 12" formats were made around the world, featuring the b-side A Man Could Get Arrested. In the UK, a special 10" disc with an exclusive mix of the single was created. Also, limited edition European 12" editions featured the Shep Pettibone mixes, and an edited version of his mix appears on Disco: The Remix Album.

Being one of their signature tracks, it was subsequently remixed numerous times. In 1993, remixes by Sasha were done for the I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing single. 2004 saw the track remixed by DJ Hell for the Flamboyant single and in 2010, Graeme Shepherd of Grum remixed it for the singles of Together.

The song was frequently performed live, often as a finale track, and various live versions have been released on commercial releases over the years.

Design and Packaging Edit

The 1984 releases featured basic and somewhat crude design. The typography and background elements of the cover varied, but a small photo of Neil and Chris which only showed their eyes and leaving the rest of their faces in silhouette was always present. It also featured a stylized text block of the band's name which was later adopted as an element in the Parlophone single cover.

For the 1985 release, a black and white Eric Watson full body photo of the band was used. The sleeve design is credited to XL Design and C.S. Lowe. Set upon a grey and black patterned field, the song title and information was done in red and blue. Other editions of the pressing retained this motif, some versions with die-cut holes featuring the photo on the record label as part of the facing, some without.

The 10" was packaged in a round fold-out picture sleeve, sealed with a circular yellow picture sticker that identifies it as a "collectors edition".

The limited edition Shep Pettibone UK 12" altered the colour scheme of the design slightly and removed all typographical elements from the facings. This pressing was packaged in three configurations: An uncut printed sleeve housing a record with 4" center labels, a die-cut title-stickered printed sleeve housing a record with 6" center labels, and an uncut printed sleeve with a 6" yellow printed center circle, housing a record with 4" center labels.


The video for this single featured the Boys in various locations around London.

Awards and RecognitionEdit

In 1987, the song won Best Single at the Brit Awards, and Best International Hit at the Ivor Novello Awards. In 2005, 20 years after its release, the song was awarded Song of The Decade between the years 1985 and 1994 by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. The song was performed by Pet Shop Boys at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony and was included as part of the soundtrack of the 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V on the Non-Stop-Pop radio station. 

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