The follow-up to "Tainted Love
" (originally recorded by Gloria Jones), "Bedsitter" was Soft Cell's first self-written song to hit the UK charts. It finds Marc Almond singing of spending Sunday alone and bored in his bedsit (the British equivalent of a studio apartment). As Almond kills time until his next night out clubbing he indulges in comfort eating ("Think it's time to cook a meal.. fill the emptiness I feel") and writes a letter ("Mother things are getting better!"). In despair, he concludes that his Saturday nights out are overrated ("Start the night life over again and kid myself I'm having fun").
Soft Cell instrumentalist Dave Ball told Mojo magazine the song was totally autobiographical. "Marc and I were both living in a housing association building in a rough part of inner-city Leeds," he recalled. "Marc had the room right next to mine. We'd pass cassettes to each other across the corridor, music and lyrics. He had a job in the bar at Leeds Playhouse in the day and a cloakroom attendant at the Warehouse in the evening. Then we'd go clubbing at night with our mates and come back to these horrible rooms."
Soft Cell recorded the song for their debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. The record's theme of the glitter and grime of urban life is one that has long fascinated Marc Almond. "I've always loved the idea of glamor in squalor – filth and squalor and sleaziness and seediness – there's always something really glamorous and sort of really sparkling," he told Face magazine.
While seedy sex is the major theme that runs through Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, Ball and Almond's early years in the suburbs before meeting at Leeds Polytechnic also influenced the record. The opening song, "Frustration," is a portrayal of humdrum suburban existence, and this brooding track is what happened when they left their mundane hometowns behind.
Soft Cell had a limited budget when they created Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Dave Ball principally recorded the instrumentation with a ReVox tape recorder, a Roland drum machine borrowed from Kit Hain of Marshall Hain, a Korg SB-100 Synthetic Bass, and an NED Synclavier belonging to producer Mike Thorne. "The Duane Eddy twang on 'Bedsitter' is a Kong SB-100 Synthetic Bass," he told Mojo. "It had this function - the 'bender' - that altered the pitch and gave you that sound. And the bass sounds had a dirty, moody markings I loved."