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)
Songwriter(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Ed Cobb
Gloria Jones singles chronology
"My Bad Boy's Comin' Home" / "Tainted Love"
"Come Go with Me"
"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)

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. According to Nick Talevski, before Jones recorded the song, Cobb had offered it to the Standells, whom he managed and produced, but they rejected it.[5] The Standells themselves in their Facebook page deny a fact of offering from Cobb, as they weren’t signed to Cobb’s company Greengrass Productions until 1966, some two years after Jones recording.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8]

In 2014, NME ranked it number 305 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[9]

Soft Cell version (1981)

"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 7", 12"
Recorded 1981
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)
Songwriter(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Mike Thorne
Soft Cell singles chronology
"Tainted Love"
"Tainted Love"

English vocal-and-synth duo Soft Cell became aware of the song through its status as a UK "Northern Soul" hit,[12] 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.[13] 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."[14]

The band's record label[clarification needed] chose to release "Tainted Love" on July 7, 1981 as Soft Cell's second single (their first was "Memorabilia", which did not chart).[14] The Phonogram Records representatives implied that this single would be Soft Cell's final release on Some Bizzare if the single did not sell.[14] 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 of 1981 in the UK and has sold 1.35 million copies as of August 2017.[15]

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 Exotic Video Show featuring band members David Ball as a cricketer meeting Marc Almond in a toga on what seems to be Mount Olympus.[16]

A remixed version of the song was issued in 1991, seven years after Soft Cell's dissolution in 1984. The video for the remix, directed by Peter Christopherson, features a man pacing at night and dancing with starry apparitions, while Almond sings amongst the stars.[17] Christopherson's band Coil had covered "Tainted Love" in 1985, with a music video that included a cameo appearance by Almond.[18]

Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love" ranked number 5 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 1980s.[19] It was also heavily sampled on Rihanna's 2006 single "SOS" and the Veronicas's 2007 single "Hook Me Up".[20] In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's fourth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[21]

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Marilyn Manson version (2001)

"Tainted Love"
Marilyn manson tainted love.png
Single by Marilyn Manson
from the album Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack and The Golden Age of Grotesque
Released November 2001
Genre Electronic rock[44]
Length 3:20
Label Nothing/Interscope/Universal
Songwriter(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Marilyn Manson, Tim Sköld
Marilyn Manson singles chronology
"The Nobodies"
"Tainted Love"
"The Nobodies"
"Tainted Love"

American band Marilyn Manson covered "Tainted Love" with an arrangement based on Soft Cell's version, and released it in 2001 as a single from the Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack; the principal cast of the film (Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans and Jaime Pressly) appear in the accompanying music video. It was later included on the band's following album The Golden Age of Grotesque as a bonus track. The band's eponymous frontman states in the Kerrang! interview that he wasn't "really thinking about '80s nostalgia" during the recording, while realising it as a main concept behind the soundtrack.[45]

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.[46] The song topped the Portuguese chart.[47] It was nominated for the Kerrang! Award for Best Single in 2002.


Chart (2001–02) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[48] 2
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[49] 18
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[50] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[51] 11
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[52] 7
Denmark (Tracklisten)[53] 3
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[47] 3
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[54] 11
France (SNEP)[55] 25
Germany (Official German Charts)[56] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[28] 11
Italy (FIMI)[57] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[58] 44
Norway (VG-lista)[59] 7
Poland (Polish Singles Chart)[60] 20
Portugal (Billboard)[47] 1
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[61] 4
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[62] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[63] 11
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[64] 2
UK (Official Charts Company)[65] 5
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[66] 30
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[66] 33


