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Saturday Deluxe / 1 February 2020

Pet Shop Boys / Hotspot
Not Topspot for Pet Shop Boys’ Hotspot

“If you sign prints for every cassette, CD and vinyl version of Hotspot on your own site, you’ll be in good shape to secure a number one album”. This, presumably, was the advice given to Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe when it came to marketing the new Pet Shop Boys album Hotspot.

Sadly for them, they didn’t quite make it. Maybe they are now regretting ‘running out’ of prints and not bothering to get some more done. In fact, not only did they not get to number one, they didn’t even get to number two either, as the album entered at number three, with Music Week reporting a total sales ‘consumption’ of 16,768 units. This is made up of 11,744 CDs, 1773 vinyl records and 407 cassette tapes. In the digital domain they sold 2,146 digital downloads and just 698 ‘sales-equivalent’ streams.

ANYWAY…. the artist who did get to number one is a British rapper called J Hus (who?). J Hus didn’t release any physical product at all and got to number one via 22, 525 ‘sales equivalent’ streams and 1,011 downloads. Unlike J Hus, the Pet Shop Boys didn’t spent a large part of 2019 in jail for carrying a knife on the streets of London. Eminem was number two with 18,724 sales, so it wasn’t even close, in the end.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2016, I wrote about a fictional Wham! ‘Make It Bigger’ reissue and joked at the end that George and Andrew would be supporting the reissue campaign: “Appearances on top tier UK TV shows are promised, including Loose Women and Sunday Brunch”. I remember chuckling away at my own gag because it was so absurd, but in other indication of how much they wanted the album to get to number one Neil and Chris did indeed appear on both of these shows to promote Hotspot. Blimey, what happened to the PSB’s much-treasured aloofness? (this is the band who wouldn’t talk to SDE about their reissues a few years ago – no sour grapes, of course).

Assuming it doesn’t rise any further, Hotspot joins Please, Electric and Super in the number 3 ‘club’ – the position they all peaked at in the UK album charts. Incidentally, all 14 of the Pet Shop Boys albums have entered the top ten of the UK album charts, but only Very from 1993 has reached number one. Interestingly, Depeche Mode have also had 14 albums and all of theirs have also been UK top ten hits as well, although they’ve had two number ones (Songs of Faith and Devotion and Ultra).


What’s going on with Depeche Mode’s MODE box?

There has been a lot of speculation about the availability of Depeche Mode‘s MODE box set which was released just a week ago by Sony.

The 18CD package, which includes all 14 studio albums and four bonus discs in bespoke ‘all black’ packaging, effectively went out of stock in or around that first weekend of release, with fans rushing to secure their orders. Add to that some confusion over product listings – with a few sites (including JPC in Germany and Amazon in the USA) detailing the same product at two different prices – and the whole thing became rather messy.

So what’s going on? Some fans are under the impression that Sony have ‘made some more’ box sets to react to the demand (and lack of stock). This seemed to be supported by some listings indicating that MODE will be available again in mid-February, however this is not the case. Sony have remained tight-lipped regarding numbers in original production run, but they have confirmed to SDE that there is not going to be another production run of MODE. So any fresh availability on Amazon (or anywhere else) is simply to do with retailers ‘finding’ stock sources from within existing distribution channels.

In short, if you have a chance to secure one of these for a reasonable price, don’t hesitate. The Amazon US price of $140 has now long gone, but looking back that was a real bargain compared to what’s being asked now. If you haven’t seen this in the flesh, then watch the SDEtv unboxing video which at over 40,000 views is SDE’s most viewed video!

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140 Comments

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Jenna Appleseed

Maybe all those sales direct from artists websites, don’t actually count for the charts?

Shane

This will play out in the near future:

seikotsi: Alexa, play J Hus “Disaster”.
Alexa: I’m sorry seikotsi, J Hus “Disaster” is no longer available on this service.

**silence

Mark P

I think where the PSB went wrong on the signed print was they gave one with every purchase of one of the formats and not one with each order. I.e. I bought a copy of each format, Vinyl, 2CD, CD and cassette. (All on one order) I then to my surprise got 4 signed prints! This is why they ran out. I have been a PSB fan since the start, even have an original demo version of West end girls on epic label. So was glad to get a signed print to add to my vast collection. Off to see the boys in May at the Manchester arena.

RJS

The UK album charts are irrelevant. Years ago it used to be published in music magazines, tabloid newspapers (usually the Top 10 on the showbiz page), Ceefax and record shops (Our Price, Virgin, Woolworths, WH Smiths), who used to have a wall display devoted to it. Even the BBC website used to have a prominent link to it but now you have to go actively looking (searching) for it on their site. Amazon use their own sales rank and the few supermarkets that still sell CDs use their own and I’ve never seen an independent shop using it. You just don’t really see it anywhere now except the OfficialCharts website or HMV. Most of the old farts who visit this site (myself included) wouldn’t recognise half of the names on it anyway.

Michel Banen

2-CD + handsigned print were just delivered !!! CD playing right now….. not disappointed !!!

seikotsi

Thanks to this post I listened to J Hus. He’s pretty good, and can also sing with a nice deep soulful voice. And what’s with the anti-rap sentiments? Isn’t west end girls rap?
ALso, when ‘west end girls’ came out, did you think you would listen to this band 40 years later? Or when Holiday by Madona came out? Or ‘I should be so lucky’ by Kylie Minogue? J Hus may as well be the next Gil Scott Heron (who has also been in jail).

