Winner, whilst for my money the weakest lead single for a Pet Shop Boys album we've had yet, is nowhere near as bad as some of the fan-base would have you believe. (It's also worth pointing out that, generally, it's got a good critical reception). Yes it's Olympic stylings could be said to show a certain amount of bare-naked opportunism and cynicism that you wouldn't expect from Neil and Chris but it's not as if it's totally unheard of. Their camp cover of U2's Where The Streets Have No Name, for instance, was released to chase a "hit" after Being Boring's disappointing chart position - and perhaps the realisation that even a fantastic remix of How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously wasn't going to take that song into the upper echelon of the pop charts.
Winner is still the best of the Olympic "cash-in" tracks I've heard and is a damn site better than the official Muse song. It's also backed by three rather cracking "b" sides, which with two double CD sets in the bag have always been a PSB strong point.
A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" is perhaps this generation's Shameless, with it's pumping backing track and witty lyrics. Tennant's "mmmm" that breaks up the title in the chorus is perfectly timed and is simply the sort of thing most pop acts wouldn't come up with.
A Walk Through The Woods is a more disconcerting effort, putting as it does a Rudyard Kipling poem to music. It's not an immediate, ahem, winner but repeated listens do prove it to be more than an atmospheric curiosity and again it's simply the kind of thing you don't get with other pop acts.
I Started A Joke rounds things off, being a tribute to the recently departed Robin Gibb. It's lush and lovely and, like many a PSB cover version, sounds as if it could be one of their originals.
Overall this is a really rather good package, even if Winner, as nice as it is, could never be said to be a "classic" PSB single.