Song of the Day #386: ‘Tainted Love’ – Soft Cell

softcell20 Best Songs of the 80s – #16

Here’s an example of an 80s song that didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time of release (after all, I was only 9 in 1981 when it came out) but has muscled its way into my brain as a quintessential 80s song in the years since. ‘Tainted Love’ so typifies that 80s sound that, coming out as early as ’81, I suppose it really should be credited with creating that sound.

And that makes it all the more surprising that this is actually a cover of a 1964 song recorded by Gloria Jones. I had no idea this song wasn’t an original. Somehow that takes away from what Soft Cell accomplished. I mean, doesn’t that make them even less than a one-hit wonder? Sort of a half-hit wonder? I don’t know, maybe not. Here’s the Gloria Jones version if you’d like to compare.

I suppose if this whole 80s thing is about sound and production less than the actual structure of the songs then Soft Cell deserves full credit. While Jones’ version is close to Soft Cell’s in pace and melody there’s no confusing the decades each was recorded. And if you want to hear a song from the new millennium sampling ‘Tainted Love,’ check out Rihanna’s ‘S.O.S.’ Good lord, I could check that video out all day (and no, I don’t just like Rihanna for her looks!).

Speaking of videos, the Soft Cell one is rather odd, with half-invisible star people molesting a man in his bed. And is it my imagination, or were there far more obviously gay singers back then?

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
From the pain you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I’ve lost my light
For I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
Oh…tainted love
Tainted love

Now I know I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
You don’t really want anymore from me
To make things right
You need someone to hold you tight
And you think love is to pray
But I’m sorry I don’t pray that way

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
Oh…tainted love
Tainted love

Don’t touch me please
I cannot stand the way you tease
I love you though you hurt me so
Now I’m gonna pack my things and go
Tainted love, tainted love (x2)
Touch me baby, tainted love (x2)
Tainted love (x3)

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #386: ‘Tainted Love’ – Soft Cell

  1. Amy says:

    you’ve given me a chance to post an America Idol video :) And one of Danny Noriega, nonetheless. Daniel would be so pleased. The song only takes up a couple of minutes, but who doesn’t want one last chance to see Paula and Simon interact :(

    Anyway, it’s a great 80′s song that I, too, am shocked to learn wasn’t written in the 80′s. It should have been. And I don’t think there were more gay singers back then, just more artists who were fulfilling rigid stereotypes rather than simply being themselves (whatever that was – see Michael Stipe). Also, I suppose in the era of Reagan and AIDS (a word Reagan somehow failed to ever utter), there must have been a strong need to be flamboyant and in your face.

    Hope you enjoyed Danny :)

  2. Clay says:

    Speaking of gay singers… :-)

    I have to agree with Simon on this one.

  3. Dana says:

    This is another song aided by MTV, as I recall it being one of the first ones to be put in early rotation.

    I think the flamboyant gay singing probably started in the mid 70′s with Elton John leading the way with his crazy concert outfits, followed by the Village People. Soft Cell seems to me to be an extension of that. And, in some ways, the song itself evolves from the disco sound of the late 70′s, but clearly with an 80′s synth sensibility. I find it, however, as hard to take this song seriously as I did your first selection (Don’t You Want Me Baby).

  4. Clay says:

    But Frankie Goes to Hollywood is worthy of a Masters thesis. ;-)

  5. Dana says:

    well, I wouldn’t go THAT far!:)

  6. Amy says:

    This was the performance that sent Danny home :)

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