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Studio album by
Released7 September 1987 (1987-09-07)
LabelParlophone, EMI America
Pet Shop Boys chronology
Singles from Actually
  1. "It's a Sin"
    Released: 15 June 1987
  2. "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"
    Released: 10 August 1987
  3. "Rent"
    Released: 12 October 1987
  4. "Heart"
    Released: 21 March 1988

Actually (stylised as Pet Shop Boys, actually.) is the second studio album by English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was released on 7 September 1987 by Parlophone in the United Kingdom and by EMI Manhattan in the United States and Canada. According to Neil Tennant[1][2][3] and music historian Wayne Studer,[4] Actually loosely critiques Thatcherism,[1][4] the political zeitgeist of the 1980s, and was recorded in anticipation of Margaret Thatcher's re-election.[5]

Actually is featured in the 2005 musical reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,[6] and in 2006 Q magazine placed the album at number 22 in its list of the "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[7] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 88 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[8] In 2020, Rolling Stone placed it at No. 435 in its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[9]


Actually was released on 7 September 1987 by Parlophone in the United Kingdom and by EMI Manhattan in the United States and Canada. In television commercials for the release, Lowe and Tennant were shown in black tie, blank-faced against a white background. The former seems unimpressed by a radio DJ-style Alan 'Fluff' Freeman voiceover listing their previous hits and the new LP's singles, while the latter eventually "gets bored" and yawns, with the image then freezing to create, roughly, the album's cover shot.

Actually spawned four UK top 10 singles: the number-one single "It's a Sin", "Rent", "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"—a duet with fellow Parlophone artist Dusty Springfield which peaked at number two in both the UK and US and led to a resurgence of interest in Springfield's earlier work—and another UK number one in April 1988 with a remixed version of the song "Heart".[10]

During this period the Pet Shop Boys also completed a full-length motion picture called It Couldn't Happen Here.[10] Featuring songs by the duo, it was most famous for containing the video for "Always on My Mind" (starring Joss Ackland as a blind priest), which—while not on Actually was released as a single during this period.

Actually was re-released in 2001 (as were most of the duo's albums up to that point) as Actually/Further Listening 1987–1988.[11] The reissue was digitally remastered and included a second disc of B-sides, remixes done by the Pet Shop Boys and previously unreleased material from around the time of the album's original release. Another re-release followed on 9 February 2009 under the title of Actually: Remastered, containing only the 10 tracks of the original release. With the 2009 re-release, the 2001 two-disc reissue was discontinued. On 2 March 2018, a new remastered two-disc Actually/Further Listening edition was released; the content remains the same as the 2001 edition.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[13]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[14]
Q5/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[16]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[17]
The Village VoiceA−[19]

Actually was well received by critics. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice praised it as "actual pop music with something actual to say—pure commodity, and proud of it."[19] In his retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that Actually is the album "[where] the Pet Shop Boys perfected their melodic, detached dance-pop".[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Although not released as a single, the track "Shopping" is frequently featured as background music in British television news and current affairs programmes dealing with retail business issues and as bumper music on home shopping shows. This is despite the fact that the song is actually a critique of privatisation in 1980s Britain, and has little to do with actual shopping.[20] "Shopping" was also used in a season 1 episode of the Disney Channel television series Lizzie McGuire.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe), except as noted.

Side A
1."One More Chance"Tennant, Lowe, Bobby Orlando5:30
2."What Have I Done to Deserve This?" (with Dusty Springfield)Lowe, Tennant, Allee Willis4:18
3."Shopping" 3:37
4."Rent" 5:08
5."Hit Music" 4:44
Side B
1."It Couldn't Happen Here"Tennant, Ennio Morricone, Lowe5:20
2."It's a Sin" 4:59
3."I Want to Wake Up" 5:08
4."Heart" 3:58
5."King's Cross" 5:10

Further Listening 1987–1988[edit]

Reissue bonus disc
1."I Want to Wake Up" (breakdown mix) 6:00
2."Heart" (Shep Pettibone version) 4:12
3."You Know Where You Went Wrong" 5:50
4."One More Chance" (seven-inch mix) 3:50
5."It's a Sin" (disco mix) 7:41
6."What Have I Done to Deserve This?" (extended mix)Lowe, Tennant, Willis6:47
7."Heart" (disco mix) 8:40
8."A New Life"Tennant, Lowe, Helena Springs4:55
9."Always on My Mind" (demo version)Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James4:03
10."Rent" (seven-inch mix) 3:33
11."I Want a Dog" 4:58
12."Always on My Mind" (extended dance mix)Carson, Christopher, James8:15
13."Do I Have To?" 5:15
14."Always on My Mind" (dub mix)Carson, Christopher, James2:15


Pet Shop Boys

Guest musicians


  • Julian Mendelsohn – production on tracks A1, A3 to A5 and B2
  • Stephen Hague - production on tracks A2 and B5
  • David Jacob - co-production on track B1
  • Shep Pettibone - co-production on track B3
  • Andy Richards - co-production on track B4