Shane

“This just in! Youth declare having to unlock phone and press Spotify icon and search for desired music to play is physically too demanding and request app that reads mind”

Etc etc etc you get the point

seikotsi

That’s so old school. I just ask Alexa or Siri to play the song I want, and unlocking is by face recognition. Who needs icons? And I just received my neneh cherry box set and am reading the book while streaming on amazon hd :)

Shane

Gosh, ripping your own cds is such a chore, isnt it?

jason

I’m curious as to how many retailers, especially independent ones, do not use Soundscan models and sold copies of the album that have not yet registered as official sales. Love the album…

Daniel Samaniego

Who gives a toss about the sales?

The boys have written some fabulous tunes on this album. All gems, I would say as a lifelong fan…except for Monkey Business: Ouch!

memoryboy

Re: Monkey Business
Are you kidding?
It’s one of the best tracks on the album.
It’s a real cracker of a tune.

I will admit, upon first listen I thought ‘Monkey Business’ was a bit corny and cheezy, if not downright silly and Dare I say an embarrassing mess. But…

After repeated listens, it’s clear it’s a real winner. Playful, fun, catchy and the funky tunes! Wow. It’s officially now crowned one of their best by me.

‘Monkey Business’ sounds great in the context of the album and as a stand alone single.

imo

David Bly

Posting here cause it’s the most recent – I did not know that Andy Gill had died until I saw you mention it. Very sad.

I was lucky enough to see the Gang of Four very early on (at least as early I could have in the States) in a sort of strange experience. The band was supposed to play at a small club in Buffalo, NY, while another band (I can’t remember whom) was supposed to play in a bar in Lockport, NY, a small town about 20 miles north of Buffalo. I guess that the powers that be decided the other band needed to be in the larger venue, so the Go4 played in Lockport.

This ended up being great for those of us wanting to see the Go4 in about the most intimate venue as you could. They had no problem with the venue change and did a great show for the crowd.
Afterwards I talked to them all and also played pool with them – I’m pretty sure I lost every game I played (I think Hugo won the most games over all), but to just hang out with them like real people (which of they they were) was just wonderful.

It’s so sad that many of the people I “grew up” with (that is to say those all around the same age as me) are now gone. It makes me wonder sometimes how I’m still going.

Semi-related, I also met Sara Lee some years later, when she was with The B-52’s, whom I’d also been lucky enough to see in their original line-up with the also late Ricky Wilson.

James Giraffe

I bought the 2CD set of Hotspot, so that’s a purchase. I’ve also been streaming it on a paid Google Play Music subscription. (I get it for £7.99 p/m as I was one of the first subscribers.) Unfortunately for PSB, I don’t think my streaming will count for anything. The 2CD version is not in the Google Play Music library, so what I am streaming is the 2CD version that I had to upload to MY library from my CD, so I’m streaming my own copy, which I doubt will contribute additional to “sales”, even though I’ve bought it once and streamed about 6 times.

I know streaming is controversial, but I do buy physical product. Trouble is, you can’t listen to a box set when you’re on a train, unless it’s available to stream or you’ve ripped your own CD to a digital format.

I do not pay for downloads though, unless I absolutely have to (Garbage debut album Super Deluxe – I’m talking to you) due to there being no CD available. Physical product still rules!

EW99

I streamed the album on Google Play several times as my CD didn’t turn up until Monday. Then I carried on streaming the album on my commute on the train for the rest of the week in a vain attempt to skew the figures. Drop in the ocean compared to the J Hus streaming I’m afraid.

I also love the album – but then I loved Super as well. Wedding In Berlin has to be one of the strangest songs in the PSB canon and it took me a while to get used to it. Shades of KLF in Happy People perhaps. Dreamland is, I think, a great single and maybe if they had released that with a flashy video in the album release week and performed it on the One Show and the National TV awards they might have reached out to a mass audience slightly better. Much as I like Monkey Business I don’t feel it’s a breakthrough single for them – maybe a huge disco remix would help,

Graeme

I’m not sure where I stand on streaming v physical sales in the charts. I’m also no fan of rap but a lot of these comments run along the lines of who is this J Hus and where will he be in 35 years time. Well, time will tell but I can guarantee that the same (or similar) will have been said about (name your favourite long lasting act here).
The underlying feeling from a lot of these posts is that J Hus doesn’t deserve to be ahead of the Pet Shop Boys (who’s Hotspot I own), so I popped along to the Any Decent Music website (who compile reviews) where it appears that J Hus’ album is a solid 8 to 10 out of 10 from a variety of different reviewers, overwhelming more positive on the whole than PSB reviews.
Ultimately the question for me is “what is the purpose of the charts, to give information on sales, or to measure the popularity of a new product?”

christian

Statistically, streaming is a much better metric of popularity because of the considerably larger sample set. It also, as you point out, largely takes socioeconomic factors out of the mix which is a good thing.
As a survey it has way more significance than the old purchase-based model.

Standard edition physical digital product is essentially paying for the booklet and the jewel case. The streaming model shows this, the record companies are not going bust.
So for the price of a single cd a month you can listen to pretty much the entire library of recorded music with considerably more flexibility.

If you ask me, like vinyl – my only and much loved physical format – cds are an anachronism, something reflected in their plummeting sales.

