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Tainted Love.jpg

Initially dashed off as a foot stomping soul song in 1964, and later to become a northern soul classic, Gloria Jones’ version of ‘Tainted Love’ has long since been eclipsed by the Soft Cell version which slowed down the basic tempo and upped the longing while simultaneously making the song more sinister in tone.

This changing and blurring of meanings as the song is passed from performer to performer and re-interpreted is part of the attraction of the song, and it’s interesting that while Jones sounds angry on her version, Marc Almond sounds vulnerable. Later versions of the song have largely drained the song of any emotion at all, yet the song has been widely covered.

It’s fair to say that both the later Marilyn Manson and My Ruin metal/goth/industrial takes on the song owe more to Marc Almond and the synthy sound of 1980s Leeds than they do to 1960s soul, but both are ultimately bloodless so far as any emotional content goes.

More recently, Imelda May has performed the song, and has injected a certain amount of spirit back into the track, taking it closer to its roots than ‘Tainted Love’ has been for a long time. The same cannot be said of the frankly mind boggling Pussycat Dolls version, which should never have made it out of the studio…

Picture of Tainted Love soap packaging taken by sea turtle and used via a flickr creative commons licence. The image shows a 1950s coiffed blonde woman. The writing over the pictures says ‘Mistakes were made’. Below this, on a light purple background, are the words Tainted Love and some details about the product, which turns out to be vegetarian soap

Video commentary: The youtube clip made to accompany this video is a cunningly subversive homage to things the (I think) US public used to love (money, smoking, drugs, nuclear power, oil…) that have since become ‘tainted’. Oil spills and the like feature as a contrast…