  1. ^ Miller 2011, p. 119.
  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. ^ Talevski 2006, p. 90.
  6. ^ Standells (February 21, 2015). "The Standells rejected "Tainted Love"? Okay, let's clear this up once-and-for-all". Facebook. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 
  7. ^ Haslam 1999, p. 172, chapter 6.
  8. ^ Saint Cad (October 14, 2012). "10 More Famous Songs With Unknown Originals". Listverse.com. Listverse Ltd. Retrieved April 10, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Rocklist.net....NME The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.. 2014". NME. August 8, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2017. 
  10. ^ Tim Sendra. "Pop & Wave, Vol. 1 - Various Artists". AllMusic. All Media Network. 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. ^ William Ruhlmann. "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret - Soft Cell". AllMusic. All Media Network. 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. 
  12. ^ Davis 2012, September 1981. Soft Cell: Tainted Love.
  13. ^ Mike Thorne (March 1999). "Soft Cell: Tainted Love". The Stereo Society. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c Buskin, Richard (April 2012). "Classic Tracks: Tainted Love". Sound on Sound. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  15. ^ Copsey, Rob (August 31, 2017). "Official Charts Flashback 1981: Soft Cell - Tainted Love". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  16. ^ Irvin, Jim; McLear, Colin, eds. (2007). The Mojo Collection (4th ed.). Canongate Books. p. 464. ISBN 978-1-8476-7643-6. 
  17. ^ "WEEKEND | The bizarreness of Soft Cell's 'Tainted Love' videos". Yale Daily News. March 23, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  18. ^ Matt Keeley (August 14, 2016). "WATCH: The First Ever AIDS Charity Music Single was Incredibly Dark and Boldly Gay". Unicorn Booty. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Wood, Mikael (24 June 2008). "Review - The Veronicas' Hook Me Up". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ "Australian n°1 Hits - 80's". Worldcharts.co.uk. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
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  24. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soft Cell – Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  25. ^ "Top Singles — Volume 36, No. 3, February 27, 1982". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  26. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste". Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc (in French). InfoDisc.fr. June 24, 2013. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Soft Cell"
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Soft Cell – Tainted Love". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  28. ^ a b c "The Irish Charts — All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 25, 2013.  Only results when searching "Tainted love"
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Soft Cell — Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  33. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
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  39. ^ "Chartfile Top 100" Record Mirror 26 December 1981: 27
  40. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
  41. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  42. ^ Top Selling Singles of 1982 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart
  43. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  44. ^ "The Golden Age of Grotesque BBC review". BBC. Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  45. ^ Winwood, Ian (February 23, 2002). "Paranoia. Jail Sentences. September 11. And Kittens?" (transcription). Kerrang!. No. 892. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  46. ^ Tobias Zywietz. "Chart Log UK: M — My Vitriol". Dipl.-Bibl.(FH) Tobias Zywietz. Zobbel.de. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  47. ^ a b c Danyel Smith, ed. (May 18, 2002). "Hits of The World". Billboard. Vol. 114 no. 20. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 21, 2017.  cf. last week position for Portugal peak position
  48. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  49. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  50. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  51. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  52. ^ "Ultratop.be – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  53. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Tracklisten. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  54. ^ "Marilyn Manson: Tainted Love" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  55. ^ "Lescharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  56. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  57. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Top Digital Download. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  58. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  59. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". VG-lista. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  60. ^ "TAINTED LOVE — Marilyn Manson". Nowe Media, Polskie Radio. LP3.polskieradio.pl. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  61. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved NOvember 5, 2016.
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  63. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  64. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
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  66. ^ a b "Marilyn Manson awards at Allmusic". Allmusic. All Media Network. Archived from the original on February 14, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 


  • Bielefeldt, Christian & Pendzich, Mark (2011). "Spot checks of pop history: The cover recordings of 'Stand By Me' and 'Tainted Love'". Lied und populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture. 56: 97–111. JSTOR 23339032. 
  • Davis, Sharon (2012). "September 1981. Soft Cell: Tainted Love". 80s Chart-Toppers: Every Chart-Topper Tells a Story. Random House. ISBN 978-1-7805-7411-0. 
  • Haslam, Dave (1999). Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City. Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-1-8411-5145-8. 
  • Chuck Miller (2011). Tracy L. Schmidt, ed. Warman's American Records. Krause Publications. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4402-2821-6. 
  • Nick Talevski (2006). Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 90. ISBN 1-84609-091-1. Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
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
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