It's a Sin

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For the 1947 Zeb Turner/Fred Rose composition, see It's a Sin (Zeb Turner song).
"It's a Sin"
Single by Pet Shop Boys
from the album Actually
B-side "You Know Where You Went Wrong"
Released 15 June 1987
Format 7", 12", cassette, CD
Recorded 1987
Genre Synthpop
Length 4:59
Label Parlophone Records / EMI Records Ltd.
Writer(s) Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe
Producer(s) Julian Mendelsohn, Stephen Hague
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Suburbia"
(1986)
"It's a Sin"
(1987)
"What Have I Done to Deserve This?"
(1987)
Music sample

"It's a Sin" is a song recorded by English synthpop duo the Pet Shop Boys which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in 1987, and was their third top ten in the US when it reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background and writing[edit]

Written by Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant, "It's a Sin" was the lead single from the duo's second "proper" album, Actually. Released in June 1987, it became the duo's second UK number one single. It was also a massive hit across Europe, supposedly the best-selling European single of 1987. In the United States it reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the duo's third Top 10 hit there. A demo of the track was first cut in 1984 with Bobby O, and the song's form in the demo remained intact to the final version, although the released production is far more dramatic.

The song is a description of Tennant's Catholic upbringing and education at St Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle upon Tyne. The song uses extensive samples from Latin masses (specifically, Tennant reciting a part of the Confiteor, and other sounds recorded at locations such as Westminster Cathedral) and religious imagery throughout to reinforce the feel of the song. Tennant has said that he wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes, purging his emotions in a moment of frustration and anger. The song has been compared to fellow 1980s new wave band Tears for Fears' "Mad World" for its themes of transgression and social rejection.

The Latin passage near the end translates as, "I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, act and omission, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault".

The dramatic, overblown production style of the song, loaded with synthesizers, orchestra hits and bookended by a non sequitur sample of a NASA countdown, has come to exemplify the most theatrical extremes of the Pet Shop Boys' musical style.[1] To date, it remains a concert staple, being one of only two songs (alongside "West End Girls") that has been played during every Pet Shop Boys tour.[2]

Controversy[edit]

At the time of the single's release, British DJ Jonathan King accused Pet Shop Boys of plagiarising the melody for "It's a Sin" from Cat Stevens' 1971 hit "Wild World". He made the claims in The Sun newspaper, for which he wrote a regular column during the 1980s. King went so far as to release his own cover version of "Wild World" as a single, using a similar musical arrangement to "It's a Sin", in an effort to demonstrate his claims. This single flopped, while Pet Shop Boys sued King, eventually winning out-of-court damages, which they donated to charity.[3]

Track listing[edit]

7": Parlophone / R 6158 (UK)

  1. "It's a Sin" – 4:59
  2. "You Know Where You Went Wrong" – 5:51

12": Parlophone / 12R 6158 (UK)

  1. "It's a Sin" (Disco Mix) – 7:39
  2. "You Know Where You Went Wrong" – 5:51
  3. "It's a Sin" (7" version) – 4:59

CD: Parlophone / CDR 6158 (UK)

  1. "It's a Sin" (7" version) – 4:59
  2. "You Know Where You Went Wrong" – 5:51
  3. "It's a Sin" (Disco Mix) – 7:39

12": Parlophone / 12RX 6158 (UK)

  1. "It's a Sin" (Remix) (Ian Levine) – 8:15
  2. "You Know Where You Went Wrong" (Rough Mix) – 6:38

12" Remix (US)

  1. "It's a Sin" (Phil Harding Latin Vocal Mix) – 9:14
  2. "It's a Sin" (Phil Harding Latin Dub Mix) – 4:20
  3. "It's a Sin" (Remix) – 8:15
  4. "It's a Sin" (Disco Mix) – 7:39
  5. "You Know Where You Went Wrong" – 5:51

Other recordings[edit]

In 2004, the band participated in Passport Back to the Bars, a series of benefit concerts to raise funds for Shelter and War Child, set in the various Barfly venues.[4] Their show at the Camden Town Barfly (17 March 2004) was noted as their first-ever without backing musicians;[5] it included a new arrangement of "It's a Sin", which would later be recorded in the studio, performed on Parkinson, and finally released on the 2006 compilation Popjustice: 100% Solid Pop Music.

Italian singer Lord Vampyr covered the song on his fourth studio album, Gothika Vampyrika Heretika.

German power metal band Gamma Ray covered the song on their sixth studio album Power Plant from 1999.

Italian black metal band Graveworm included a cover of the song on some releases of their fourth studio album Engraved in Black from 2003.

American darkwave band The Crüxshadows covered this song on the compilation Very Introspective, Actually - A Tribute to The Pet Shop Boys in 2007.

Paul Anka covered It's a sin in his covers album Rock Swings (2005)

Music video[edit]

Directed by Derek Jarman, the "It's a Sin" video marked the experimental director's first of several collaborations with the band. It extended the lyrical themes of the song by showing Tennant under arrest by an inquisition with Lowe as his jailer and Ron Moody in the role of his judge, interspersed with brief clips of personifications of the seven deadly sins.

Charts and sales[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston
German number one single
17 July 1987 – 21 August 1987 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Voyage Voyage" by Desireless
Swiss number one single
26 July 1987 – 30 August 1987 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"La Bamba" by La Bamba
Swedish number one single
29 July 1987 – 16 September 1987 (8 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley
Preceded by
"Star Trekkin'" by The Firm
UK number one single
4 July 1987 – 18 July 1987 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Who's That Girl" by Madonna
Preceded by
"Hexen" by Ecco
Austrian number one single
15 August 1987 – 15 September 1987 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Voyage Voyage" by Desireless
Preceded by
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" by Michael Jackson
Norwegian VG-Lista number one single
39/1987 (1 week)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "It's a Sin". Allmusic. Retrieved 2006-09-10. 
  2. ^ Studer, Wayne. "Songs That the Pet Shop Boys Have Performed "Live"". Pet Shop Boys Commentary. Geowayne.com. Retrieved 2006-09-10. 
  3. ^ Janet Street-Porter (3 April 2005). "Editor-At-Large: He lured boys. He's a bully. Now he bleats". The Independent (London). Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Youngs, Ian (27 February 2004). "Charity gig tickets fetch £1,375". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  5. ^ "The new single 'Flamboyant' out on 29 March". The Guardian. 17 March 2004. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "It's a Sin", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved 10 April 2008)
  7. ^ German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de (Retrieved 10 April 2008)
  8. ^ Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved 10 April 2008)
  9. ^ Italian Single Chart Hit parade Italia (Retrieved 31 May 2008)
  10. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  11. ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved 10 April 2008)
  12. ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 12 August 2008)
  13. ^ 1987 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  14. ^ "Single top 100 over 1987" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  15. ^ 1987 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  16. ^ Austrian certifications ifpi.at (Retrieved 12 August 2008)
  17. ^ Finnish certifications Ifpi.fi (Retrieved 21 September 2010)
  18. ^ Swedish certifications Ifpi.se (Retrieved 11 September 2008)
  19. ^ UK certifications Bpi.co.uk (Retrieved 12 August 2008)

References[edit]

  • Heath, Chris (2001). "It's a Sin". In Actually / Further Listening 1987-1988 [CD liner notes]. London: Pet Shop Boys Partnership.
  • Longmire, Ernie and Steffen Gärtner (1989–2006). "Pet Shop Boys: It's a Sin" (TXT). Gardner's Pet Shop Boys Discography. Gardner Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 2006-09-10. 

External links[edit]