PET SHOP BOYS – ‘Shopping’ (from the album Actually)
Actually is the keynote album for late-80s England: this kind of brittle, cynically commercial chartpop was, it turned out, the only way oppositional sentiment could survive above-ground (all the other entryists crowed about it and failed, the Pet Shop Boys just got in there and did it). And Actually is oppositional alright, educated and decent people looking out over a country sinking into hysteria and greed and trying to describe it. When Actually came out, ‘Shopping’ came in for plenty of mockery, its Casiotone ‘S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G’ chorus seen as an asinine reflecion of an era’s values. But check the verses: ‘I heard it in the House Of Commons / Everything’s for sale’. It’s a song about privatisation, plain and simple, conflating the Government’s sell-off of Britain’s ‘family silver’ with the rampant City salarymania into one neccessarily banal metaphor. And Actually is full of this stuff: humane, politicised, catchy as hell and with a headlock on the Number One spot. Hats off.