“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
The Story Of The Song: In this eternally hip and hypnotic New Wave jam, a moody male voice sings about a horrible relationship that he’s struggling to break free from.
The Story Behind the Song: “Tainted Love” was never the story of a New Wave break up, but the work of a 1960s singer-songwriter named Ed Cobb. Cobb was a member of a quartet called The Four Preps that gained some small success in the early college folk scene, but lost their edge when folk went political. We don’t know if a specific woman (or man) inspired “Tainted Love,” but the song was meant to be another garage rock song (like Cobb’s other most famous hit, “Dirty Water”) for The Standells, who turned it down. Soul singer Gloria Jones recorded the song and it became an enduring soul hit in the UK.
Fast forward to the New Wave era… British band Soft Cell was familiar with the song and decided to cover it (along with the Supreme‘s “Where Did Our Love Go?”). The Soft Cell version became one of the most universally known break up songs of all time.