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"Blue Monday"
New Order
New Order

Rising from the ashes of Punk and the controversially named Joy Division, New Order took the Manchester scene by storm in the mid 80s.

Their electronica sound with a disco beat exemplified in "Blue Monday" became a bigger hit than the band had ever imagined. Consequently not enough singles were made in the first pressing and no-one had factored-in the economics of Peter Saville’s expensive sleeve design, modelled on a floppy disc. Saville and Tony Wilson were both co-founders of the band's label Factory Records, where creativity, not economics, was the main focus.

Blue Monday sleeve
"'Blue Monday' was without a doubt a very expensive cover."

Reports differ on how much the band lost per single, anything from 2p to £1 but it still stopped the band making any money from what became the biggest selling 12-inch single of all time. Although it sold half a million copies it didn't get a Gold disc as Factory Records were not BPI (British Phonographic Industry) members. To compensate, its head honcho Tony Wilson got some gold statuettes made up instead.

Released as a 12-inch single only, the track was destined for club DJs and not the general record buying public. Despite no radio air-play or promotion the track sold in amazing quantities for such a format. Even more surprising since the band only had a small underground, indie following. Dave Haslam, resident DJ at Manchester's influencial Hacienda, also owned by Factory, says very few DJs were playing the track at first.

Dave Haslam's book
"No-one had really heard of New Order in the big wide world."

The track is widely regarded as a crucial link between Seventies disco and the Dance/House boom that took off at the end of the Eighties. Kick-starting the UK dance scene it also opened the door of dance music to a new audience. For these reasons it made #9 of Q magazine's Songs That Changed The World poll. In another poll, more than 40,000 people voted for it in VH1's survey of records that pack the dance-floor, and it is the infectious beat more than the lyrics which appeal to people.

Paul Morley
"It was a key moment historically."

"586" from Power, Corruption and Lies is regarded as the blueprint to "Blue Monday". Some experimentation with a Prophet 5 and DMX (synthesiser & drum machine) turned the track into its current state, despite the DMX losing everything which meant the band had to start programming all over again. Many believe the lyrics are an homage to the late Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, who killed himself in 1980 just before the release of their cult album Closer. But as vocalist Bernard Sumner reveals there was no major inspiration behind the words.

New Order
"I just wrote down whatever came into my head."

A proponent of 'electroclash' they were one of the few bands to credibly fuse punk and disco. Their manager, the late Rob Gretton was a big fan of the new, black American dance sound in the days when disco's popularity had all but waned. This inspiration of the New York disco clubs coupled with their industrial surroundings resulted in a sound world that in turn would influence Detroit DJs and many other British groups.

The song got a new lease of life at this year's BRITS when antipodean diva Kylie took the beat of the track and sung vocals to her current hit over the top.

It was the song if you were a student in the 80s

Jeremy Vine

  Listen to Jeremy Vine's uni memories

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Songwriting tips

Blue Monday" has been remixed by some top producers.

Find out more about production in the Producing and Arranging guide

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Have a go at the "Blue Monday" quiz!

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