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Blue Monday (New Order song)

"Blue Monday" is a song by the English rock band New Order. It was released as a 12-inch single on 7 March 1983 through Factory Records and later as a 7-inch single through Tonpress in 1985. It appeared on certain cassette and CD versions of the band's second studio album, Power, Corruption & Lies (1983).

"Blue Monday" is a synth-pop and alternative dance song that drew inspirations from many works of other artists. The 12" single was backed with a primarily instrumental version of the song entitled "The Beach" on the B-side. The single's unique packaging was designed by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens. It features a die-cut sleeve designed to resemble a 5¼" floppy disk. The front cover features no words, but instead has code in the form of coloured blocks that reads out the artist, song, and label information, once deciphered.

The original single was a commercial hit, making the top 10 in many countries. In New Zealand, it peaked at number 2 and spent 74 weeks (spread across three calendar years) in the top 50. The 1988 remix peaked at number 3 on the UK chart. It is the best-selling 12" single of all time. In the United Kingdom, it has sold 1.16 million copies in all formats, including the 1988 and 1995 re-releases. Sales of the original 1983 12" release account for the bulk of the total, at over 700,000 copies. The song has been widely acclaimed, and is ranked by Acclaimed Music as the 38th most acclaimed song of all time. It was remixed by the band twice, in 1988 and 1995. The 1988 remix went reached number 1 in New Zealand and the top 10 in other countries. The song has been covered by bands including Orgy, Flunk and 808 State.

Background

"Blue Monday" was described by the BBC Radio 2 "Sold on Song" feature as "a crucial link between Seventies disco and the dance/house boom that took off at the end of the Eighties." Synth-pop had been a major force in British popular music for several years, but "Blue Monday", with encouragement by the band's manager Rob Gretton, was a dance record that also exhibited influences from the New York club scene, particularly the work of producers such as Arthur Baker (who collaborated on New Order's follow-up single "Confusion").

Composition



"Blue Monday" was composed on a prototype-level homebrew "step-time" sequencer in binary code. It was originally written in the key of D minor and contains a basic chord progression of Dm-F-C-Dm-G-C. The song has been labeled a "synth-pop classic" and described as cementing the group's movement from post-punk to alternative dance. It has been noted as an example of the hi-NRG style of club music, as well.

The song begins with a distinctive semiquaver kick drum intro, programmed on an Oberheim DMX drum machine. Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert fades in a sequenced melody, out of sync with the beat because she had forgotten to input a note into the sequencer. The verse section features the song's signature throbbing synth bassline, played on a Moog Source, overlaid with Peter Hook's bass guitar leads. The synth bassline was sequenced on a Powertran Sequencer home built by Sumner. Bernard Sumner delivers the lyrics in a deadpan manner. "Blue Monday" is an atypical hit song in that it does not feature a standard verse-chorus structure. After a lengthy introduction, the first and second verses are contiguous and are separated from the third verse only by a brief series of sound effects. A short breakdown section follows the third verse, which leads to an extended outro.

The band claimed to have written the song in response to crowd disappointment at the fact that they never played encores. The song was planned to allow them to return to the stage, press play on a synthesiser and leave the stage again, but while writing the song it evolved into a project that the band quite liked, and it was turned from an experiment into a single. However, the band since have become noted for playing "Blue Monday" as an encore. "Blue Monday" was influenced by several songs. Hook said the song was "stolen" from the Donna Summer song "Our Love" from the Bad Girls album. Bernard Sumner said part of the arrangement came from "Dirty Talk", by Klein + M.B.O, the synthesised bassline from Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". Hook's bassline was derived from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, For a Few Dollars More: Hook said "I stole it" after watching the film of the same name in the studio. In the Guardian, Clinton Heylin alleged that the song was derived from "Gerry and the Holograms", the 1979 title track by the novelty group of the same name, but Sumner denied this. Some rhythmic and synthesizer elements of the song had been used by the band in an earlier composition, "Video 5 8 6", in 1982, which evolved into the track "5 8 6", appearing on the band's 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies.

Packaging

The 1983 edition artwork is designed to resemble a 5¼" floppy disk. The sleeve does not display either the group name nor song title in plain English anywhere; the only text on the sleeve is "FAC SEVENTY THREE" on the spine. Instead the legend "FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER" is represented in code by a series of coloured blocks. The key enabling this to be deciphered was printed on the back sleeve of the album, Power, Corruption & Lies. "Blue Monday" and Power, Corruption & Lies are two of four Factory releases from this time period to employ the colour code, the others being "Confusion" by New Order and From the Hip by Section 25.

The single's original sleeve, created by Factory designer Peter Saville and Brett Wickens, was die-cut with a silver inner sleeve. It cost so much to produce that Factory Records actually lost money on each copy sold. Matthew Robertson's Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album notes that "[d]ue to the use of die-cutting and specified colours, the production cost of this sleeve was so high that the single sold at a loss." Tony Wilson noted that it lost 5p per sleeve "due to our strange accounting system"; Saville noted that nobody expected "Blue Monday" to be a commercially successful record at all, so nobody expected the cost to be an issue." In Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records, Saville states "I am so bored with this story. We didn't even know how many of these expensive covers were ever made anyway."

