"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.[1] It attained worldwide fame after being covered by Soft Cell in 1981 and has since been covered by numerous groups and artists.[2]


 [hide*1 Gloria Jones version (1965)

Gloria Jones version (1965)[edit]Edit

"My Bad Boy's Comin' Home"
Single by Gloria Jones
B-side "Tainted Love"
Released May 1965
Format 7", 45 rpm
Recorded 1964
Genre Northern soul[3]
Label Champion(distributed by Vee-Jay)
Writer(s) Ed Cobb
Producer(s) Ed Cobb
Gloria Jones singles chronology
"My Bad Boy's Comin' Home"


"Come Go With Me"


American artist Gloria Jones recorded the original version of "Tainted Love", which was written and produced by Ed Cobb. It was the B-side to the 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, which he managed and produced, but they rejected it.[5]

However, 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]

Due to the newfound underground popularity of the song, Jones re-recorded "Tainted Love" in 1976[7] and released it as a single, but this version also failed to chart.

Soft Cell version (1981)[edit]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 single7-inch single
Recorded 1981
Genre Synthpop,[8]new wave[9]
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
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. Produced by Mike Thorne, the Soft Cell track 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.

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" half-way 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 #1 on the UK singles chart. "Tainted Love" was the best-selling single in the UK for 1981, and it has sold 1.27 million copies as of November 2012.[10]

On the US chart dated January 16, 1982, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #90. It appeared to peak at #64 and fell to #100 on February 27. After spending a second week at #100, it started climbing again. It took 19 weeks to crack the US Top 40. The song reached #8 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 and features a cricketer meeting band members Marc Almond and David Ball in togas 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 #5 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 1980s .[11]

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1981-1982) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 1
Canada (RPM 50 Singles)[15] 1
France (SNEP)[16] 4
Germany (Media Control AG)[17] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[18] 4
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[19] 5
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[20] 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[21] 2
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[22] 1
Spain (AFYVE)[23] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[24] 4
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[25] 2
UK (Official Charts Company)[26] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[27] 8
US BillboardHot Dance Club Play[27] 4
US BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks[27] 12
Chart (1985) Peak


UK (Official Charts Company)[26] 43
Chart (1991) Peak


Ireland (IRMA)[18] 4
UK (Official Charts Company)[26] 5
Chart (1999) Peak


US BillboardHot Dance Club Play[27] 24
US BillboardHot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[27] 6

Marilyn Manson cover (2001)[edit]Edit

"Tainted Love"
Single by Marilyn Manson
from the album Not Another Teen Movie soundtrackThe Golden Age of Grotesque
Released November 2001
Genre Industrial metalelectro-industrial
Length 3:20
Label Interscope/Nothing
Producer(s) Marilyn MansonTim Sköld
Marilyn Manson singles chronology
"The Nobodies"


"Tainted Love"




American artist Marilyn Manson covered "Tainted Love" 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 #6 the week before its official release date, as a result of substantial import sales. The song reached its peak position of #5 the following week, and spent a total of 22 weeks in the Top 75.[28] The song topped the Portuguese chart.[29] It was nominated for the Kerrang! Award for Best Single in 2002.

Music video[edit]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 featuresJoey Jordison, the drummer from Slipknot, and Tim Skold, who was not a member of Marilyn Manson's band at the time.


Chart (2001-2002) Peak


Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[30] 2
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[31] 18
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[32] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[33] 11
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[34] 7
Denmark (Tracklisten)[35] 3
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[29] 3
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[36] 11
France (SNEP)[37] 25
Germany (Media Control AG)[38] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[18] 11
Italy (FIMI)[39] 2
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[40] 44
Norway (VG-lista)[41] 7
Poland (Polish Singles Chart)[42] 20
Portugal (Billboard)[29] 1
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[43] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[44] 11
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[45] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[46] 5
US BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks[27] 30
US BillboardModern Rock Tracks[27] 33
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