In Fiction: The last human, lady Cassandra, has brought along a vintage “ipod” to play to intergalactic delegates as the Earth implodes. It’s actually a 1950s Whirlitzer jukebox - hoho! – and the “classical music” she’s admiring is actually by American superharlot Britney Spears and ‘80s electropop rockers Soft Cell. Hohoho!
In Fact: Haven’t we heard this gag before…? Writer Russell T Davies specifically requested these songs in his script; although unusual choices for songs to reflect humanity's greatest hits, these were both international (and, evidentally, intergalactic) chart-toppers. Toxic made it to number one in 22 countries, whilst Tainted Love was Britain’s best-selling single of 1981.
The music was, of course, a challenge to Rose's first experience of time travel: could this really be the future, if music like this is around? Such familiarity, but frighteningly out of context, is an idea explored for the first time in the series; it certainly didn't freak Ian and Barbara out in The Chase to see The Beatles inside the TARDIS, or disturb Ace that, of all the times and place in the universe they could explore, the Doctor has taken them to watch Courtney Pine at a garden fete in Silver Nemesis! The tracks themselves have narrative relevance too; the lyric "i've got to run away," and the generally doubting tone of Tainted Love almost seem to bring Rose to her senses as she stands amongst aliens just minutes after leaving Mickey behind in 2005 London, whilst Toxic was clearly Russell T Davies' prompt to the production team to turn up the pressure on the action sequences with a thumping, pounding soundtrack!
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
Cuts: 1'15" is heard, 10 minutes into the episode, as Cassandra first demonstrates her “iPod”, giving the Doctor good reason to dance like your Dad.
Releases (select releases): originally recorded by Northern Soul diva Gloria Jones in 1964, Soft Cell’s electronic reinterpretation was released on 7” and 12” vinyl in July 1981 (Some Bizarre BZS 2), spending two weeks at number one, and again in July 1991 alongside new remixes (SOFT 2). The track featured on Soft Cell’s first album, ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ (Some Bizarre BZLP 2), released December 1981, and has since been released on many electronic and 1980s compilations.
Availability (select releases): readily available on assorted compilation albums and on the CD reissue of ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ (Mercury 5325952), released June 1996.
Toxic – Britney Spears
Cuts: 0'44" is heard, 28 minutes into the episode, as Earth-Death begins, with an edit made to remove three guitar riffs from the beginning of the track and cut straight to the vocals. The song then blends seamlessly into Murray Gold's incidental music, which underscores the sun-filter's descent onto Rose in the same key and with a very similar rhythm and sound.
Availability (select releases): still available on ‘In the Zone’ and Britney’s greatest hits compilation ‘My Prerogative’ (Jive 82876666162), released November 2004.