West End Girls (3:54)

Cover of Discography: The Complete Singles Collection

From Discography: The Complete Singles Collection and 122 other releases

“West End Girls” is a song by pop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe and was their first hit, reaching number one in the US and UK in 1986.

The lyrics were written in the early 1980s. The title and refrain refer to London’s divide between the traditional and working class East End and the cosmopolitan, consumer-driven West End.

The lyric “From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station” refers to the train route taken by Vladimir Lenin when he was smuggled by the Germans to Russia during World War I, and to Edmund Wilson’s book on the subject, To the Finland Station. There is further Russian Revolution imagery in the Bobby Orlando produced version of the single, which includes the line, “All your stopping, stalling and starting, / Who do you think you are, Joe Stalin?”; this line was removed for the 1985 version. Neil Tennant has a degree in history and his interest in Russian history is evident in many other Pet Shop Boys projects, such as their soundtrack to the silent film The Battleship Potemkin.

The single was first released in April 1984 through writer/producer Bobby Orlando’s label, and although not a hit in the United Kingdom, it was a minor dance hit in The Netherlands, Belgium, France and the USA. This initial release, on Epic in the UK, featured a mainly instrumental B-side called “Pet Shop Boys”. There have been numerous reissues and remixes of Orlando’s version as he still owns the original recordings.

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