New music from Pet Shop Boys is always cause for celebration, for me anyway. A new album has just touched down and no doubt I will write about that later. Today, I just wanted to highlight the rather special video for the album’s first single “Winner”.
“Winner” came out a month ago and with all the fuss surrounding the Olympic Games in London, it was assumed that the song was written to cash in on the games due to the title, single cover art and the anthemic quality of the song.
It turns out that the song was not written with the Olympics in mind. It was actually inspired by Take That during the double header concert tour featuring both Tale That and Pet Shop Boys. Neil and Chris wanted to see if they could write a mid-tempo anthemic ballad and the result was “Winner”. It was never intended that Pet Shop Boys would record and release it themselves. Neil has even admitted that he was thinking of the song as a possible entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Listen for that key change during the song.
Andrew Dawson, the producer of the new Pet Shop Boys album “Elysium”, was the one who convinced Neil and Chris to record the song themselves. So they did.
Another track was always intended to be the first single but late in the day, the record company decided to release “Winner” instead, obviously thinking that it could be an Olympic tie-in.
I do like “Winner” a lot but having heard the rest of the album, I don’t think it was the strongest choice for a single and as it was, it didn’t sell particularly well. Maybe the record company always knew that anything released would be over-shadowed by all the Olympics hype so decided to release the stronger single later. Who knows.
Anyway, a video was recorded for “Winner” with a storyline closer to the meaning of the lyrics instead of some tacky, predictable Olympics montage. The lyrics are about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different, values that I respond to. And that’s what the video is about.
The story concerns a transgender woman, “Dirty Diana”, joining a woman’s roller derby team. She is not particularly good at roller derby but that doesn’t matter. There are lots of scenes showing Diana being accepted. They obviously know what Diana is but don’t care. They accept her as one of their own and it is heartwarming to see how happy Diana is, finally being accepted and treated as one of the girls. I also like the fact that the video is shot as if it was an amateur documentary. It adds to the authenticity of the video.
I guess the video wasn’t going to help the single to sell more copies but that’s irrelevant. I love it anyway.