The first book-length inquiry into the twisted romantic ballad, giving a sense of both its history and contemporary currency.
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 romantic ballad, giving a sense of both its history and contemporary currency. Sometimes extreme, this twist to the conventional romantic ballad spans across gender and generational boundaries to subvert our understanding of both the genre’s function and its behavior. Each chapter of Tainted Love takes a deep dive into a single twisted ballad, examining both its inner workings—lyrics, melody, and vocal approach—and its broader cultural resonance.
Featuring an analysis of songs by Kendrick Lamar, Nina Simone, Roxy Music, Joni Mitchell, The Velvet Underground, Frank Sinatra, Soft Cell, Paul McCartney, Charlotte & Serge Gainsbourg, PJ Harvey & Nick Cave, and Little Simz, this book turns on the question: What compels songwriters to compose—and us to listen to—these warped songs?