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For a definition of the word "actually", see the Wiktionary entry actually.
Studio album by Pet Shop Boys
Released 7 September 1987 (1987-09-07)
Recorded 1986–1987 at Sarm West Studios, Advision Studios, London
Genre Synthpop, dance-pop, disco
Length 47:52
Label Parlophone (UK), EMI Manhattan (US and Canada)
Producer Pet Shop Boys, Stephen Hague, Julian Mendelesohn, Andy Richards, Shep Pettibone, David Jacob
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 pop duo Pet Shop Boys, released in 1987 by record labels Parlophone (UK) and EMI Manhattan (US and Canada).


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 major 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. Actually has sold over 4 million copies to date.[citation needed]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[2]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 9/10[5]
The Village Voice A−[6]

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."[6]

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".[1]


Actually is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[7]

In 2006 Q magazine placed the album at No. 22 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[8] In 2012 Slant listed the album at No. 88 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[9]

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 Britain under Margaret Thatcher, and has little to do with actual shopping. Tennant later remarked:

The Eighties were [sic] very concerned with buying and selling. However I couldn't think of anything particularly interesting to say about shopping so the words are about the government selling off nationalised industries. We were obviously against it. At the time it was oppressive in London – there were these flaming adverts saying "Tell Sid", the campaign for the government gas sell-off. When this album came out many people, including ourselves, took the whole album to be loosely about Thatcherism, because you have this song, about nationalised industries, you have poverty in "King's Cross", you have AIDS in "It Couldn't Happen Here". "Shopping" is also the other song ...[10][11]

Furthermore, despite Tennant voting for Labour in the 1987 election, he reflected in 2006 his hope that Thatcher would prevail regardless, so as not to "ruin" an album "about Thatcherism".[12][better source needed]

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 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) 6:47
7. "Heart" (disco mix) 8:40
8. "A New Life" 4:55
9. "Always on My Mind" (demo version) 4:03
10. "Rent" (seven-inch mix) 3:33
11. "I Want a Dog" 4:58
12. "Always on My Mind" (extended dance mix) 8:15
13. "Do I Have To?" 5:15
14. "Always on My Mind" (dub mix) 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)[13] 16
Austrian Albums Chart[14] 5
Canadian Albums Chart[15] 16
Dutch Albums Chart[16] 5
German Albums Chart[17] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart[18] 7
Norwegian Albums Chart[19] 3
Swedish Albums Chart[20] 2
Swiss Albums Chart[21] 3
UK Albums Chart[22] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 25


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Actually – Pet Shop Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Connie (20 September 1987). "Pet Shop Pop". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 630–31. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  5. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (29 December 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "40 Best Albums of the 1980s". Q. Bauer Media Group (241). August 2006. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s | Feature | Slant Magazine". Slant. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Mosler, Tomas. "Between the lines – Actually". Pet Shop Boys at dead of night. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "Explication". Pet Shop Boys Catalogue. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "RPM 100 Albums". RPM. archived at Library and Archives Canada (Volume 47, No. 7). 21 November 1987. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Charts-Surfer". 
  18. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  21. ^ "Pet Shop Boys – Actually" (in German). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Actually". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  23. ^ "Actually > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 September 2011.

External links[edit]