The playlist used in Channel 4’s hit new series, It’s A Sin, is full of hits that help tell the ups-and-downs of such an important story.
This article contains spoilers for It’s A Sin. You have been warned!
Channel 4’s new drama, It’s A Sin, is arguably the best new show of the year so far. Created by Russell T Davies (Years And Years, Queer As Folk), the series follows the lives of a group of gay men during the Aids crisis.
It’s heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measures, boldly telling a story that caused so much devastation during the 80s. On the one hand, it addresses the awful fact that the LGBTQ+ community was let down so much by misinformation and homophobia. But it also celebrates how they lived their best lives and formed amazing friendships in London.
The show has triggered many discussions on Twitter, but there is one thing in particular that we had to focus on here: that banging 80s soundtrack and how it helps tell the ups-and-downs of the times. From the poignant song the show takes its title from to the party tracks that make us miss big nights out, these are the best songs from It’s A Sin.
Enola Gay, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
The series opens with Ritchie clearing his bedroom of male porn magazines before moving to London. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s Enola Gay, a synthy, anti-war song about the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb, is playing the background. The powerful message might just signify the need for big change.
Feels Like I’m In Love, Kelly Marie
Kelly Marie’s disco classic, Feels Like I’m In Love, plays as Roscoe announces to his God-fearing family that he’s leaving for London. Dressed in a skirt and crop top, he tells them: “I’m going now, so thank you very much and if you need to forward any mail I’ll be staying at 23 Piss Off Avenue, London W Fuck. Thank you and goodbye.” It’s an iconic scene, worthy of an equally iconic tune that captures the fun and freedom ahead.
Small Town Boy, Bronski Beat
The first episode ends with Bronski Beat’s Small Town Boy, taken from the British band’s Age Of Consent Album, which became an anthem in the LGBTQ+ clubs. It’s the perfect way to end the show’s introduction to the gang of boys who have left their quiet lives at home to find their true selves in London.
Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division
“There’s nothing wrong with boys from London!” Ritchie tells a one night stand at home on the Isle of Wight. Joy Division’s depressing banger Love Will Tear Us Apart plays, signalling that trouble is ahead in the capital.
Do You Wanna Funk?, Patrick Cowley (featuring Sylvester)
Ritchie’s monologue about the misinformation that was spread about Aids is one of the most important scenes in the series. “Do you seriously think there is an illness that only kills gay men?” he asks. “It can calculate that you’re gay and kill you, but only if you’re gay and no one else? Hmm.”
He then goes off to dance to Patrick Cowley’s Do You Wanna Funk? – which is an ABSOLUTE TUNE that will get you dancing around your bedroom – because all he wants to do is enjoy his new life without judgment. “I don’t want to hear a word of it, now hit me with those lasers please,” he shouts.
Peanut Butter, Gwen Guthrie
Gwen Guthrie’s stripped-back disco track Peanut Butter subtly plays as Colin lands in New York for a work trip. With lyrics like “spread yourself over me like peanut butter”, the excitement and sexual liberation of the city is palpable.
Only You, The Flying Pickets
Ritchie and Jill’s on-stage duets become a regular delight throughout the series, and their acappella take on Yazoo’s hit Only You will have you singing along while swaying your hands in the air. It also celebrates the strong friendships and bonds that the group have made in the Pink Palace.
Gloria, Laura Branigan
Laura Branigan’s Gloria is of course the upbeat tune that makes you want to do an 80s aerobics class. But in this case, the song pays respect to the gang’s friend – Gregory ‘Gloria’ Finch – who dies secretly from Aids.
Wham!’s toe-tapping hit Freedom plays as Colin restarts his life with a new job and positive outlook. However, as the song fades out, we see Colin having a fit – his first obvious symptom of HIV.
Who Wants To Live Forever, Queen
In stark contrast, the episode ends with the heartbreaking Who Wants To Live Forever (performed by Queen’s Freddy Mercury, who died of Aids) as we say goodbye to Colin.
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, The Eurythmics
As the gang becomes more aware of Aids and starts to campaign about the government’s ignorance towards it, Ritchie begins to take things way more seriously and meticulously checks himself to symptoms every morning. The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These, a song about trying to make sense of our lives, plays while he does this.
It’s A Sin, Pet Shop Boys
We all knew this one was coming at some point. Ritchie puts Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin on the jukebox in a pub back home after finding out he has HIV. “Everything I’ve ever done, everything I ever do,” Neil Tennant sings, “every place I’ve ever been, everywhere I’m going to, it’s a sin.”
Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle
Ritchie jumping on a policeman who is attacking Jill is such a YES moment. In the back of the police van, he then tells his friends about his diagnosis. “I’ve got news for you all, I want you to be the first to know, I’m going to live,” he says. Cue: Belinda Carlisle’s uplifting vocals on Heaven Is A Place On Earth.
Running Up That Hill, Kate Bush
Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill – a song about making a deal with god to swap places with someone we love – plays as Jill helps to care for Ritchie, who is struggling as the HIV progresses.
Everybody Hurts, REM
A far cry from the disco and pop hits earlier in the series, REM’s devastating Everybody Hurts is perhaps the only way to mark Ritchie’s death. It also honours the many lives that Aids took during the crisis and the heartache that people had to continue living through after so much loss.
You can watch all five episodes of It’s A Sin on All 4 or catch it on at 9pm on Fridays on Channel 4.
Images: Channel 4
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…