This song is a collaboration with the production team Xenomania, who are best known for their work with the British pop acts Girls Aloud and Sugababes.
CBC News asked Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe what inspired the song's anti-materialistic message. He replied: "Neil (Tennant) wrote the lyrics, but unlike on the last album - where we actually almost had a manifesto of what we wanted it to be about - this time, we just wrote a lot of songs and they ended up being rather good pop songs. I think there's a general theme of love on the album. But also I think it was inevitable that there was going to be some financial collapse, because there was just so much greed and selfishness out there with all the city bonuses and all the rest of it, being constantly bombarded on television with images of wealth, particularly on MTV Cribs, and stuff like that. I think it's just really distasteful and vulgar and ends up leading to a horrible, must-have culture, and so this might have been subconscious, really; I think it definitely was a reaction against the materialism of the recent years."
This features a male chorus in a similar fashion to previous Pet Shop Boys singles "Go West" and "New York City Boy."
Dutch digital artist Han Hoogerbrugge directed the animated video clip.
This song was the Pet Shop Boys' ninth #1 on Dance/Club Play Songs. The pair thus overtook Depeche Mode to break the record for the most chart-toppers by duos or groups on the Billboard dance chart.
Tennant told the story of the song to The Big Issue: "The first single off our album was actually a track that Xenomania were keeping for a project they were going to do themselves. We managed to wrestle it from their solo project on to our album and then I came up with the idea of 'You don't have to be beautiful but it helps.' That became the basis of the lyric. Miranda (Cooper of Xenomania) wrote a very clever melody for the 'Boy, it's tough getting around the world' part, which isn't a melody either myself or Chris would have come up with. It's actually saying all you need is love and money can't buy me love. It's a return to The Beatles, and I think that's an appropriate sentiment for where the world is at the moment. We didn't sit down and plan to do that, it just came out, but it's definitely a song for 2009."