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Studio album by Pet Shop Boys
Released 7 September 1987 (1987-09-07)
Recorded 1986–1987
Studio Sarm West Studios, Advision Studios, London
Length 47:52
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 album by English pop duo Pet Shop Boys, 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 No. 22 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[7] In 2012 Slant Magazine listed the album at No. 88 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[8]


Actually was released on 7 September 1987 by record label Parlophone in the UK and EMI Manhattan in the United States and Canada. In TV commercials (in the UK, at least) 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 No. 1 lead-off single "It's a Sin", "Rent", "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" – a duet with fellow Parlophone artist Dusty Springfield which peaked at No. 2 in both the UK and US and led to a resurgence of interest in Springfield's earlier work – and another UK No. 1 in April 1988 with a remixed version of the song "Heart".

During this period the Pet Shop Boys also completed a full-length motion picture called It Couldn't Happen Here. 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 group's albums up to that point) as Actually/Further Listening 1987–1988. The re-released version was not only digitally remastered but came with 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. Yet another re-release followed on 9 February 2009 under the title of Actually: Remastered. This version contains only the 10 tracks of the original release. With the 2009 re-release, the 2001 2CD re-release was discontinued. On 2 March 2018 a new remastered 2CD Actually/Further listening edition was released.The content remains the same as 2001 edition.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[12]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 9/10[13]
The Village Voice A−[14]

Actually has been well received by critics.

Robert Christgau gave the album an A– grade, writing "this is actual pop music with something actual to say—pure commodity, and proud of it."[14]

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".[9]

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 programs 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.[15] "Shopping" was also used on a Season 1 episode of the Disney Channel television series Lizzie McGuire.

Track listing[edit]

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

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "One More Chance" Tennant, Lowe, Bobby Orlando 5:30
2. "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" (with Dusty Springfield) Lowe, Tennant, Allee Willis 4:18
3. "Shopping"   3:37
4. "Rent"   5:08
5. "Hit Music"   4:44
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "It Couldn't Happen Here" Tennant, Ennio Morricone, Lowe 5:20
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
No. Title Writer(s) Length
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, Willis 6:47
7. "Heart" (disco mix)   8:40
8. "A New Life" Tennant, Lowe, Helena Springs 4:55
9. "Always on My Mind" (demo version) Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James 4:03
10. "Rent" (seven-inch mix)   3:33
11. "I Want a Dog"   4:58
12. "Always on My Mind" (extended dance mix) Carson, Christopher, James 8:15
13. "Do I Have To?"   5:15
14. "Always on My Mind" (dub mix) Carson, Christopher, James 2:15


Pet Shop Boys

Guest musicians


  • Julian Mendelsohn – production on tracks A1, A3 to A5 and B2

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 16
Austrian Albums Chart[17] 5
Canadian Albums Chart[18] 16
Dutch Albums Chart[19] 5
German Albums Chart[20] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart[21] 7
Norwegian Albums Chart[22] 3
Swedish Albums Chart[23] 2
Swiss Albums Chart[24] 3
UK Albums Chart[25] 2
US Billboard 200 [26] 25


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[27] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[28] Platinum 100,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[29] Platinum 68 416[30]
Germany (BVMI)[31] Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[32] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[33] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[34] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[35] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[36] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide (IFPI) N/A 4,000,000[37]

*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). Interview with 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. Bauer Media Group (241). August 2006. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s | Feature | Slant Magazine". Slant. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Actually – Pet Shop Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Connie (20 September 1987). "Pet Shop Pop". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  12. ^ Hull, Tom (2004). "Pet Shop Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 630–31. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  13. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (29 December 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 232. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  17. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "RPM 100 Albums". RPM. archived at Library and Archives Canada (Volume 47, No. 7). 21 November 1987. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Charts-Surfer". 
  21. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  23. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  24. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  25. ^ "Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  26. ^ "Actually > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  27. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Pet Shop Boys in the field Interpret. Enter Actually in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  28. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Music Canada. 
  29. ^ "Pet Shop Boys" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Pet Shop Boys; 'Actually')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  32. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1988". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  33. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  34. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Pet Shop Boys; 'Actually')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  35. ^ "British album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Actually in the search field and then press Enter.
  36. ^ "American album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  37. ^ "25 Reasons To Love Pet Shop Boys' 'Actually'". NME. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2018. 

External links[edit]