Even traditional rock bands were known to incorporate keyboards into their music, live performances, and music videos.
New wave bands, however, were totally tied to the synthesizer without exception. This sound was present in the majority of 80s songs. Soft Cell’s hit popsynth ditty, “Tainted Love,” completely embraced the new wave synth sounds that were raging across the culture.
The electronic sound of the synthesizer combined with the driving BIM-BIM, whip-cracking beat and love-takes-no-prisoners lyrics made “Tainted Love” an enormous success, perhaps the greatest one-hit wonder of the 80s – and the 80s were, like, totally packed with awesome one-hit wonders.
Composed by Ed Cobb and originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, “Tainted Love” found worldwide appeal when Soft Cell recorded it in 1981. Since then, it has been covered and sampled by countless groups and artists, including a Marilyn Manson version and a sample in Rhianna’s 2006 song “SOS.”
However, the song remains a testament to 80s music. It soared to the top of the UK charts and was soon released in the U.S., where, although it took 19 weeks to hit the top 40, it spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
The B-side of the single was another cover song, the Supremes’ Motown classic “Where Did Our Love Go?” There was also a popular remix of “Tainted Love,” which included a brief interlude of the B-side. Remixes were standard fare for 80s songs, and longer versions of new wave songs were totally popular in clubs.
80s Music Video: Tainted Love
There were several music videos created for “Tainted Love.” One featured Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and David Ball in an ancient Greek setting. Another shows Ball haunted by starry apparitions interspersed with images of Almond singing against a night-sky backdrop.
Check it out:
The song’s videos were not among the most memorable or heavily featured 80s songs on MTV. However, radio stations played the heck out of it, cementing it firmly among the pillars of 80s music.
80s Songs and One-Hit Wonders
Soft Cell was just one of many bands who lucked out when their 80s songs became worldwide phenomena. One-hit wonders were standard for 80s music, and while most musicians prefer a long, steady career, these fly-by hits catapulted songs like “Tainted Love” to fame and earned songwriters, producers, and performers a pretty penny.
Tainted Love remains one of the most important 80s songs. It helped define 80s music and its popularity continues through cover versions and sampling.
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