80s Baby Breakdown: Pet Shop Boys West End Girls
At times, nostalgia can evoke glee during the gloomiest circumstances. Such was the case on a random day of getting blood from a turnip to pay monthly bills , weathering Atlanta’s recent torrential rains, and dodging every day black man blues while listening to pop tunes– circa the 80’s–on internet radio. Because of my decided bent towards hip hop and soul music, it is very easy to get pigeon holed. But like any music aficionado growing up in the 80’s, watching MTV, long before black folks got their freedom passes stamped to grace the channel, was a vital perquisite in pop culture socialization. Sounds crazy to some, but their was a day–before Michael Jackson broke the music video color line with the cult classic Thriller–when MTV was a distinct privilege only enjoyed by our white musical brethren. So, in an effort to not miss a teachable moment, my new column Ed’s 80’s Babies Breakdown is born.
80’s Baby Breakdown: Pet Shop Boys’ ” West End Girls” (circa 84′)
by Edward M. Garnes, Jr.
With Rihanna rockin’ acid washed jeans and many a r&b/hip hop star unearthing the synthesized leaning of the 80’s, the Pet Shops Boys’ 1984 dance hit “West End Girls” could easily sneak it’s way back into regular radio rotation. The English duo of Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant found global adoration producing electro-pop confections bubbling with synthesized grooves that often played off the techno funk popularized by hip hop pioneers like Afrika Bammbaataa & Soul Sonic Force. The tune “West End Girls” was essentially a playful rap shouting out cuties in the UK as the tune was about girls who frequented London’s West End, an affluent tourist destination housing many artistic, business, and cultural must sees.
The Pet Shops Boys visit Atlanta on September 12, 2009. For more info on the group, visit http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/
Peep the video for “West End Girls”
Award winning writer, educator, counselor, and activist Edward M. Garnes, Jr. is the founder of From Afros to Shelltoes: Art, Action, and Conversation, a nationally acclaimed series of cultural productions confronting the social divide between elders and hip hop heads. The 2009 Atlanta Tribune Men Of Distinction holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and a M.A. in Counseling from Michigan State University . His seminal essay, ” Sweet Tea Ethics: Black Luv, Healthcare, and Cultural Mistrust,” currently appears in Not In My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, a 2007 NAACP Image Award nominated collection edited by Gil Robertson. (www.afrostoshelltoes.com).