Rihanna’s 1st No. 1 Song Sampled ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell

Rihanna’s first chart-topping song Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” sampled one of the most famous one-hit wonders of the 1980s. During an interview, the vocalist behind that one-hit wonder discussed what he thought of Rihanna. He also revealed he didn’t always like his hit.

Rihanna wearing a purple outfit
Rihanna | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Rihanna included a famous retro song on her 2nd album

Rihanna’s first album, Music of the Sun, was a success. It included two popular singles: “Pon de Replay” and “If It’s Lovin’ that You Want.” These singles both drew influence from Caribbean music, reflecting Rihanna’s Barbadian heritage.

Rihanna’s second album, A Girl Like Me, included her first dance-pop single “SOS.” “SOS” doesn’t sound much like the “Rude Boy” singer’s subsequent work. In fact, it sounds mildly retro, possibly because it includes a synthesizer riff from a popular 1980s song.

“SOS” samples “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell. During an interview with The Guardian, Soft Cell’s Marc Almond revealed what he thought of Rihanna sampling “Tainted Love.” “Thank God for Rihanna sampling it in her song,” he said. “I really like Rihanna. I download her singles from iTunes, so I loved it.”

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What Soft Cell’s Marc Almond said about his band’s most famous song

Almond embracing “SOS” is notable since he hasn’t always liked “Tainted Love.” “I’ve had to learn to love Tainted Love,” he said. “There was a period in my life when I never wanted to sing it or play it again. That’s always a big mistake. People say, ‘Why do you want to disrespect our growing up? Why do you want to deny it?’ And they’re right.”

Almond revealed why he thinks he had to make peace with “Tainted Love.” “It’s like a theme tune, and you have to accept that people will want it until the day they die – and thank God they do, because it’s something that brings you down to earth,” he opined. “You can do all kinds of artistic, esoteric or theatrical projects, and then you can come back to earth and sing a few pop songs. You go on stage and sing ‘Tainted Love’ and everybody loves you and forgives you everything.”

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The way the world reacted to Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ and Rihanna’s ‘SOS’

“Tainted Love” became a sizeable hit in the 1980s. The track reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and lasted on the chart for 43 weeks. It remains Soft Cell’s only charting single in the United States. It outperformed its parent album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, which peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 41 weeks.

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Although it was popular, “Tainted Love” was not as successful as “SOS.” “SOS” topped the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 28 weeks. The song was Rihanna’s first No. 1 single in the U.S. Its parent album, A Girl Like Me, was popular as well. It peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and lasted on the chart for 35 weeks.

While Almond didn’t always like “Tainted Love,” its legacy lives on through its continued popularity and Rihanna’s decision to sample it.