West End Girls named UK's greatest ever number one single

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys pose for a photo circa 1983. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images)

The Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls has been named the greatest ever UK number one single.

The chart-topping 1985 song, written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, topped a list of “The 100 greatest UK No 1s” published by the Guardian.

The chart, compiled by Guardian’s music critics Ben Beaumont-Thomas, Alex Petridis and Laura Snapes and published over the last six weeks, was selected from every single to top the UK music charts since they began in 1952.

Writing about selecting the Pet Shop Boys’ electronic hit at number one, deputy music editor Laura Snapes said: “West End Girls isn’t so much social commentary on London’s burgeoning yuppie class as it is an impressionist marvel, in which lust, naivety, disco and opaque references to Lenin rush by as if caught in the reflection of a bus window.”

Talking to the Guardian, songwriter Neil Tennant said he would have chosen The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations for the top spot.

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The song, partly inspired by T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land, was released twice as a single. It reached 121 in the UK charts on its first run, but scored a number one in October 1985 when it was re-recorded with producer Stephen Hague for the duo’s debut album Please. It went on to be named Best Single at the 1987 Brit Awards, and Best International Hit at the Ivor Novello Awards the same year.

The Specials’ Ghost Town made the number two spot in the Guardian list, followed by She Loves You, The Beatles’ breakout hit from 1963.

Ariana Grande’s 2018 hit Thank U, Next is the most recent song to make the top 100.

Top 10

  1. West End Boys - The Pet Shop Boys

  2. Ghost Town - The Specials

  3. She Loves You - The Beatles

  4. I Feel Love - Donna Summer

  5. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - Dead or Alive

  6. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson

  7. Don’t You Want Me - The Human League

  8. Fire Starter - The Prodigy

  9. Dancing Queen - ABBA

  10. Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye

Read the full list on the Guardian here.