“Blue Monday” Best-Selling 12” in History
“Blue Monday” by New Order remains the best-selling 12” in history. Pressed in a 12” vinyl format, the 7:29 version of “Blue Monday” has sold well over three million copies worldwide.
Over 1.2 million copies of the 12” have been sold in the U.K. alone. The track was originally recorded as a 12”, and then as a 7” (single) version that was edited to 4:10, to encourage radio play. The track is also featured on New Order’s 1983 album Power, Corruption, and Lies.
Written by New Order band members Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, and Peter Hook, “Blue Monday” has been remixed twice: once in 1988, and again in 1995. The 1988 remix was particularly notable, since it was remixed by legendary producer Quincy Jones and John Potoker, officially titled “Blue Monday ’88.” The 1988 remixed version generated new interest in the song all over the world, especially in New Zealand where it hit #1, and throughout Europe where it broke the Top 5 on the National Singles charts in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and in the U.K. “Blue Monday ‘88” also garnered significant Top 40 airplay in the U.S., where the original version primarily received only a scattering of commercial and college airplay. Quincy was originally reluctant to remix “Blue Monday,” since he recognized the genius of the original, but the band convinced Quincy to do it so that it could be included as a special addition on their Substance CD compilation. The 1995 remix of “Blue Monday” was largely ignored, devoid of any commercial success or critical acclaim.
As former New Order bassist extraordinaire and co-writer Peter Hook tells it, the expression “Blue Monday” comes from the Fats Domino song of the same name, recorded in 1956, although Fats Domino’s song only inspired the title of the New Order “Blue Monday.” The two songs couldn’t be more different, sonically and lyrically. Domino’s “Blue Monday” is a classic rhythm and blues track, written by Dave Bartholomew, originally sung by Smiley Lewis in 1954. Fats Domino is the first to cover it, but it was also covered by other luminaries, such as Buddy Holly, Cat Stevens, and Huey Lewis and the News.
New Order’s Encore
Peter, who is nicknamed “Hooky,” claims that New Order wrote “Blue Monday” in response to fan disappointment that they never played encores at their concerts. To remedy the problem, the band had the idea that instead of playing an encore, they would simply return to the stage, push play on a synthesizer sequencer, and then leave the stage again to go party, essentially not playing an encore, but giving the audience what they wanted. As the writing developed on the track that evolved into “Blue Monday,” the band started to feel really good about the song, and believed it could be shaped into something more significant than simply a sequencer filler used at the end of their live set.
The track was influenced, in part, by producer Arthur Baker, whom the band greatly admired. Baker ended up working with New Order on their follow-up single off Power, Corruption, and Lies called “Confusion.”
“Blue Monday” captivates the listener with a Semiquaver kick drum intro, programmed on an Oberheim DMX drum machine, and beats into that signature New Order bass line, played by a Moog Source, overlaid with Hooky’s bass guitar leads and sung with a haunting, mysterious vocal by lead singer Bernard Sumner. The pulsating energy of the song is unrelenting, fusing a riveting dance groove with alternative rock intensity. The band incorporated their passion for some of their favorite dance tracks into the creation of “Blue Monday,” including parts that were inspired from “Our Love” by Donna Summer, and “Dirty Talk” by Klein+M.B.O. The synthesized bass line in the epic song was influenced by “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester, and “Uranium” by the revolutionary electronic music outfit Kraftwerk.
Hooky and New Order parted ways, but the invaluable brilliance that he added to the distinctive New Order sound lives on in his live performances with his group Peter Hook & the Light, where they perform “Blue Monday” and other New Order and Joy Division classics.