Robertson also noted that "later reissues had subtle changes to limit the cost" (the diecut areas being replaced with printed silver ink). Saville commented in 2013 that the printers "banged out a cheaper version. I don't know how many thousands were sold [the original] way, or whether Factory were charged the full price for something they didn't get, which would be very Factory." Peter Saville Associates charged Factory £538.20 for the sleeve design. The artwork was so late that Saville sent it straight to the printer, unreviewed by either the band or the label. The 1988 and 1995 versions were packaged in conventional sleeves.

Music videos

A music video for a shortened version of the original song was created in 1983, featuring military clips with false colour, simple computer-generated graphics such as colour blocks and geometric lines, digitised video of band members at very low resolution and framerate, and a short appearance of the game Zaxxon (reportedly the Apple II port). The colour blocks were created using Peter Saville's colour-coded alphabet.

On the Australian show Rage, a video was shown containing footage taken from their BBC Top of the Pops performance with the studio track dubbed over it.

The music video for "Blue Monday '88" appears on the Substance video collection (released as a companion to the album of the same name). The video features sketches by photographer William Wegman and his Weimaraner dog named Fay Ray doing balancing acts intercut with hand-drawn animation by Robert Breer. The band members are shown standing around doing various tasks, such as walking a wooden plank over a floor that is painted blue, holding wire-mesh constructed art and milk crates over their faces, being hit by tennis balls, and standing still while they flip through various flip books (tying into the hand-drawn animation sequences).

In September 2012 New Order headlined a festival at Portmeirion in North Wales and festival organisers recruited the support of the local Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir to produce a cover version and accompanying video.

Releases

"Blue Monday" has been a hit several times in the UK. In 1983, it charted twice, initially reaching number 12, then re-entering the chart later in the year and climbing to number 9, helped by the fact that neither side of the single (the B-side "The Beach" was an instrumental re-working of "Blue Monday", whose lyrics include the line "I thought I told you to leave me when I walked down to the beach") was featured on the UK version of the group's subsequent album, Power, Corruption & Lies. Despite selling well it was not eligible for an official gold disc because Factory Records was not a member of the British Phonographic Industry association. According to the Official Charts Company, its total sales stand at 1.16 million in the United Kingdom alone, and "Blue Monday" came 69th in the all-time UK best-selling singles chart published in November 2012.

New Order appeared on the BBC's Top of the Pops, on 31 March 1983, to promote the song. New Order insisted on performing "Blue Monday" live. The performance was dogged by technical problems, and was unrepresentative of the recording. In the words of drummer Stephen Morris, "Blue Monday was never the easiest song to perform, anyway, and everything went wrong. The synthesisers went awry. It sounded awful". In 1985, "Blue Monday" and "Thieves Like Us" were officially released in Poland as a 7" single in a different sleeve by Tonpress under license from Factory Records and sold over 50,000 copies and reached number 5 on the year-end single chart. In 1988, "Blue Monday" was officially remixed by Quincy Jones and John Potoker under the title "Blue Monday 1988" (with the instrumental flip being titled "Beach Buggy"). The single reached number 3 on the British chart, number 4 on the Australian chart, and topped the dance chart in the United States. A further official remix/reissue in 1995, with a mix by Hardfloor as the lead track, also made the British Top 20. The song has sold 1.21 million copies in the UK as of October 2015. Overall it has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

The single was not originally on Power, Corruption & Lies, but was included on the Gap Records Australia/New Zealand cassette version (though listed only on the cassette itself, not on the card) and the 1986 Qwest Records US CD version.

In 2008, Collector's Editions of all New Order's 1980s albums were released, with remastered versions of the original 12" "Blue Monday" and its B-side "The Beach" appearing on the Collector's Edition of Power, Corruption & Lies. Meanwhile, two versions of "Blue Monday '88" appear on the Collector's Edition of 1986's Brotherhood.

  • 1987: Substance 1987 – Original 12" version
  • 1994: Best of New Order – 1988 7" version
  • 1995: Rest of New Order – Hardfloor Mix [note: some versions come with a disc of "Blue Monday" remixes]
  • 2002: International – Original 12" version
  • 2002: Retro – Original 12" version and Jam and Spoon Manuela Mix
  • 2005: Singles – Original 12" version [note: this version omits the opening seconds] and 1988 7" version
  • 2011: Total - Original 12" version
  • 2016: Singles (2016 re-release) - Original 12" version and 1988 7" version

    Compilation appearances include

  • 1996 The Best...Album in the World...Ever! - New edited version of 12" mix (runs at 6:45 length)
  • 2001 Mixmag B!g Tunes - Original 12" version
  • 2002 Electric Dreams - Original 12" version
  • 2008 Anthems II 1991-2009 - 1988 7" mix (mixed into "Chime" by Orbital)
  • 2011 Arkives - Plastikman Remix

    Track listing



    Blue MondayBlue Monday 1988Acid House Mixes By 808 State (1988)Blue Monday-95
  • "Blue Monday (Plutone Dub)" (4:46) was only made available on promo vinyl FAC73PL
  • Released in 2004.

