“WHERE’S the fantastic pop song about Putin?” Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant asked at the end of This Cultural Life (Radio 4) last Saturday. “It’s as though it’s not the concern of pop music,” he continued. “Well, I think it is the concern of pop music.”

That’s the next Pet Shop Boys single sorted, presumably.

Tennant was the latest guest on John Wilson’s show and as ever he was an erudite and entertaining one, even when he was having a go at the state of contemporary pop.

Most of what he and Wilson discussed Tennant has talked about a million times before. But he never sounds weary about it. It’s as if he’s still amused by his own story. What a lovely thing to be able to say.

And there were novel, intriguing things here, too. He talked about Bowie as a conduit to his sexuality and explained that West End Girls had been written as a rap originally. He then recited the lyrics as if he came from New York rather than Newcastle. In a parallel universe the Pet Shop Boys are a one-hit wonder remembered mostly for Tennant’s dubious American accent.

Back in the 1980s, Tennant was one of my own holy trinity of English Catholic lyricists (we are always attracted to the other, aren’t we?), along with Paddy McAloon and he whose name is persona non grata these days, but begins Steven Patrick ...

All of them were immersed in pop music and its possibilities. And all of them had a hinterland. Tennant was a student of pop, but he was also a student of literature. He was as interested in Evelyn Waugh and TS Eliot as he was in Grandmaster Flash. He outlined to Wilson the influence of Eliot’s The Wasteland on the lyrical voice of West End Girls.

As for contemporary pop, Tennant admitted that he found it a bit too narcissistic for his own tastes. “Sometimes I wish there was more art in it.”

The Pet Shop Boys called their second greatest hits collection “PopArt”. A perfect summation of what they offered.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the musical universe over on 6 Music on Sunday lunchtime, Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks has a new show entitled Dream Fuel which is a mixture of chat and laidback music.

Sunday’s programme was a particular delight because it gave us the chance to hear Parks and her guest Zadie Smith fangirling about Prince (and why wouldn’t you?) and gush over Radiohead.

The scary bit was the realisation that Smith’s debut novel White Teeth is now more than 20 years old and she’s settling into her late forties with a husband (Nick Laird) and two kids.

And ageing and its relationship to pop was one of the themes of Smith’s conversation with Parks.

“Sometimes we’ll be listening to Radiohead in the car, and I can’t believe I’m sitting with my kids singing Karma Police like it’s just another song,” Smith told Parks. “When you’re 15, you put it on, and you shook and you wept.”

“I guess it’s just about how music affects you differently as you age. I can tell when I’m sitting there and Nick is sitting next to me and, even though we’re middle-aged people, when that comes on, you’re still 15 screaming in your room.”

Parks suggested that adolescence and music are woven in and around each other, that the music means more because it is attached to a time in your life when you’re feeling intense emotions, “and everything felt like the end of the world.”

Everything, agreed Smith. “And maybe in your twenties and thirties you spend a lot of time being nostalgic for this more authentic person who felt in that way.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s true, she added. “Why would anyone imagine that the 15-year-old them is the real one? It is in itself such an adolescent idea. And people carry it throughout their lives. They carry it so strongly. ‘That was when I was an authentic person.’ But, of course, the truth is whatever year you’re living in you have to live as authentically as you can.”

As good an Easter Sunday sermon as any, I reckon.

Listen Out For: Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley, Radio 4, Wednesday, 11.30amA new series in which Lucy Worsley looks back at the crimes of Victorian women through a contemporary feminist lens.