-SG-

Music is now used as a lure, more than ever, which opens any streaming company to even more important things, like selling your presonal data, location, age, like, dislike, social acrivities, all very important aspects to selling you something; streaming does what radio advertisers always dreamed of doing, creating the ultimate target market. The sale channel becomes much tighter, the piracy factor goes away, the secondary market disappears, the concept of ownersip evaporates, and the tap is controlled by whomever owns the rights, it is a neverednding cycle of income, which no longer includes defective product, manufacture, storage or even breakthrough artists, many people will likely pay because they no longer have a collection and do not want to lose access to their favorite music. Even if the majority of small time artists do not really make any money through the service, it does not matter, It is the ultimate fantasy realized by the record companies and legacy rights holders.

Bob

I’ll field this question to anyone, really. I ordered the Japanese cd that comes with remixes of Dreamland and Monkey Business. It was supposed to be released on Jan 31st. I still have not received a shipping date. I’m curious if anyone who also purchased this has received theirs or have had a notification of shipment?
thanks in advance
B

Edward Andrews

Hello yes I got my CD from CD Japan last Friday Jan 31st

Metal Mickey


The actual answer to the question “what is the purpose of the charts” is that they were originally designed to inform shops which records (or which sheet music if you go even further back) were most popular, and therefore which ones to have in stock and give an indication of how many to order… the fact that the public became interested in them too was just a bonus, and of course by default the charts also had a big influence on radio playlists, and so the cycle continued… and the same goes for box-office statistics – they’re primarily for cinemas to help them decide how many screens to allocate to certain films at any one time, but the public are endlessley fascinated by them…

As for the integration of radio play and (these days) streaming figures in chart data, the US Billboard charts have always included radio play as part of their calculations… in the 90s I asked US music writer Dave Marsh why that was, and he said “if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a single white artist in the top 20!”

Eric

From my point of view, its great that one of my favorite acts are still having top 5 albums but with so little hard copies sold, can only be a sign of the times. I have no idea who J Hus is ( must’ve had plenty of free time lately to write his No 1 album ) & the Dave Clark 5 thing must have been one of those random commercial successes that no one can predict. I don’t really care for either the album or single charts as I know I’m not their target audience but a recent curiosity look at the album chart before Christmas did reveal several obviously substantial marketing budgets reaping their rewards in a steaming pile of ‘orrible brown shite which only put me off looking at that odious turd box for quite a while.
I know the PSB are now a nostalgia act, though they won’t like being called that but is this as good as it gets say for the next Duran Duran , Mode or U2 album, no matter how good they are? Well have to wait & see!

MusicFan

Let’s remind ourselves the record industry is a business.

The Pet Shop Boys are hitting top ten in all the global album charts, so they are clearly doing great business.

They will be making a lot of money, which will help fund the next album, and they have a very lucrative world tour ahead of them.

As for ‘J Hus’, he has sold no product, and is likely to make NO money after costs are recouped. Does he have a world tour, ‘no’!

Will ‘J Hus’ be having top ten albums, globally for FIVE decade, just like the Pet Shop Boys – very likely, ‘NO’.

Yet statistics show criminals do re-offend and he is likely to be back in prison in the next three months – such a nice chap!

Jeremy

The whole music charts thing has become a meaningless nonsense. One may well decry the inclusion of streamed listenings in a calculation of ‘best sellers.’ But equally one should decry the inclusion of cd’s ‘given’ away with the purchase of expensive concert tickets – the stunt used to push Macca’s last album to #1 in the USA.

Bruno

The charts are irrelevant. With bots being able to stream 24/7 as required, the whole process has no integrity. It beats me why the PSB would ever care about the charts. I am just delighted as a non fan to have one PSB album with a signed picture. On DM, I am a also a non-fan who owns no DM at all but I hope Sony do not print more boxes. They were available and those who want them buy them. Now they are sold out, any one who wants the music can buy it in other forms. Those who paid a lot of money should be able to enjoy owning a rare item without it being devalued post purchase. As a fan and purchaser of the Bowie 5 years box and the Queen studio vinyl box I am really annoyed that more Queen boxes were printed. It simply devalues the purchase decision I made. I enjoy the Bowie box more due to its rarity. You are paying a premium for the rarity in my view.

martin farnworth

Streaming must count for something due to their prevalence due to reflecting the times and the increasing insignificance of the physical format. To what extent though I don’t know. As for PSB not reaching number 1 I’m not surprised as many of those sales must have been preorders. As for Please reaching number 3 also I guess it sold far more copies to get there.

MüllerMüller

What a senseless discussions about a PSB album…
Great songs
Great music
Great album
The still alive!!!!
(The discomiks of Monkey Business from the Japan CD is sooooo good)
Dance on

Marcel

Couldn’t agree more. Great album!

Heimi

The worst with MODE at Amazon.com is that they obviously took orders beyond their available stock which has not happened to me at Amazon.de before. I ordered mine on 20Jan and since release it is in status “Not yet shipped. Delivery estimate: We need a little more time to provide you with a good estimate. Please check back again”. This is really not satisfying.

David Carter

Surely separate streaming charts and physical charts are the way forward , young people simply don’t buy music anymore, out of the many people I know at work and socially I am the only one that still buys physical media, depressingly. I stream as well but only really to discover new music. As we all get older charts will be dominated by grime and disposable artists that mean nothing to me unless streaming is separated from the main chart, I’d love this to happen but can’t see it.