    Personnel

  • Bernard Sumner – vocals, synthesizers and programming
  • Peter Hook – 6-string bass, electronic percussion
  • Stephen Morris – drums, synthesizers and programming
  • Gillian Gilbert – synthesizers and programming

    Charts

    "Blue Monday"Acid House Mixes by 808 State (1988)"Blue Monday 1988"Notes:
  • - Charted with "Touched by the Hand of God"

    "Blue Monday-95"2006 and 2009 reissues

    Certifications

    Cover versions

    Orgy

    "Blue Monday" was covered by American alternative metal band Orgy. A cover version of the New Order song, it was released on 14 December 1998. Internationally, the song was a hit, appearing on music charts worldwide. It has been attributed with providing industrial and metal music with a fresh connection.

    Background

    In an interview with Billboard guitarist Amir Derakh said that upon working on the song they "wanted to do the original 'Blue Monday' justice" and had expected more criticism. He went on to say that they felt lucky to have covered it and that they felt it could have been something that they had written. The fact that their first major hit was a cover of the 1980s electronica/dance song did not bother the band.

    Their first official single release featured various versions of "Blue Monday" and upon the success of the song the band decided to include their previous single "Stitches" on the second release. With the label's support this release was an enhanced CD that featured the music video for "Blue Monday" on 9 February 1999, which was in QuickTime format. "Blue Monday" has been made into several dance remixes, some which were produced to appeal to the underground dance club scene, and was even advertised under "Club Mix" 2000, a popular dance compilation series.

    The music video for "Blue Monday" also appeared on several music television stations, and the song was also released on vinyl.

    Success

    The song appeared on modern rock radio stations, and was a hit on MTV; it appeared on MTV's alternative music program 120 minutes and TRL, in which it debuted at number eight on 22 February 1999. The song was perceived as the band's gateway to success, allowing them to tour in Ozzfest. and in the Family Values Tour and led to the rerelease of the song "Stitches". The song appeared in Spin Magazine's "Hits of the Year" for 1999. "Blue Monday" is also said to have helped pave the way for the cyberpunk trend, as best exemplified in the popularity of the 1999 science fiction film The Matrix, which appeared soon afterwards. In an interview of Joel Gallen in Los Angeles Magazine, the music supervisors were discussing the use of Orgy's "Blue Monday" for a football scene in Not Another Teen Movie (2001), among others. Stating that the song "had energy", they eventually selected it for the movie, and it appeared in the soundtrack as well.

    "Blue Monday" charted internationally, some of which included CMJ's "Commercial Alternative Cuts" and Billboard's Alternative, Pop, and Dance song charts as well as others. It also appeared in Time Magazine and Newsweek in 2000 as featured song clips.

    Reception



    Orgy's "Blue Monday" has been called the "aggro-fied-for-the-1990s" version of New Order's song, and it is considered to be part of a resurgence of new wave covers in gloomcore, along with Dope's cover of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)". Many critics attribute the success of the album Candyass to "Blue Monday", and some anticipated that Orgy would become a one-hit wonder, believing that it would be difficult for the band to follow up with another hit song. Many believed it to be their best song. Porter W. Richards of Sputnik felt that even though many of the songs off of Candyass sounded similar, "Blue Monday" was a great song that should not be overlooked. While the New Order song is viewed positively by the author of the comic book series Blue Monday, Chynna Clugston, in an interview she expresses dislike for the misconception that she borrowed the title for her book from Orgy's cover version rather than the original.

    In a January 2000 Spin Magazine interview, Buckcherry's vocalist Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson did not speak highly of the song, likening its sound to a Nine Inch Nails rip-off and calling the sound "mechanical".

    Track listing



    Information on Blue Monday (single).:Information on Blue Monday/Stitches.

    Chart performance

    Flunk



    Flunk covered the song and released it as single in 2002. In this version, Flunk slows down "Blue Monday", making it a popular hit for Flunk, based in part on the song's wide recognition. The lyrics become the focus for this version rather than the danceable beat (which was emphasized in the original version). The single received generally positive reviews by electronic music critics, but Mallory O'Donnell of Stylus Magazine commented that Flunk "only showed the paucity of melody" of the original New Order song. The song was subsequently remixed, with at least 7 remixes along with the original version available. The original release was on the 2002 EP titled Blue Monday.

    Appearances

  • Walking Tall (2004)
  • Nancy Drew (2007)

    2002 EP track listing

    # "Blue Monday" # "Eight Days a Freak" # "Blue Monday" (Howard Maple Mess Up Mix)