It’s A Sin was the first single from the boys’ second album Actually, and was released in 1987. It went straight to No. 1 in the UK Charts and stayed there for three weeks. It was also a big success in the rest of Europe, and it reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the duo’s third top-10 hit in the US.
The idea behind It’s A Sin is Neil Tennant’s catholic upbringing and education at St. Cuthberts High School in Newcastle Upon Tyne; Tennant claims that he suffered homophobic bullying there, and the song is also a subtle indication of his homosexuality (he didn’t come out until 1994). The lyrics were written by Tennant in just about 15 minutes when he was in a state of frustration and anger.
It’s A Sin is one of the most theatrical and dramatic songs from the Pet Shop Boys. It’s loaded with synthies, big orchestra arrangements and even includes a sample from a NASA countdown. To date, it is one of two songs (the other one being West End Girls) that has been played during every PSB tour.
With the single release in 1987, a British DJ and record producer claimed that the melody of It’s A Sin was taken from Cat Stevens’ hit Wild World. He even released a cover version of Wild World tuned to the PSB song to prove his point, but the single flopped, and the boys won damages which they donated to charity.
The video for It’s A Sin was directed by Derek Jarman and was the first collaboration with the boys. The video extended the theme of the song by showing Tennant under arrest by an inquisition with Lowe as his jailer. Also the seven deadly sins were portrayed in various clips.
Cover-Versions of the song were recorded by various artists with very different musical backgrounds: crooner Paul Anka recorded it for his 2004 cover-album Rock Swings; German powermetal-band Gamma Ray included it in their 1999 album Powerplant; Italian death-metal (!) band Graveworm released it as a bonus track on the Japanese release of one of their albums, and futurepop-band XP8 did a trance-version for a 2006 PSB tribute-album.
As with all the other Pet Shop Boys songs before, many remixes have been made of It’s A Sin, amongst them one by Ian Levine, another one by Phil Harding. The B-Side to the single was You Know Where You Were Wrong, in my opinion one of their weaker songs.
As always, I’m offering you some of the many mixes, the B-Side and the video for It’s A Sin.
Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin (Disco Mix)
Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin (Miami Mix)
Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin (Barfly Mix)
Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin (Ian Levine Remix)
Pet Shop Boys – You Know Where You Went Wrong
Check back soon for the next chapter!