Oh, you know the drill by now. We’re writing about the 10 best Pet Shop Boys songs of all time (our A sides) and the next 10 best (our B sides). It’s all in honour of their current single “Winner” which – ironically – isn’t really a winner at all. But these songs really are… For introduction and general love letter to the band click here.
A Side – What Have I Done To Deserve This?
We’ve referred before to the vicious battles that have gone on at PopLifer over this top ten, but here’s one that we were in complete agreement on: “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” is an absolute PSB masterpiece. It’s odd to think about this 25 years later, but in 1987 there was every reason to suspect the PSBs might turn out be a flash in the pan. Their debut, “Please”, had been a patchy affair, and although they had a very distinctive take on electropop, it was easy to imagine the zeitgeist moving on with a small shrug. But then came “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”, in which the band revealed and fulfilled their ambitions for true pop greatness. The jabbing synth hook and deadpan Tennant vocal would have been more than enough to make it a great song, but it was enlisting Dusty Springfield which proved the stroke of genius. They resurrected the 60s legend’s career and she rewarded them with a primal scream of monumental proportions, topping off a a perfect, spiky duet charting an unhealthy relationship dynamic. Key lyric: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
B Side – It’s A Sin
Look, we know it’s a great song. We know that for many people it’s the definitive Pet Shop Boys song. We know how clever the lyric is, how thrillingly over-the-top the production is. We know that the chorus is an unstoppable pop juggernaut and that the tune is so catchy it could enslave small nations*. We even know that there’s no other song quite like it in all pop, so brazenly melodramatic and so cleverly camp in the Susan Sontag sense. Maybe we will look back upon this forever with a sense of shame. But what can we say? We just don’t love it as much as the others. We’re sorry. Key lyric: “At school they taught me how to be/ So pure in thought and word and deed/ They didn’t quite succeed.”
* In fact, it did, reaching number 1 in Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Ireland etc