Enda Guinan

It’s already there, David. The physicals sales chart has been around for quite a while: https://www.officialcharts.com/charts/physical-albums-chart/

Wolfgang

I buy music via CDs, vinyl and streaming. Most of the music played in my household is through Spotify, which I have paid a subscription for. My children only listen to music via streaming (bought via a family subscription) and I listen probably 4 out of every 5 hours of music via Spotify. Hence, Hotspot (I am still waiting for the physical release despite pre-ordering months ago) both counted in my household on the charts due to me buying two formats plus playing it on Spotify. Most music I buy is also played in my household via Spotify, hence it counts more often, reflecting the fact that I listen to it via a paid service and also think it worthwhile to buy it in a physical form.

My children, however, do not have the need to buy music physically. They think it is funny that their dad buys vinyl all the time and even occasionally CDs. This is also true about most of my students (mostly aged 22-25). They still value the paid music subscription a great deal. A large majority prefer, e.g., Spotify as opposed to Netflix if forced to pick only one of the services (a student of mine actually did a survey on this, 81% of students picked Spotify). If streaming would not count, neither would the music most young people listen to, who mostly use paid streaming services for their music experiences, count.

Excluding streaming from the charts would omit many purchases done via streaming services. That would leave such charts dominated by the preferences of older people, like me and most of my friends. Even that group would be more of a sub-group, since many of my friends are little by little joining the streaming services as well, meaning those left are people like me buying vinyl and CDs, but represent of minority of people buying music, let alone listening to it.

It would have tickled me if PSB had gone to #1, but the album clearly did not represent the most popular album that week.

Julian Hancock

The other elephant in the room here is that, so far as I am aware, none of the streaming services actually make any money. You Tube might be the exception to this, but the money they pay artists is even worse than the others.

How sustainable this all is remains to be seen. I except someone will figure out a way of making it all pay sooner or later, but I can’t see the result being artists making a traditional albums worth of material, which in turn doesn’t bode well for physical product. There will be some exceptions, e.g. for small acts who want something to sell at gigs, like folk acts have done for years, but I am not sure it makes sense for lots of others.

John McCann

Well thats the diet out the window,was doing well but after reading this post im heading to China buffet King Glasgow,cheers paul,

Enda P Guinan

Yes, but they still have to decide if they want to pig out on the soup or the wings or the wontons or whatever. But unlike the buffet which doesn’t care what you eat, the Official Charts have some algorithms to keep things interesting. If you want to know what people actually eat, then look at the physicals chart. If you want to know what actually popular, then… you discover that the buffet analogy doesn’t quite work.

Enda Guinan

I’m guessing the OCC uses algorithms to determine eligibility for their various charts (sales, sales equivalence, combining different versions of tracks, age of tracks, paid/unpaid streams, etc). Spotify’s algorithms are to do with listening behaviour of users.

I misunderstood your use of the buffet analogy. I thought we were talking about the impact or ‘fairness’ of including streams in the Official Charts.

StephendC

Everybody acts as though the ‘official’ charts are a credible barometer of sales when it is clearly not. It’s a marketing ploy designed to get everyone streaming because streams aren’t as pirateable as physical formats.

To keep calling it a singles chart too is misleading, the fact they have to keep changing rules whenever someone makes a mockery of them [Ed Sheeran] backs this up. Then they have the gall to compare todays ‘achievements’ with those that are based on a definable count, ie, physical sales.

Just support the artists you like and this [hopefully] will keep inspiring them to release more music.

I like the PSB album, despite the dire artwork.

EW99

Or: PSB score a top 3 album by doing loads of promo, creating a “special edition” 2*CD version of their album and signing thousands of prints. Good on them. It might not even have got in the top 10 without all that.

Neil Kelly

Their last album did as well…

Harcourt Fenton Mudd

I am somewhat surprised that STREAMING is included in the official charts these days.
As mentioned on this thread, a million streams could be made WITHOUT any SINGLE ASSOCIATED sale. A streamed song might show that something is POPULAR…but not of sufficient QUALITY, or is liked/enjoyed enough to make someone give over hard £$£$ for it!

Physical SALES and download SALES should make the charts. The Streaming charts should NOT be included in the SALES charts:

The http://www.officialcharts.com website says that in ” 2014 . . . streaming finally enter[ed] the core Official Charts. The first to take on board audio streams was the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of July 2014 – with 100 audio streams (drawn from services such as Spotify, Deezer, Napster and O2 Tracks, among others) equating to 1 single purchase. In July 2018, video downloads and streams were incorporated for the first time.”

If I like something I will buy it. I do not look at charts or refer to charts ever…. amazon and SDE.com are my sources for finding new music these days…. new Cadillac three and huey lewis & the news albums out this month – both spotted whilst trawling amazon.

I reckon most of what I like these days would never get on a chart hit parade anyway. You will be hard pushed to find Buckethead, Nita Strauss, Lianne La Havas, or the Lennon Claypool Delirium in any chart, whether it be derived from download or purchase or beamed-direct-to-brain ………. but any of them could one day rocket to the toppermost of your own personal chart.

Enda Guinan

It’s frustrating that Hotspot didn’t make the top spot (or the second-to-top spot) as it’s a very fine PSB album with some decent promotion behind it. But it has topped the physical album chart.

The Official Charts Company seems to be making a reasonable fist of keeping the charts representative of what people like in a technologically bewildering era. A physical purchase or download is worth more than a stream; paid streams are worth more more than free streams; streams are devalued after 10 weeks so that new music has a chance to break through; only three tracks from a big selling album can count towards the ‘singles’ chart and so on. They tinker with the formula every so often as things change (remember the Ed Sheeran debacle where every track from his album took over the singles chart for a week? The the three song maximum rule came in.)

