Tainted Love

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"Tainted Love"
Tainted Love - Gloria Jones.jpg
Single by Gloria Jones
A-side "My Bad Boy's Comin' Home"
Released May 1965
Format 7", 45 rpm
Recorded 1964
Genre Northern soul[1]
Label Champion (distributed by Vee-Jay)
Writer(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Ed Cobb
Gloria Jones singles chronology
"My Bad Boy's Comin' Home" / "Tainted Love"
"Come Go with Me"

"Tainted Love" is a song composed by Ed Cobb, formerly of American group the Four Preps, which was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964.[2] It attained worldwide fame after being covered by Soft Cell in 1981 and has since been covered by numerous groups and artists.[3]

Gloria Jones version (1965)[edit]

American artist Gloria Jones recorded the original version of "Tainted Love", which was written and produced by Ed Cobb. It was the B-side of her 1965 single "My Bad Boy's Comin' Home",[4] which was a commercial flop, failing to chart in either the US or the UK. Before Jones recorded the song, Cobb had offered it to the Standells, whom he managed and produced, but they rejected it.[5]

In 1973, British club DJ Richard Searling purchased a copy of the almost decade-old single while on a trip to the United States. The track's Motown-influenced sound (featuring a fast tempo, horns, electric rhythm guitar and female backing vocals) fit in perfectly with the music favoured by those involved in the UK's Northern Soul club scene of the early 1970s, and Searling popularised the song at the Northern Soul club Va Va’s in Bolton, and later, at Wigan Casino.[6]

Owing to the new-found underground popularity of the song, Jones re-recorded "Tainted Love" in 1976 and released it as a single, but it also failed to chart. This version was released on her album Vixen and was produced by her boyfriend Marc Bolan.[7]

In 2014, NME ranked it number 305 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[8]

Soft Cell version (1981)[edit]

"Tainted Love"
Single by Soft Cell
from the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
A-side "Tainted Love" / "Where Did Our Love Go"
B-side "Memorabilia" / "Tainted Dub"
Released July 7, 1981 (UK)
January 16, 1982 (US)
Format 12-inch single, 7-inch single
Recorded 1981
Genre Synthpop,[9] new wave[10]
Length 2:34 (album version)
2:41 (single version)
8:58 (extended dance version with "Where Did Our Love Go?" cover)
("30 extended version of "Where Did Our Love Go?" cover) (11:04)
Label Some Bizzare
Sire/Warner Bros. Records (US)
Writer(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Mike Thorne
Soft Cell singles chronology
"Tainted Love"

English vocal-and-synth duo Soft Cell became aware of the song through its status as a UK "Northern Soul" hit, and recorded a drastically different arrangement in 1981. The Soft Cell recording featured a slower tempo than Jones' version, and was in the key of G rather than the original C to match Marc Almond's lower voice. Synthesizers and rhythm machines replaced the original's guitars, bass, drums, and horns. Soft Cell's version was recorded in a day and a half with Almond's first vocal take being used on the record. Producer Mike Thorne commented that he was surprised by the choice as he had not been impressed by the 1976 version on hearing it, but was impressed by the new arrangement and Almond's sinister vocal: "You could smell the coke on that second, Northern Soul version, it was really so over-ramped and so frantic. It was good for the dance floor, but I didn't like the record...when Soft Cell performed the song I heard a very novel sound and a very nice voice, so off we went."[11]

The band's record label chose to release "Tainted Love" on July 7, 1981 as Soft Cell's second single (their first was "Memorabilia", which did not chart). The label implied that this single would be Soft Cell's final release if the single did not sell. The 12" single version (extended dance version) was a medley, transitioning to a cover of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go" halfway through the song. Buoyed by the then-dominant synthpop sound of the time and a memorable performance on Top of the Pops, "Tainted Love" rapidly reached number 1 on the UK singles chart. "Tainted Love" was the best-selling single in the UK for 1981 and sold 1.27 million copies as of November 2012.[12]

On the US chart dated January 16, 1982, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 90. It appeared to peak at number 64 and fell to number 100 on February 27. After spending a second week at number 100, it started climbing again. It took 19 weeks to crack the US Top 40. The song reached number 8 during the summer of 1982 and spent a then record-breaking 43 weeks on the Hot 100.

A video was recorded specially for Soft Cell's video album Non Stop Erotic Video featuring band members David Ball as a cricketer meeting Marc Almond in a toga on Mount Olympus.

Soft Cell issued a remixed version of the song in 1991. The video for the remix, directed by Peter Christopherson of Hipgnosis, features a man pacing at night and dancing with starry apparitions, while Almond sings amongst the stars. Christopherson's band Coil had covered "Tainted Love" in 1985, with a music video that included a cameo appearance by Almond.

Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love" ranked number 5 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 1980s.[13] It was also heavily sampled on Rihanna's 2006 single "SOS" and the Veronicas's 2007 single Hook Me Up.[14] In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's fourth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[15]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Marilyn Manson cover (2001)[edit]

"Tainted Love"
Marilyn manson tainted love.png
Single by Marilyn Manson
from the album Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack, The Golden Age of Grotesque
Released November 2001
Genre Electro-rock[37]
Length 3:20
Label Nothing/Interscope/Universal Records
Producer(s) Marilyn Manson, Tim Sköld
Marilyn Manson singles chronology
"The Nobodies"
"Tainted Love"

American artist Marilyn Manson covered "Tainted Love" with an arrangement based on Soft Cell's version, and released it as a single from the Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack. It was released in 2001. It was later included on the band's following album The Golden Age of Grotesque as a bonus track.

Released in the UK on March 23, 2002, it is the band's biggest hit in that country. The song entered the UK singles chart at number 6 the week before its official release date, as a result of substantial import sales. The song reached its peak position of number 5 the following week, and spent a total of 22 weeks in the Top 75.[38] The song topped the Portuguese chart.[39] It was nominated for the Kerrang! Award for Best Single in 2002.

Music video[edit]

The video for Marilyn Manson's cover shows Manson bringing several goth friends to a high school party. It features several characters from the film Not Another Teen Movie. It also features former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressley and Tim Sköld, who was not a member of Marilyn Manson's band at the time.


Chart (2001-02) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[40] 2
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[41] 18
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[42] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[43] 11
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[44] 7
Denmark (Tracklisten)[45] 3
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[39] 3
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[46] 11
France (SNEP)[47] 25
Germany (Official German Charts)[48] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 11
Italy (FIMI)[49] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[50] 44
Norway (VG-lista)[51] 7
Poland (Polish Singles Chart)[52] 20
Portugal (Billboard)[39] 1
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[53] 4
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[54] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[55] 11
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[56] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[57] 5
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[58] 30
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[58] 33


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  2. ^ "Tainted Love — Songlexikon". Songlexikon.de. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ Various Versions Of Tainted Love. YouTube. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Rob Finnis; Tony Rounce (2008). You Heard It Here First! (CD booklet). London: Ace Records Ltd. p. 2. CDCHD 1204. 
  5. ^ Nick Talevski (2006). Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 90. ISBN 1-84609-091-1. Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
  6. ^ Dave Haslam, Manchester, England, chapter 6, p.172
  7. ^ Saint Cad. "10 More Famous Songs With Unknown Originals". Listverse.com. Listverse Ltd. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rocklist.net....NME The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.. 2014". Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ William Ruhlmann. "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret review at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 24, 2013.  "the remake of Gloria Jones' "Tainted Love," which dominated dance clubs and eventually peaked in the pop Top Ten with its synth-pop sound and Almond's plaintive vocal in 1981-1982."
  10. ^ Tim Sendra. "Pop & Wave, Vol. 1 review at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 24, 2013.  "the collection has some of the biggest hits of the new wave era. Songs like "Cars" by Gary Numan, "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell (...) are the type of tunes that define the era."
  11. ^ Buskin, Richard. "Classic Tracks: Tainted Love". Sound on Sound. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ Ami Sedghi (November 4, 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian.co.uk. The Guardian. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ali, Rahsheeda (May 2, 2013). "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s | Music News + Gossip | VH1 Music — Page 97". Vh1.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ Wood, Mikael (24 June 2008). "Review - The Veronicas' Hook Me Up". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  15. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "Australian n°1 Hits - 80's". Worldcharts.co.uk. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
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  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Soft Cell – Tainted Love". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  22. ^ a b c "The Irish Charts — All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 25, 2013.  Only results when searching "Tainted love"
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  26. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (S)". Rock.co.za. John Samson. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
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  39. ^ a b c Danyel Smith (ed.). "Billboard 18 May 2002". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved September 15, 2012.  cf. last week position for Portugal peak position
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  41. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  44. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  46. ^ "Marilyn Manson: Tainted Love" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  49. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Top Digital Download. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  51. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". VG-lista. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  52. ^ "TAINTED LOVE — Marilyn Manson". Nowe Media, Polskie Radio. LP3.polskieradio.pl. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  53. ^ "Archive Chart: March 24, 2002". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved NOvember 5, 2016.
  54. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  55. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  56. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  57. ^ "30, 2002/ Archive Chart: March 30, 2002" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Japanese Boy" by Aneka
UK number-one single (Soft Cell version)
September 5, 1981 – September 18, 1981
Succeeded by
"Prince Charming" by Adam and the Ants
Preceded by
"Trouble" by Lindsey Buckingham
Australian Kent Music Report number-one single (Soft Cell version)
February 22, 1982 – March 8, 1982
Succeeded by
"Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band
Preceded by
"Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band
Canadian "RPM" Singles Chart number-one single (Soft Cell version)
February 27, 1982 – March 13, 1982
Succeeded by
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts