Blue Monday

Album: Power, Corruption And Lies (1983)
Charted: 3 68
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  • Lyrics
  • This song is believed to be about either drug addiction, child abuse or a failed relationship. The line, "How does it feel? To treat me like you do," could refer to either the drugs or a partner.

    The lyric was written by the group's guitarist/lead singer Bernard Sumner, who copped to being (along with the rest of the band) under the influence of LSD while making the song.

    When we asked New Order's bass player Peter Hook for some insight, he said: "I don't think there is a great deal to tell behind the lyrics if I am going to be brutally honest! It was just one of those things where Barney just went for it and the rest was history."
  • This is the best-selling 12-inch single of all time in Britain, a fact pointed out in the movie 24 Hour Party people, which chronicles the rise of their label, Factory Records. It is also one of the longest charting singles ever, at 7:25. The single wasn't issued as a traditional 7 inch until 1988, which helped boost sales of the 12 inch.
  • The title is not mentioned in the lyrics, which is true of many New Order songs. The band took the song's name from an illustration in the Kurt Vonnegut book Breakfast Of Champions, which Stephen Morris was reading. One of its illustrations read: "Goodbye Blue Monday," referring to the invention of the washing machine improving housewives' lives.
  • New Order came up with the rhythm when they were experimenting with a new Oberheim DMX drum machine they had purchased. In the Guardian newspaper of February 24, 2006, Peter Hook explained: "Bernard [Sumner] and Stephen [Morris] were the instigators. It was their enthusiasm for new technology. The drum pattern was ripped off from a Donna Summer B-side. We'd finished the drum pattern and we were really happy, then Steve accidentally kicked out the drum machine lead so we had to start from scratch and it was never as good. The technology was forever breaking down and the studio was really archaic. Kraftwerk booked it after us because they wanted to emulate 'Blue Monday.' They gave up after four or five days. It was a collection of soundbites - it sort of grew and grew. When we got to the end I went in and jammed the bass; I stole a riff from Ennio Morricone. Bernard went in and jammed the vocals. They're not about Ian Curtis; we wanted it to be vague. I was reading about Fats Domino. He had a song called Blue Monday and it was a Monday and we were all miserable so I thought, 'Oh that's quite apt.'"
  • Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert told The Guardian in a February 2013 interview how the song was made possible, in part, by er, flatulence. "The synthesizer melody is slightly out of sync with the rhythm," she explained. "This was an accident. It was my job to program the entire song from beginning to end, which had to be done manually, by inputting every note. I had the sequence all written down on loads of A4 paper Sellotaped together the length of the recording studio, like a huge knitting pattern. But I accidentally left a note out, which skewed the melody. We'd bought ourselves an Emulator 1, an early sampler, and used it to add snatches of choir-like voices from Kraftwerk's album Radioactivity, as well as recordings of thunder. Bernard and Stephen had worked out how to use it by spending hours recording farts."
  • This is one of the most influential electronica songs. Synthpop was already a major force in British popular music, but this was arguably the first British dance record to crossover to the New York club scene.
  • In 1988, Quincy Jones and John Potoker remixed the song and released it under the title "Blue Monday 88" (with the instrumental B-Side "Beach Buggy"); the group was signed to Jones' label, Qwest Records. The remix climbed to #3 in the British charts thanks mainly to the record-breaking sales of the 7" version.

    In 1995, another remix, this time by the German duo Hardfloor, was released, taking the song to #17 UK.
  • The sleeve for the single does not display either the group name or song title in plain English anywhere. Instead, the legend "FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER" is represented in code by a series of colored blocks. The key enabling this to be deciphered was printed on the back sleeve of the album Power, Corruption And Lies.
  • In Q Magazine's 1001 Best Songs Ever issue, Peter Hook said, "I go through stages of intense dislike for 'Blue Monday,' which I'm sure every group does when they get one song they're synonymous with, but the way it keeps getting reinvented is wonderful. It seems to be one of those tracks that's timeless, which is amazing. We were using technology which could have dated like other '80s stuff, but somehow we managed to swerve it. Was that deliberate? No, everything we do is by accident. The fact that for two years no one spotted that the sleeves cost more to make than the records confirms this. I honestly thought 'Thieves Like Us,' the single after 'Blue Monday,' was far superior. 'Blue Monday''s not a song, it's a feeling, but once people hear that drum riff they're off. People used to go mad when we didn't play it. We had a fight onstage with a DJ in Nottingham once because we wouldn't play it - which was a very New Order thing to do. As You get older and mellower you appreciate what got you where you are. We play it now because people love it."
  • New Order notoriously insisted on performing this song live on BBC's Top of the Pops at a time when the music show's policy was that artists would mime to a backing track. However, their performance was dogged by technical problems and it came close to a farce. Peter Hook recalled to Mojo magazine November 2008: "We thought that was funny: It was anarchy; Saying that, one of the highlights of my life was being on Top of the Pops. It was the only time when people like my mother and relatives, that didn't have anything to do with us, thought that we'd made it."
  • The rock band Orgy covered the song in 1998, taking it to #56 US. Other acts to cover it include Radio Star, Doctor Explosion, Swan Lee, Flunk, Klutae, Nouvelle Vague and Cosmosis. A version by the group Health was used in the 2017 movie Atomic Blonde.
  • American Express used this in advertisements in the 1990s. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kian - Dublin, Ireland
  • "Blue Monday" has been used in the following movies:

