“What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by Pet Shop Boys (ft. Dusty Springfield)
The best way to describe the romance featured in this song, in which Neil Tennant and Dusty Springfield portray its participants, is as the lovers being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, they are in a relationship which, to be blunt, they make each other unhappy. The genesis of their discontent seems to be different motives in initiating the romance. While Neil was looking for something more materially gratifying, Dusty was looking for something more emotional. But as time progressed, they both indeed fell in love with each other. However, now that each other’s unhappiness is evident, they are asking what they have done to deserve being ensnared in a toxic relationship. Simply put, they feel that the emotional pain associated with their union is unfair given what they put into the relationship.
But eventually they do apparently break up. And it seems that this is a mutual decision, as they both understand that they cannot continue in this current manner. But now they are also suffering from the loneliness of not having their significant other around. So it is basically a situation where when they are together they are emotionally distraught, and when they are no longer together they still feel the same way, though for a different reason. In fact their breakup has them so distraught that they wonder if their hearts can actually survive it.
So this has them questioning, as if to karma herself, what have they done to be cursed with this suffering. They are both in love with a person who they can’t be with nor be without. In other words, the singers are in a real serious sentimental dilemma. And the track concludes with this issue being unresolved, as in the lovers expect to maintain this cursed feeling into the foreseeable future.
“What Have I Done to Deserve This?” is one of the Pet Shop Boys’ mega hits, peaking at number 2 on both America’s Hot 100 and Britain’s UK Singles Chart.
The song was also a number-one hit in Ireland as well as Israel. Furthermore it managed to break the top ten in these countries:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
Indeed this song was such a smash that it led to a well-documented revitalization of Dusty Springfield’s (1939-1999) career.
Collaboration with Dusty Springfield
Growing up, Neil Tennant idolized Springfield and her works.In fact Neil was deadset on using her in this song. Indeed “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” was not featured on the Boys’ first album (Please) because at the time they were unsuccessful in getting in contact with Springfield.
Moreover the Pet Shop Boys went on to write a few songs for Dusty Springfield’s subsequent album, entitled Reputation (1990).
Release Date of “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”
This collaboration eventually came out on 10 August 1987, as the second single from the Boys’ sophomore album, Actually. The first single from Actually was the global hit “It’s a Sin“.
Writing and Production of “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”
Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant (aka Pet Shop Boys) had assistance penning this particular song in the form of Allee Willis. Willis is the same songwriter who wrote the famed theme song for the hit 1990’s sitcom Friends.
And “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” was produced by renowned record producer Stephen Hague. In addition to this song, Hague worked on a number of classic hits from the Pet Shop Boys.