If they want to keep the chart relevant, what can they do except tinker like this? The J Hus album might have been only the 31st selling album last week, but it was the most popular in the formats that people use to hear music today. That has to be rewarded appropriately.

(For the record, I bought Hotspot on three formats and streamed the hell out it too, but it was not be be!)

Michel Banen

Anyone else in Germany that hasn’t received their Pet Shop Boys 2-CD with signed print yet ?

The whole thing with streaming….. I don’t get it. Someone either buys a product or they don’t. Only actual sales should be counted. It’s like counting a view for a full movie if I watch the trailer on YouTube 10 times. At least the Pet Show Boys still sell ACTUAL product and a #3 album is still an excellent achievement considering they have been around for some 35 years and haven’t had a huge hit single in years. They have a solid fanbase and the real money for artists these days is in touring and merchandise.

The signed offerings from artists are very cool. I have signed albums from artists that I actually bought for the autographs.

Nick

Same here! I have pre-ordered this in December, got a shipping notification on Jan 23rd but have received nothing yet. Hope it will arrive soon since the 2CD is already hard to get, apparently…

smirkdj

I also got notification on 23rd jan and still haven’t received it ,seems there are several people here having the same issue….

-SG-

I think the abscence of a current smash hit song on the album is the likely culprit to why it did not chart higher. Beyond the sizable diehard fans I doubt many were aware of the new record. But getting to #3 is fantastic. Few bands ever reach that level of popularity.
Regardless of its charting position, I have really enjoyed this new album. I would have never imagined 30 years ago that they would be making music today. I feel very greatful to still have the pleasure of having a new record by my favorite synthpop duo. The fact it stands up to their previous work is a real accomplishment. Getting a signed print is just icing on the cake.

JohnW

There’s one thing Sony need to do and that’s make money in their fledging businesses. They absolutely will do more production runs. So long as people keeping buying the boxes, they will keep making them. My feeling is that they didn’t make very many because of a shambolic release to begin with and missing the holiday period leading up to Christmas.

That said, you are better off buying the CD/DVD double packs that were released years back. There was another run of those and you can still get them if you search around. The documentaries are excellent along with the 5.1 mixes. A million times better than those drab black covers and a cardboard box.

Martin O

I got my Depeche Mode box from Target. I surprised to get it since I ordered it after it was sold out on Amazon. I’ve never ordered anything from Target besides a lamp.

Shawn C.

I ordered quite a bit of vinyl from Target with their Buy Two Third Free sale last year. I was shocked how much variety they had in music. Their prices were great and everything was delivered quickly and in great shape. Definitely a great alternative to Amazon for music. (p.s. I do not work for Target lol).

Kauwgompie

I tried Targehhh as well after Amazon was sold out but they eventually canceled my order after first saying it would ship Feb 11. They had it for the same price as Amazon USA. Never ordered from them before either. That Feb 11 date wasn’t just a rumor if Target puts it on their site but I guess someone overruled a 2nd print of the Mode box and Target and everyone else canceled the orders on hand.

Charles K.

The 14 year old me who bought PSB’s debut in ‘86 would be shocked to see them still active, creating great new music and debuting at #3 on any chart in 2020. I’m grateful for their still going strong, the new album is outstanding and it’s definitely success enough to guarantee yet another down the road.

Deanery

Loving Hotspot, especially Will-O-the-Wisp ….who cares what the charts say – I don’t think PSB need any more money. For me Hotspot isn’t going to be one of my fave PSB albums, but it’s nice to see the return of a little lyrical structure.

Most of us were sold on the idea you get the best sound quality from the cd format. I remember when large record shops in Canada couldn’t get rid of their vinyl fast enough to make way for the cd shelving. I still believe (to my ears) cd is the best sound format available right now. I will never get into streaming, I’m too particular about what I’m spending my time listening to. The current generation (I feel so old…) are not into SOUND the way we were, they’re into gadgetry and all it’s features – such is the change from generation to generation, each generation has to swing the pendulum in a different direction.

I’m just glad there are still a few musicians putting out good product – PSB are a perfect example. Depeche Mode however are not a good example – the last good album they put out was Violator – and we can buy all the same material over and over and over dressed up in different pretty boxes but it’s never going to include any more great new material and it’s not going to act as a portal to better record days.

-SG-

I think J Hus is the man of the moment. Now if he has a top 3 album in 35 years I will be impressed.

Steven Alan

There’s, a decidedly nasty tone about the way you’ve written about the Pet Shop Boys here, Paul.
Are you the hack that did a hatchet job on them on here when they didn’t announce a CD single release for Burning the Heather, ringing the death knell for the format only for them to announce a CD single release for Monkey Business just a few short weeks later?
We’re still waiting for a retraction on that btw.

daveid76

Pretty sure BtH was a last minute decision as a single and the normal 2 bonus songs were split between it and Monkey business. They probably thought a 7 inch would satisfy the physical demand. So to speak…

Steven Alan

Maybe a follow up then. Are they calling time on the CD single? No.
Oh & btw ,they weren’t on Sunday Brunch in the end so that dig doesn’t hold up either.

John McCann

A nasty tone,,,,and then you call the guy a hack?

