108. New Order – ‘Blue Monday’ (1983)

“Those who came before me
Lived through their vocations
From the past until completion
They’ll turn away no more”

Taken from the album Substance

Also released on The Best Of New Order, The Rest Of New Order, International, Retro and Singles

UK #3, AUS #4, US #68

Even though it is far from the truth, this feels like the birth of dance music. It just has that epic, important feeling like what we’re hearing is something really historically significant and special. And while Kraftwerk & Moroder had the birth of electronica taken care of way before New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division, ‘Blue Monday’ is still one of the most influential, remixed, covered and referenced dance music records in history.

The lyrics are abstract and difficult to understand, yet ‘Blue Monday’ regularly gets described as an “anthem”. It doesn’t have a chorus, it has an instrumental instead. Every place you would normally see a hook, there’s a synth riff or stutter effect. “I see a ship in the harbour” is my favourite bit, really catchy but without any emotion or obvious meaning. “Tell me how do I feel, tell me now how do I feel?” Bernard Sumner sings, in complete deadpan. He’s asking the beat to inform him, to give his lyrics meaning, to tell him how he feels because he doesn’t know himself.

‘Blue Monday’ has the distinction of being a hit four times, charting twice on original release in 1983 and then again in the remixed form of ‘Blue Monday 88’. It charted yet again in 1995 after being further remixed. Though it never made it further than number three, it is the biggest selling twelve-inch single of all time, and it thoroughly and completely deserves that honour.


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