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Years & Years drop powerful cover of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘It’s a Sin’ ahead of groundbreaking Olly Alexander AIDS drama

Josh Milton January 22, 2021
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It's a Sin Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander of Years & Years performs on stage during Electric Picnic Music Festival 2019. (Debbie Hickey/Getty)

Years & Years released a moving acoustic cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic “It’s a Sin” ahead of Friday’s (22 January) launch of the groundbreaking AIDS drama of the same name.

The British pop band’s Twitter account dropped a nearly 40-second-long teaser of the new track, trading in pop duo’s synths, grandiose bangs and NASA countdown samples of the original for a slower, soulful sound.

“To celebrate the launch of It’s a Sin tonight, we are excited to share our own version of the song ‘Its A Sin’ by the Pet Shop Boys. 

“A portion of the proceeds for this release will be donated to George House Trust. Hope u enjoy the song.”

George House Trust is, frontman and It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander tweeted, “an incredible charity that have been providing HIV support, advice and advocacy services to improve health outcomes since 1985.”

“Went in expecting poppers o’clock and left sobbing,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the cover. “Thanks, Olly, I love it.”

It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander reflects on his own sense of ‘shame’ around HIV in his youth

The new tune comes ahead of the long-awaited launch of Channel 4’s It’s A Sin, a breathtaking five-part drama that dives deep into the AIDS crisis that roiled Britain in the early 1980s.

Alexander, 30, will play closeted whipsmart teen Ritchie who swaps the sleepy small-town life of the Isle of Wight for London in the Russell T Davies show.

Reflecting on the role, Alexander told NME that growing up in the throes of Thatcher’s Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools, fuelled the relentless bullying – and internal struggle around his own sexuality – he faced growing up.

Olly Alexander biting his lip as a naked man holds him by the neck in It's a Sin
Olly Alexander in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin. (Channel 4)

“I remember being scared that if I had sex, I would get HIV,” he said. “That was something that was always in my mind; this anxiety that it could happen.

“There’s such a huge amount of shame that surrounds our sexuality, but the issue of what it means is something we’re still unpacking now. There’s still so much stigma.”

He continued: “I just knew it was connected to gay people and it would be used as the butt of jokes.

“There was an episode of Family Guy with a song and dance routine called ‘You’ve Got Aids’ and that was sung at school.

“And you know, I joined in. At the time, I didn’t understand the way it made me feel or my own sexuality. I was just afraid of going anywhere near that.”

It’s a Sin airs on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Related topics: AIDS, It's a Sin, Music, pet shop boys, russell t davies, Years & Years

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