Chris Squires

Steven, having been here for 6 years now it is obvious to me that Paul doesn’t do “nasty”. Having been on many other boards across all sorts of pastimes I would settle on “fair”. Paul’s job, as a critic, is not to criticise or congratulate for the sake of it but to analyse and comment with an even hand, and he has done so even when it would have been easier or more lucrative to play nice. The following here on SDE will all have our own opinions but generally, reading 6 years of posts, we appreciate Paul’s ability to call a spade a spade. Look at the Howard Jones “one to one” thread. That is the definition of even handedness. He was critical of the album, although not overly, but praised the content and structure of the package. Paul needs people like Howard, Paul Young, Stephen Duffy, Saint Etienne, Heaven 17…. the “long termers” of the industry. The interviews and signed editions that fuel the engine of SDE only come with the grace of those artists. But Paul has shown the integrity to still be able to criticise the poor as well as praise the good irrespective of the outcome which might mean he gets fewer interviews or retweets. We don’t want a sycophant or, conversely, a Nina Myskow. I think most people here would trust Paul’s judgement even if we don’t agree with everything.
So to use the pejorative term “hack” would suggest that the “nasty tone” isn’t necessarily coming from Paul but from yourself.
Exactly what does Paul need to retract by the way?
Over-reaction is the bane of many users of the internet, generally this place is a haven. Don’t forget as the sole moderator Paul could have easily not released your message, it should show his even-handedness that he did.

hamicle

The thing about that 16.8k sales of the PSB album is that that is even with some fans buying multiple formats (like in the days of multi-formatted singles, but at least you got different material on the different formats!). Strip out the number of multi-format purchases and the level of “engagement” with the album is even lower.

The J Hus album is number one because it had the streams – that’s the rules, and it’s probably a more honest measure of the popularity of his album than PSB getting to number one because their fans bought multiple copies of the same record to get it there.

Glenn Roger

I secured the Depeche Mode box set here in the US and received it a day or so later. I am glad I got it. I was afraid I wouldn’t at first. This whole box set, to me, is a work of art, a statement by the band. It was also numbered so it is my opinion the record company and/or Depeche Mode had not intended to sell a million box sets or saturate the market with it and I am glad about that. Makes it more collectible. You either wanted it or you didn’t. And by the way, the four discs of extra material is awesome!

Andrew B

You’re wrong Paul. Pet Shop Boys were selling signed prints to the converted anyway. Nobody could expect them to sign a never-ending amount of prints in order to get to number 1. It was always going to be limited. That’s why they were briefly available to the PSB fans on their website. Had they offered signed prints for every Hotspot sale in Asda, then you could be right but they didn’t. Sales from their website would never get them to number 1 anyway.

Steven Morgan

Been a week now and still not received the double cd cd and signed print. Anybody else in UK still not received as well ?

Diddly

I ordered the CD and print and it was delivered by DHL courier on the release date of Friday, 24th. I received an email from the PSB store the day before confirming despatch from the ‘store’ and then an email from DHL on the Friday confirming their intention to deliver that day. Did you receive the emails? It could be that DHL were unable to deliver and are awaiting your instruction on suggested redelivery.

Michel Banen

Steven Morgan: still waiting for delivery of the 2-CD with signed print in Germany as well. Postage was real low so it was probably send via slow mail….

Robert Morgenstern

Hello Steven, got my double CD and signed print two days ago here in germany by normal (not tracked) mail. The shipping information on release day. Cheers

Mikarl

Same here in Sweden. Love the album, one of their best. I think the Stuart Price collabs have been super, if I can say so ..,

Quante

Related to the streaming v physical music debate, in this case the PSB and J Hus, is the disaster for consumers of the corporations ,who sell all this wonderful kit for our shiny dreamy lifestyles; and then proceed to s**t all over their customers by obsoleting perfectly good hardware via software updates.

Apple are terrible, in my eyes the worst offenders. My iMac which is a great bit of kit is unusable in many situations as websites get updated and at the same time apple prevents their operating system being updated. The end result is unusable websites. It’s the sort of consumer ‘fraud’ that the EU will one day get its teeth into and fine Apple and others for billions of €. U.K. politicians never seem to bother helping their citizens from getting ripped off. Sonos is doing the same thing as Apple, by making their speakers obsolete: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51231363

Where’s the sustainability policy from Apple and Sonos when it comes making perfectly functioning equipment unusable? Never get in the way of corporate greed for profit, as they’ll trounce all over you.

It’s fair to say I hate technology, even though at the same time I benefit from it. As well as the corporate ‘fraud’ of making my kit useless, cleverer people than me are always trying to rob me via technology – the scale of fraud and attempted fraud is beyond belief. I’m relieved that my 82 year old mum isn’t on the internet. She has trouble enough using a pay as you go phone , but I can rest easy knowing that she isn’t getting conned out of her money via the internet.

So relating this back to music, thank heavens for the non connected, ever reliable ‘good’ technologyy. Thank you to my best ever buy, a small radio. The U.K. government tried to obsolete this by trying to sell off the frequencies used by analogue channels to digital companies. 30 million analogue radios were going to be rendered useless, which eventually forced a U turn in policy; so my good old radio carries on . It’ll outlive me. Thank you to cd and vinyl. I own my music, so it won’t disappear when a streaming service decides they don’t want to carry it anymore. Thank you to the hardware that plays cd’s and vinyl. It generally lasts a long time, it can be repaired, it doesn’t cost me more to use once I’ve bought it. It sounds phenomenal. I don’t need a password or an update. In short, I’m self sufficient and no organisation can screw up my on-going pleasure.

I bet the Pet Shop Boys made more money selling CDs and vinyl of Hotspot than J Hus did with his millions of streams. J Hus will be a two second wonder – who’ll ever discover his music in a charity shop in twenty years time, let alone come across him on a streaming service in six months time.

