The Irony and the Ecstasy

The Queer Aging of Pet Shop Boys and LCD Soundsystem in Electronic Dance Music

  • Larissa Wodtke University of Winnipeg


The English duo Pet Shop Boys and American group LCD Soundsystem are notable for their representation as artists who entered and succeeded in the predominately youthful market of popular music and the hedonistic aesthetic of electronic dance music (EDM) at ages considered old for the industry: 32 for vocalists/lyricists Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) and James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem). Neither of these bands makes straightforward EDM—Pet Shop Boys fall under pop and LCD Soundsystem can be considered post-punk—but both are influenced by the New York City dance scene of the late 70s and early 80s, and are characterized as ironic. I argue that Pet Shop Boys and LCD Soundsystem are ironic because of their belated, knowing position in a genre that privileges the infinite present and unproductive reproduction through repetition. In light of Lee Edelman’s claim that irony is the queerest of rhetorical devices, the ambivalence of Pet Shop Boys’ and LCD Soundsystem’s ostensible lack of youth and the youthful temporality of their EDM aesthetic place them in a queer tension between notions of immediate authenticity and the distance of age.

Author Biography

Larissa Wodtke, University of Winnipeg

Larissa Wodtke is Project Manager for the Six Seasons of the Asiniskow Ithiniwak project and research coordinator at the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures at the University of Winnipeg. Her own research has been published in the Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, Under My Thumb: The Songs That Hate Women and The Women That Love Them (2017), Crowdfunding the Future: Media Industries, Ethics and Digital Society (2015), and Seriality and Texts for Young People: The Compulsion to Repeat (2014), and she co-wrote the book Triptych: Three Studies of Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible (2017) with Rhian E. Jones and Daniel Lukes.

Feature Articles