When interviewed by Johnny Marr for the Observer Music Magazine, March 2009, Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant explained that he "always has to come back to the UK because it's my inspiration." He added that this song is "about the UK, it's even about northern Britain. I left Newcastle in 1992, and yet in 1997 I bought a house up north and I never thought I would do that. I thought I'd become southern."
Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett arranged the orchestral backing to this track, which was played by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
The Chinese government insisted that for its release in China, this song's lyrics be removed and replaced with an instrumental version. The offending lyrics were: "Governments fall/Glaciers Melt/Hurricanes bawl…/Resentment Remains/both east and west." Tennant commented on the censorship: "Does the Chinese government really fear the power of a song to bring about change?"