Tainted Love - From Nina Simone to Kendrick Lamar

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Titled after Soft Cell's version of the original 1965 Gloria Jones track, Tainted Love is the first book-length inquiry into the subject of the ‘twisted’ or ‘tainted’ romantic ballad, it’s history and contemporary currency.

These perfectly formed iconic and emotional songs set themselves apart from more regular, needy and devotional love songs, spinning out into more unusual realms, catching artists and singers at their creative peak.

Each chapter of Tainted Love takes a deep dive into a single ‘twisted’ ballad, examining both its inner workings, lyrics, melody, vocal approach and its broader cultural resonance.

Featuring an analysis of songs by Kendrick Lamar, Nina Simone, Roxy Music, Joni Mitchell, TheVelvet Underground, Frank Sinatra, Soft Cell, Paul McCartney, Charlotte & Serge Gainsbourg, PJHarvey & Nick Cave, and Little Simz, this book turns on the question: What compels songwriters to compose, and us to listen to, these awkward, broken and arrestingly beautiful warped songs?