    Ready Player One (2018)
    Behaving Badly (2014)
    Quixote's Island (2011)
    The History Boys (2006)
    Walking Tall (2004)
    Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
    The Wedding Singer (1998)

    And in these TV series:

    Riverdale ("Chapter Eleven: To Riverdale and Back Again" - 2017)
    American Horror Story ("She Wants Revenge" - (2015)
    Gossip Girl ("Valley Girls" - 2009)
    Charmed ("She's a Man, Baby, a Man!" - 1999)
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Comments: 21

  • Bunhyung from Poland, MeI gotta agree with Peter Hook, Thieves like us is a much better song, IMHO.
  • Scott from Baton Rouge, LaThis is definitely one of New Order's more popular songs,but not their absolute best in my opinion. By the way,does anyone here know any song facts about "Ceremony",one of my fav New Order songs?
  • Daniel from Rio De Janeiro, BrazilAnother theory: "blue monday" as in a depressed mood after a weekend of taking drugs at wild parties in Manchester?
    I know *I* use this expression somewhat often :) sometimes it gets to be Blue Tuesday too, depending on how wild the weekend was.
  • Alfred from Jersey City, NjFrom Wikipedia: Their name is taken from the WWII historical novel ?The House of Dolls,? wherin author Yehiel De-Nur described "Joy Divisions"--separate units within concentration camps where Jewish women were housed for sexual slavery.
  • Blake from Placentia, CaGreat band. 24 hour party people, the movie about them and a few other bands, is my favorite movie now.
  • Devin from Chicago, IlDoes anyone know what Peter is saying at the beginning of the song? It is a low, synthesized, almost evil voice saying something and ending with a laugh as the song's bass line begins. This was the first New Order song I heard in high school in the 80's, since I have collected every bit of music New Order has delivered. They are truly phenomenal artists.
  • Matt from Pinetown, South AfricaProbably the best song ever, that only contains 4 keyboard notes.
  • Matt from Pinetown, South AfricaNew Order were inspired by Kraftwerk. Later, Kraftwerk's ex-member Karl Bartos released an album called Communication. The release from there, "15 Minutes Of Fame" is EXTREMELY similar. How ironic!
  • Martin from Groningen, NetherlandsRolling Stone 15/9/83
    Interview by Debby Miller

    New Order: life after death

    May 19th, 1980, was no ordinary Monday for the members of Joy Division. Bags were packed and goodbyes had been said. They were ready to leave
    for America, on their first rock & roll tour abroad. They had finished a new single, its title etched across a gravestone on the sleeve: LOVE WILL TEAR US APART.
    But Joy Division - such a weird name for a group known for gloomy music and the forlorn voice of its singer - never left England that blue Monday.

    There was something about the promise of the trip that made lead singer Ian Curtis put a noose around his neck and hang himself the evening before. More goodbyes.
  • Kira from Edmonton, CanadaOrgy did a pretty good remake of this song, making it faster and more modern. The song title is unusual since it is not mentioned in the song lyrics at all.
  • T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsGreat song! Surely the 12" version! Great synths!
    To me, it's always been the discription of a blue monday from a boy (His girl has left him and he feels blue on monday) and so on het tells his feelings about how his girl treated him and so on.
    But now that I see it's a about the self-hanging of Ian Curtis, I'll listen to it a bit better.
    Question is then: Why would you make a very boppy song around such a sad subject? :S
  • Nelson from Melbourne, AustraliaIn the same year, producer Bobby Orlando pinched the music from Blue Monday to create "Love Reaction" which was performed by Divine, Glenn Milstead who was a drag queen.
  • Tom from Newark, DeThe song is indeed about Ian Curtis. This was written about discovering that he had killed himself - he hung himself Sunday night, the band found out the next day
  • Elson from Los Angeles, CaThe original 12" single for the song was meant to look like a large floppy disk.

    I always though the "...shall obey" line was "shallow bay," especially after he mentions a "harbor" in the previous line. Nice play on words.
  • John from Levittown, NyI agree with Gener, it seems to be in part about Ian Curtis. I always found it odd that Sumner did the little Curtis sounding part, but in context, I guess it makes sense.
  • Clare from Hmilton, CanadaThis song was used in a 2005 Mars Bar advertisement
  • Rock from Mke, Wi"The Beach" was a popular nightclub in Manchester at the time of this songs' writing.
  • Anthony from Tokyo, JapanI always assumed this was describing a mans feelings as he ponders the death of another man he had just killed in war. 'I see a ship in the Harbour, I can & shall obey' is a reference to a warship which he is ordered to fire at. If he doesn't/didn't, he would be killed by that ship hence 'If it wasn't for your misfortune, I'd be a heavenly person today'. Yet this killing causes him to ask his conscience 'How should I feel?' as well as question what its like to die 'Tell me how does it feel, when your heart grows cold?' It could be the ghost of the man following him down the beach, 'I thought I told you to leave me', haunting him about the killing he just committed.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI was introduced to New Order in the late 80's and bought everything they ever put out. They never got the credit they should for the music they produced. I know many a band was influnced by them, and there has been different incarnations of their music, but New Order will always be thought of as a one hit type wonder group for most, which is to bad.
  • Gener from Las Vegas, NjI thought it also loosely dealt with Ian Curtis's suicide. Especially when he breaks into the Ian Curtis impersonation for a sec.
  • Steve from Chino Hills, CaThe band Orgy had a hit with a cover of this song back in the 90's.
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