Pet Shop Boys are a British electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboards and occasionally guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards and occasionally on vocals. Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide. Since 1986, they have had 39 Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK, including four Number Ones: "West End Girls," "It's a Sin," "Always on My Mind," and "Heart." The duo's latest album, entitled Yes, will be released on 23 March 2009

The dynamic of Pet Shop Boys' image lies in the duo's public personalities Tennant is perceived as an erudite intellectual, articulate, and verbose in speech; while Lowe, now almost always seen in his trademark attire of hat and sunglasses (since as early as 1985), appears as guarded and terse, but nevertheless behaves as casual, flippant and fun-loving. They have maintained a consistent pattern for interviews, in which Tennant is the primary speaker, answering questions at length, while occasionally being interrupted by brief, generally humorous interjections from Lowe (which is comparable to the concept of a comedic double act).

They have also been seen as wilfully contrary, defying expectations of record labels and the music industry in terms of commercial image, self-promotion, and the nature of their own music. In their early years, Pet Shop Boys seemed to be mostly defined by the things they refused to do. A 1986 quotation by Lowe, taken from an Entertainment Tonight clip, and subsequently sampled in their own song "Paninaro," is often cited as the prime example of this:


"I don't like country and western. I don't like rock music, I don't like rockabilly or rock and roll particularly. I don't like much, really, do I? But what I do like, I love passionately."

This also formed the foundation of the band's early reputation as being anti-rock music, and more properly aligned with disco and dance music culture. (See, e.g., their appropriately titled 1997 B-side, "How I Learned to Hate Rock and Roll," and their then new 1991 song "DJ Culture," from the Discography compilation.) Eventually, however, these differences were reconciled a process that symbolically culminated with Pet Shop Boys' performance at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival, which was the surprise highlight of the three-day event. Tennant expressed his gratitude to the crowd by thanking them for "being kind to us," and that they were "Glastonbury virgins."

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in an electronics shop on Kings Road in Chelsea, London. Recognising a mutual interest in dance music, they began to work on material together, first in Tennant's flat in Chelsea, and, from 1982, in a small studio, in Camden Town. It was during these early years that several songs that would later appear on future albums were created, including "It's a Sin," "West End Girls," "Rent," and "Jealousy."

Starting out, the two called themselves West End, because of their love of London's West End, but later they came up with the name Pet Shop Boys, which derived from some friends who worked in a pet shop, in Ealing. They said that the new name "sounded like an English rap group."

It's a Sin

"It's a Sin" is a song recorded by the Pet Shop Boys which reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in June 1987.


Written by Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant, "It's a Sin" was the lead single from the duo's second "proper" album, Actually. Released in June 1987, it rocketed to the top of the charts to become the duo's second UK number one single. It was also a massive hit across Europe, supposedly the best-selling European single of 1987. In the United States it reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the duo's third Top 10 hit there. A demo of the track was first cut in 1984 with Bobby O, and the song's form in the demo remained intact to the final version, although the released production is far more dramatic.

The song is an implicit rejection of Tennant's Catholic upbringing and education at St Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle upon Tyne, where Tennant claims to have been the victim of homophobic bullying. It is also a subtle indication of his homosexuality (Tennant did not come out until 1994), the song uses extensive samples from Latin masses (specifically, Tennant reciting a part of the Confiteor, and other sounds recorded at locations such as Westminster Cathedral) and religious imagery throughout to reinforce the feel of the song. Tennant has said that he wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes, purging his emotions in a moment of frustration and anger.

The Latin passage near the end translates as, "I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, act, and omission, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault".

The dramatic, overblown production style of the song, loaded with synthesizers, orchestra hits and bookended by a non sequitur sample of a NASA countdown, has come to exemplify the most theatrical extremes of the Pet Shop Boys' musical style. To date, it remains a concert staple, being only one of two songs (alongside "West End Girls") that has been played during every Pet Shop Boys tour.


Directed by Derek Jarman, the "It's a Sin" video marked the experimental director's first of several collaborations with the band. It extended the lyrical themes of the song by showing Tennant under arrest by an inquisition with Lowe as his jailer and Ron Moody in the role of his judge, interspersed with brief clips of personifications of the seven deadly sins (with Geena Davis as the personification of Pride).