Pet Shop Boys

It's a Sin

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Song Review by Ned Raggett

Starting with a bombastic series of orchestral stabs fading into a dramatic yet soothing combination of organ, wordless choirs, and random samples, "It's a Sin" is the Pet Shop Boys at their most self-consciously theatrical and huge during their '80s days. Songs like "Left to My Own Devices" and "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" would find their own particular métier, but "It's a Sin" is strident and cutting through and through. Neil Tennant said in a later interview that the song was always "meant to be kind of big and funny and camp," and certainly the killer lead melody, swathed in huge amounts of echo and endless layers of keyboards, calls up a show tune gone crazily weird, disco's metadrama gone splashy and icy at the same time. With Chris Lowe's exquisite music running at full blast, Tennant's delivery is a wonder with his trademark thin, high vocals of the time carrying the tune effortlessly, putting on a true show. There's no questioning the cool outrage Tennant felt over his strict Catholic upbringing, though, which underpins the song. Samples from church services and Latin masses crop up throughout, even as Tennant sums up the hard balance of desire and guilt tormenting his character: "Father forgive me/I tried not to do it/Turned over a new leaf/Then tore right through it."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
It's a Sin 1987 Capitol
Actually 1987 EMI Music Distribution 4:59
Absolute Music, Vol. 3 1987
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:04
Discography: The Complete Singles Collection 1991 EMI Music Distribution 5:01
Now: 1987 [40 Tracks] 1993
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI
Now: 1987 [36 Tracks] 1998
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 5:00
No Image 1998 Capitol
Decades: Story of the 60's, 70's & 80's [EMI] 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:00
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 3 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Smash Hits: Reunion 2003
Various Artists
Virgin 5:00
PopArt [DVD] 2003 EMI Music Distribution
PopArt: The Hits 2003 Toshiba EMI 4:59
Now That's What I Call No. 1's 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:59
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Now That's What I Call Music: 25 Years 2008
Various Artists
EMI 4:59
Ultimate Pet Shop Boys 2010 EMI 5:00
12" Dance: 80s Pop 2016
Various Artists
The Other Side of the 80's [Rhino] 2016
Various Artists
Blinded by the Light [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2019
Original Soundtrack
Sony CMG / Sony Music 4:57
No Image
Various Artists
Milan 5:01
Eighties Mixtape
Various Artists
Rhino 5:00