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[47] Gold 25,000*
Brazil 160,000[48]
Canada (Music Canada)[49] Platinum 100,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[50] Platinum 68,416[50]
Germany (BVMI)[51] Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[52] Platinum 20,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[53] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[54] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[55] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[56] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[57] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[58] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide N/A 4,000,000[59]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Tennant, Neil. "Between the lines – Actually". Pet Shop Boys at dead of night (Interview). Interviewed by Tomas Mosler. Retrieved 14 January 2017. When this album came out many people, including ourselves, took the whole album to be loosely about Thatcherism
  2. ^ Tennant, Neil. "Explication". Pet Shop Boys Catalogue (Interview). Retrieved 14 January 2017. The first line sets up the song. It's an angry song about Thatcherism. Mrs Thatcher came in on the promise of firm government and I'm interpreting 'the smack of firm government' literally as hitting someone.
  3. ^ Studer, Wayne. "King's Cross". Retrieved 29 April 2017. As Neil has described it, the song is 'a hymn to the people getting left out of Thatcherism' (the economic policies of the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher).
  4. ^ a b Studer, Wayne. "Twenty-something". Retrieved 2 May 2017. Thematically, this song could have sat comfortably alongside "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" from the dawn of their career, or had a place on their subsequent classic Thatcherism-critiquing album Actually.
  5. ^ "I'm with stupid". Absolutely Pet Shop Boys. No. 30. 2 April 2006. p. 4. Retrieved 3 February 2017. Just like we were terrified Margaret Thatcher was going to lose the 1987 election just before Actually came out, ruining our album about Thatcherism, even while voting Labour.
  6. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  7. ^ "40 Best Albums of the 1980s". Q. No. 241. August 2006. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  8. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  9. ^ Rolling Stone (22 September 2020). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  10. ^ a b Levine, Nick (2 February 2012). "25 Reasons To Love Pet Shop Boys' Actually'". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Pet Shop Boys To Release New Batch of Remastered Albums". 4 July 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Actually – Pet Shop Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  13. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Pet Shop Boys". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  14. ^ Johnson, Connie (20 September 1987). "Pet Shop Pop". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  15. ^ Price, Simon (April 2018). "Pet Shop Boys: Actually". Q. No. 383. p. 119.
  16. ^ Hull, Tom (2004). "Pet Shop Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 630–31. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Sheffield, Rob (1995). "Pet Shop Boys". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 294–95. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  18. ^ Dalton, Stephen (March 2018). "Pet Shop Boys: Please / Actually / Introspective". Uncut. No. 250. p. 43.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (29 December 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 232. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  22. ^ " – Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  23. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0901". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  24. ^ " – Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  25. ^ "European Hot 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 4 no. 42. 24 October 1987. p. 22. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  26. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 233. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  27. ^ "Le Détail des Albums de chaque Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Retrieved 3 August 2018. Select "PET SHOP BOYS" from the drop-down menu and click "OK".
  28. ^ " – Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
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  31. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
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  33. ^ " – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  34. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  35. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  36. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2018. 10. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  37. ^ "Top 100 Albums of '87". RPM. Vol. 47 no. 12. 26 December 1987. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved 3 August 2018 – via Library and Archives Canada.
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – LP 1987". (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  39. ^ "European Charts of the Year 1987" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 4 no. 51/52. 26 December 1987. p. 35. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  40. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1987 par InfoDisc". InfoDisc (in French). Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1987". Offizielle Deutsche Charts (in German). Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Gallup Year End Charts 1987: Albums". Record Mirror. London. 23 January 1988. p. 37. ISSN 0144-5804.
  43. ^ "Jahreshitparade Alben 1988". (in German). Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  44. ^ "1988 Year End Eurocharts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 6 no. 52/1. 1 January 1989. p. 31. OCLC 29800226 – via American Radio History.
  45. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1988". Offizielle Deutsche Charts (in German). Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  46. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1991). "Top 100 Albums: 1988". BPI YearBook 1989/90. London: British Phonographic Industry. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-9061-5410-6.
  47. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). IFPI Austria. 10 January 1994.
  48. ^ "Discografia marcada pela 'Dance music'". Jornal do Brasil (in Portuguese). 9 December 1994. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  49. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Music Canada. 12 January 1988.
  50. ^ a b "Pet Shop Boys" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  51. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Pet Shop Boys; 'Actually')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  52. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1988". IFPI Hong Kong.
  53. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Recorded Music NZ. 18 September 1988. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  54. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 922. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  55. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 10 November 1987.
  56. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Pet Shop Boys; 'Actually')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  57. ^ "British album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". British Phonographic Industry. 29 April 1988.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Actually in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  58. ^ "American album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Recording Industry Association of America. 23 November 1987. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  59. ^ Levine, Nick (2 February 2012). "25 Reasons To Love Pet Shop Boys' 'Actually'". NME. Retrieved 6 April 2018.

External links[edit]