Song of the Day, January 25: Dreaming of the Queen by Pet Shop Boys
January 25, 2016 Leave a comment
Today’s song is Dreaming of the Queen from Pet Shop Boys’ fifth album, Very. It’s a multi-layered song and one of the duo’s finest moments. The framework of the narrative is a classic dream situation in which the dreamer finds himself naked in an embarrassing situation, in this case while at tea with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana. That obvious element serves as a turning point for the narrative, however, serving as a symbol of loss and vulnerability.
The crux of the song is an exploration of romantic loss. In turn the Queen, the Princess, and the narrator observe that there are “no more lovers left alive.” That theme plays nicely on the well-known marital problems of the Prince and Princess of Wales. When Neil Tennant sings that he “woke up in a sweat, desolate”, it’s clear that his partner — originally seated at the dream tea — is dead. The track works as a broad look at loss and as an exploration of the devastation caused by the AIDS epidemic, one of Diana’s most famous charitable causes.
Tennant’s vocal is perhaps his finest, emotive but restrained, sung rather than narrated. The instrumentation is brilliant, fitting into the ongoing dance framework of the album while standing firmly on its own. With elegiac horns and stately keyboards, the whole package is smart and sympathetic. Many years later, the track gains even more heft with Diana’s death a few years after Tennant and musical partner Chris Lowe dreamed up their poignant tea party.
Enjoy this masterpiece of synth-dance brilliance today.