“Tainted Love”: from Synth to Screamo

I know the song “Tainted Love” because I am weirdly obsessed with 80’s music and Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” from 1981 is one of the classics. So classic in fact, that I only just learned that it was first recorded in 1964 by Gloria Jones and is not a Soft Cell original. Although, the versions are oddly similar considering the changes in music between those decades.

Unfortunately for Miss Jones, her version was critical flop. Of course, Soft Cell added the quintessential 80’s instrumentation and hella high falsetto backing vocals, but the base sounds of the song remained the same, despite the change in keys and the swap from real instruments to machines. This is quite the compliment to songwriter Ed Cobb, for his song seamlessly transitions from genre to genre.

For further proof of this genre jumping, look no further than Marilyn Manson’s cover of the song. His cover was released in 2001 for the soundtrack of Not Another Teen Movie. Predictably a bit different than the previous versions, Manson takes a decidedly more rock take on the song, with heavier drums and electric guitar. The bridge even turns the song briefly into a screamo track—a genre of music I normally hate—that somehow works really well.

Needless to say, Soft Cell’s version is still my favorite. I apparently have a soft spot in my heart for trippy music videos featuring floating heads in space and Tinkerbell-esque orbs causing trouble. Maybe this says something about my psyche, but let’s not think about that too much.