Celebrate the good and call out the bad.

Paul Taylor

A wonderful post. That made me smile. A lot
Thank you

SimonH

Thank you, a great post.
As sheep we are of course much more profitable to the corporations who shape our lives.

O(+> Peter B

Will people be able to buy streams and downloads in charity shops in 20 years time?

Shawn C.

Have to disagree on Apple. I use both a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro and have never encountered the issues you are referring to regarding your iMac. It sounds like either you have an old slow system, have not updated your OS, or have not kept Safari up to date. You can also use alternative browsers if you find Safari does not load a particular website. As far as “sustainability” – no computer ever built is “sustainable” forever unless you replace the hardware every few years. Pretty much everyone on the planet accepts that you have to buy a new computer every so often unless you want to deal with lagging, crashing, or bricking. It’s not just Apple, but any computer. Try running Windows 10 on a 10 year old computer. Finally, not at all sure what your tirade against Apple has to do with the issue of digital v. physical media.

SimonH

My not very old iPad mini won’t update to the new operating system, this is planned obselence to generate more sales. Apple are kings of that business model!

Quante

Hi Shaun,

I don’t disagree with some of your points. Apple are good at updates, right up to the point where they obsolete the operating system. I either need to pay a lot of money to get the operating system changed via a third party, probably against Apple’s terms and conditions, or buy a brand new imac. Apple slow down phones deliberately to encourage renewal. My ipad is similar to the imac in being semi obsolescent.

I agree Apple is likely no worse than any other computing company, I just happen to have Apple. I don’t see why I should pay nearly £3,000 to get a new equivalent imac to the one that I have today, just so it works properly. Physically there is nothing wrong with my current one – Apple choose to allow it to fail. So they try to profit at my expense.

If Apple want to grow their business by selling equipment that supersedes current technology, then I may desire it. It is just not right to make perfectly good equipment fail deliberately to try to get me to buy it again. Sonos is doing the same thing with loudspeakers – what’s the normal failure rate of a loudspeaker? Not very high. So good old software is enabled to nobble the updates required to run the systems properly.

I’ll stop whining on about this now!

Paul English

Were there any availability issues with Hotspot?

In Ireland on release day – my local shop didn’t get in. In Tower Records Dublin, no vinyl.

My local got it the following day – just the CD. No vinyl. No double CD.

Can’t order the double CD on Amazon.

RJS

I think the charts are more or less irrelevant nowadays. It’s more about what’s trending on streaming platforms. And to be honest, most visitors to this site couldn’t care less about what’s going on in the charts.
Your article from a couple of months and the response it drew confirmed this.

Johnny Spasm

Curious who else might have had this problem. I ordered it Hotspot the Pet Shop Boys website, and the day of the CD release, I get an email saying that my order’s been canceled. Within the email, I’m told that I didn’t fill something out properly, and that I had 30 days to correct it, and never did. Of course, I was never notified that I did anything incorrectly, so I had no idea that anything was incorrect. The email was a “Do not reply” email, so I was basically screwed. It’s off the site.

Alan B

Their store is operated via Record Store who operate a very inflexible online system. Any issues no matter how small will result in your order being cancelled. Months ago I pre ordered a signed Blossoms CD which was released this week. Two days before release I got an email from them saying my order was cancelled because my credit card got declined (they had put a pre charge on my credit card when I placed the order months ago – which expired after a month and when they tried to take the actual payment on Wednesday my credit card company’s anti fraud software kicked in and rejected it) I got a text from from card company telling me about a “suspicious” transaction and to confirm if it was genuine. I did this straight away and my card was unlocked.
Record Store gave me no option to give them another card or to re-try the original credit card details I gave them. My order was cancelled automatically and if I wanted it I had to place another order. Fortunately they still had signed copies to pre-order and I re-ordered with the same card minutes later and got it yesterday. If it had sold out I wouldn’t have got a copy.
Ah I hear you say my original copy was unsold/unallocated and surely I could claim it via another order. Nope. I’ve had experience of this with them before. A couple of years ago I placed a pre order and the release date got delayed which put it past my credit card expiry date. Item was sold out on pre order. I quickly picked up on this and contacted them to explain the situation and asked them to update my credit card with its new expiry date. Couldn’t be done as their system wouldn’t allow it or for new credit card details to be used. They said my order would be cancelled if card was rejected and I couldn’t re-order as it had sold out. I argued with them that my allocated copy must still be there but no joy. Fortunately they charged my original card early just before it expired and I got it.
At least now you can cancel orders with them. About 5 years ago I had placed an order and they couldn’t get stock which dragged on for weeks, so I eventually emailed them to cancel. They gave me a refund but their system couldn’t actually cancel the order. When they got stock weeks later they still posted it to me and I had to post it back to them which they had asked me to do when they refunded me if it ever came into stock. As they say you couldn’t make it up.
In the bad old days they used to allocate signed items by the order in which they processed the final orders (just before release date and in random order) rather than the first x orders got the signed copies that they operate now. I’m sure after many complaints they now do it on a first come first served basis.

Simonf

I ordered my Depeche Mode box set last Saturday morning, having spent the Friday evening (after viewing Paul’s excellent video) working out where I could store it – space (or lack of ) is a major priority now, and it all hinged on whether there was enough of it. Luckily I sorted that out, and as mentioned in a previous post bagged one from Zoom.co.uk for £170 (now sold out there and everywhere else it appears) I know I am incredibly lucky to have got one at that late stage (and at that price), and it is absolutely bloody brilliant. It really is going to be the last boxset of this size and magnitude that I ever purchase so it’s great to go out on a real high!

