This iconic song of the mid ’80s was released twice, with the second time the charm for West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys.
Inspired by a T.S. Eliot poem, The Wasted Land, the song was written by band members Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.
In 1984, while on assignment for Smash Hits Magazine in New York City, Tennant met producer Bobby Orlando, who agreed to produce the British duo’s songs.
Recording West End Girls, Opportunities, One More Chance, I Want a Lover and seven other songs, Orlando played most of the instruments heard on the album, including the jazz riff heard at the end of West End Girls.
Released on Colombia Records in April 1984, West End Girls became a hit in dance clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but was only available in the UK as an import single.
In March 1985, Tennant and Lowe cut ties with Orlando and Colombia Records and signed a deal with EMI Records, thanks to their new manager.
Re-recording West End Girls with producer Stephen Hague in August 1985, the song was released in October 1985, after their previous single Opportunities failed to garner attention from radio stations. The band considered the song a pop song, with hip hop influences.
West End Girls climbed the charts in the UK and the US, helped by an eye-catching music video by the Pet Shop Boys that went into high rotation on MTV in the US and MuchMusic in Canada.
In May 1986, West End Girls hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and stayed on the list for a total of 20 weeks.
Although the Pet Shops Boys continued to have success in the 1980s, this single was their only number one hit in four countries and hitting top five in many European countries.