One of the first things I learned about WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine when I started my little 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s, there in 1996 was the Begathon. WMPG gets approximately 1/3 of its funding from the University of Southern Maine, approximately 1/3 from underwriting, and approximately 1/3 from listener donations. A large chunk of the latter comes from the Begathon. What started out as a 2-week pledge drive in which volunteer radio hosts would “beg” to raise money for the station is now split up into two 1-week pledge drives, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. It’s come a long way since my first Begathon in the Fall of 1996. My very last Begathon for WMPG will be on Sunday, 9.25.2016.
One of my favorite “money” songs (at any time of year) is the second worldwide single for London’s Pet Shop Boys – “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money).” From their debut album, PLEASE, “Opportunities” was the follow-up to their global No. 1 hit, “West End Girls.”
“Opportunities” was written and recorded in 1983, before their big break a couple years later. The re-recorded version (for PLEASE) was produced by super-producer (and Portland, Maine native) Stephen Hague. It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1986, when “West End Girls” was still in the Top 15. “Opportunities” would go on to spend a week at No. 10 in early August 1986. It was the band’s second of five Top 10 hits in America.
Around the globe, “Opportunities” reached No. 2 in New Zealand, No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and the Top 20 in the U.K., Ireland and Spain. There were two videos for the song. The first version (included in the link below) is my favorite of the two, is a bit haunting and darker, and features the song’s original spoken outro ending: “All the love that we had / And the love that we hide / Who will bury us / When we die?”
The second video version of “Opportunities” was directed by renowned Polish director, Zbigniew Rybczyński (and MTV Video Vanguard recipient), who has directed memorable videos like “Close (To The Edit)” by The Art Of Noise, “The Original Wrapper” by Lou Reed, “Time Stand Still” by Rush (featuring Aimee Mann of ’til Tuesday), and Simple Minds’ “Alive And Kicking” and “All The Things She Said”(the latter of which used a technique that was used again in the second “Opportunities” video, where Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe appear duplicated over and over, passing to each other symbols of different statuses they represent, like a top hat, a trophy, a brick, and a sledgehammer).
“Opportunities” might not be as well-remembered as other Pet Shop Boys hits like “West End Girls,” “Always On My Mind” or “It’s A Sin,” but I’ve loved this song since the first time I heard it. If you need a refresher, take this, um, opportunity and check out the video link below. I can’t guaRONtee you’ll make lots of money, but I hope you’ll enjoy it just the same…