Shawn C.

I also was lucky enough to score a copy at the low price point from Amazon US. However, unlike you, I have no idea where I’m going to store this thing. The box is massive. Although very well done, I wish they’d have included a slipcase for all the discs so I could stick the massive box in a closet somewhere and keep the discs on a shelf in the slipcase. Hate to hide the whole thing away, but I have no idea where to put this thing!

Giuseppe Pastorelli

My opinion about the MODE boxset is simple: why Sony has produced so few copies at a very high price (already commented about the fact that only the last 4 CDs are strictly essential… the other 14 only collectibles) when a lower price has could attracted more people justifying a larger pressing? I am a first-hour fan (Dreaming Of Me… you know it?) but I was never tempted to buy this product for few…. (it is easy/common to use the “grabbing hands” irony… I prefer to say that the time of “music for the masses” has gone)

Tim

The Depeche Mode is just a headscratcher to me.
You’re asking people who already have this material to cough up money to buy it again, this is clearly NOT aimed at someone who doesn’t have any DM and thinks, well, I don’t know if I even like them but what they heck I’ll buy the whole catalog. So reissue the original albums and leave plenty of usable space on each disk, so freaking stupid. Those discs should each be stacked and packed considering the quantity of b-sides, mixes and live tracks out there.

Hotspot totally would have done better if it wasn’t preceded by two lackluster efforts, especially (NOT-) Super. I can see where someone who likes their music but not enough to buy every album release would have given up on them after the last few years. I like most of Hotspot and think it is a strong return to quality, just ditch Dreamland and the wedding song (I feel bad that somewhere out there exists a couple that this was actually made for their wedding and the fanbase is dunking pretty hard on this track…..but the track is pretty awful).

mike

I agree. I think Super (or Bl**dy Awful) killed off some fans. Hotspot is good but it isnt Electric or anything else in the Parlophone era.

PdB

The wedding song is actually my favourite track on the album. It is a divisive track though…u either love or hate it.
I did go WTF when the traditional wedding music came in – but then my weird but wonderful radar went off – and I was like “love it!”.
I actually like Dreamland too. I really like the whole album really. Usually on first play of any album I usually don’t immediately enjoy every track – but on this album I didn’t skip any on eagerness to explore the next track.
PSB for me have always been a fun & interesting duo who provide some great beats. I’m still a huge fan.

Jakob

I (in Canada) ended up ordering MODE from the US Amazon and ended up getting it, including shipping, customs and exchange rate, for a touch less than half (in CAD) the Canadian list price. Bonkers. It does however take up far more shelf space than I anticipated. Oh well.

Shane

While listening to Hotspot for the second time I was wondering exactly that, why do albums go to number one these days? Certainly not the quality because unless you listen to the whole album you will never know, so apart from a minority of purchases, most will be made based on popularity of the artist.
And I guess PSB are only no.3 popular these days, which to be honest for an act of their age is still quite impressive. Madonna, Kylie and PSB seem to be rare cases of still going strong, albeit not comparable to their heyday.
I have no bloody idea wtf J Hus is but thanks to Paul now I know, and I have to ask, when will this annoying rap obsession stop? There was a disco sucks movement, why not one for silly rap for crying out loud?

I think the majority of Hotstop is pretty good. It sounds like a normal old-fashioned PSB album as opposed to very electronic like the previous ones so I think it’s a good thing.
Haven’t obviously played it enough to say more but having only received the vinyl so far I have to say that the artwork looks fantastic, the outside, the inside, the inner sleeve and the labels. While the subject of the front itself was disappointing compared to what could have been, if you judge it on its own merits I think it’s great!.

Burning The Heather for me has really come one of their best singles. I’m really liking Monkey Business as well and Dreamland is made more tolerable thrown in the middle of the album as opposed to being the newest single of Pet Shop Boys.

Steven Roberts

Why, if the MODE box is pretty much a sell-out on the day of release, would the record company not seek to press up some more and, you know, make more money? Why would they turn down the opportunity of making a bigger profit?

Are they that terrified of being left with overstocks? Or are they just stupid?

Liam Bastick

Actually, as someone who has worked on costing these items and deciding on economic viability, there could be another reason too. If you start doing second or subsequent runs, it tarnishes future premium product. People remember when things sell out and they miss out, but they will damned well make sure they buy next time a limited edition product by the same COMPANY (not necessarily artist comes out). Therefore, some companies will consider the ramifications for their physical product pipeline. I bet the second coming of the Queen Coloured Vinyl Box Set was probably a weighing up of the pros and cons.

It is amazing how some things do go through the roof (Bob Dylan Vol 12 18 CD, David Bowie’s Blackstar, Elbow box set, Pet Shop Boys Yes 12 LP) and others well, not so much… If we could predict it we’d all be rich on DevilBay wouldn’t we..?

Depeche Mode took me by surprise. It looked like it was languishing until about five days before release – I reckon everyone decided to take the plunge at the same time!

Jamez

In a thousand years, an archeologist will dig up a Pet Shop Boys CD (and hopefully have a way to listen to it), and their legacy will continue. What will J Hus leave to history…an invisible stream?

stevieB

However, Hotspot did make No. 1 on the OCC album sales chart, with the Dave Clark Five at No. 2. To my mind, this is the album chart that matters to me, and the one that I always look at first.