"West End Girls" was and is a novelty—an interesting one, perhaps, but in the end a lot of shtick. It has always been everything that came after it that interested me about these purveyors of pop music's everlasting now, starting with all the other hits, e.g., "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," "It's a Sin," "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," "Always on My Mind," and "Domino Dancing." Among this handful are four top 10 U.S. hits, one both a Willie Nelson and an Elvis Presley cover, and one a duet with Dusty Springfield. The Pet Shop Boys are not one-hit wonders. And those songs aren't even their best (well, there's an argument that "It's a Sin" is their best) (well, also "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"). "Rent" is one of the earliest I knew, after I got a laugh when I spied the two of them in tuxedos and Neil Tennant yawning on the cover of Actually and bought the album. I thought "Rent" was hilarious, of course, as intended. But the long-term staying power is from a certain quality of oh let's call it neorealism, which lofts it well beyond the realm of a one-joke song. Yes, yes, there's this over and over in the chorus: "I love you, oh, you pay my rent." I take that as the joke, as opposed to the verses, where the details are laid out with economy and precision: "You dress me up, I'm your puppet / You buy me things, I love it / You bring me food, I need it / You give me love, I feed it." It's pretty too. There's a version by Liza Minnelli from her 1989 album Results, produced by the Pet Shop Boys, but it's played in a whole other register. It's funny too, but a bit wintry about it, as befits a star of her magnitude (listen).