123. Pet Shop Boys – ‘Jealousy’ (1990)

“I lie alone
The clock strikes three
And anyone who wanted to
Could contact me”

Taken from the album Behaviour

Also released on Discography: The Singles Collection, Pop Art: The Hits and Concrete

UK #12

After ‘Jealousy’, there are four Pet Shop Boys songs left on this list. All of them are to do with loneliness and isolation in some way, but this is more melancholy and sad than all of them. ‘Jealousy’ is the diary of a sad soul, a desperate mind that has attached itself to someone else, that clingy, annoying jerk who just wants you to love him. Oh, how I was that jerk once upon a time. I probably still would be if I hadn’t retreated from human contact and pledged the rest of my life to writing about songs on an endless countdown (part of that may be untrue – I do go out sometimes for milk).

‘Jealousy’ sets itself up as a dramatic torch song, with epic flourishes and a buildup towards the end worthy of the similar climax of ‘It’s A Sin’. “Where have you been? Who have you seen? You didn’t phone when you said you would”, the narrator nags at the object of their affection. The narrator is no angel himself, though – I’ve always taken the lines above about being contacted to mean that he is waiting for anyone at all to call up for a rendezvous, meaning the jealousy is not only over his partner but also the fact that the partner has somewhere else to go when his quest for alternative companionship comes up with nothing.

The fourth top twenty single from the gorgeous Behaviour, ‘Jealousy’ is one of the more underrated Pet Shop Boys ballads. It was sung by Robbie Williams on the live album Concrete, and he gives it a stronger, more masculine tone while the orchestral backing gives the climax an extra touch of drama. The definitive version will always be the original of course, as Neil’s vulnerability¬†is key to the song’s success.


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