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Arts, Culture & Religion

Who can claim the best-selling 12" of all time?

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“Bub-bub-bududududuh-bub-bub-bub-bub-bududududuh.” You probably won’t recognize it just by reading it – it looks abnormal put into words, something hardly done with the melody or sonic element of a song. Nevertheless, that's my rendition of the introduction to the world’s best-selling 12” single of all time.

New Order's hit Blue Monday owns a solemn title, but the irony of the single is that in the wake of the suicide of Ian Curtis - the catalyst of the dissolution of Joy Division – it propelled the remaining faction of Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris back into the peripheral of the post-punk world that was blossoming in 1983. 

After the death of Curtis, the remaining members of Joy Division decided to carry on without the Joy Division moniker – an agreement made in the early days should any founding member cease to remain part of the joy.  It wasn’t New Order’s first-released work, but it has come to be one of their most recognized (we simply cannot neglect Age of Consent, Ceremony, The Village, Your Silent Face and Dreams Never End amongst others). 

New Order “broke ground” in 1981 with their debut Movement; a sort of resurrection via synthesizers, dance sensibility and a solace found dabbling in electronic elements previously not explored.

Blue Monday, for the most part, in all its sweeping synthesizer glory, epitomizes New Order.  Its foundation is a proclamation of an oppressed character beleaguered by either him/herself or a loved one.  It’s very Ian Curtis in spirit – peculiar, because it's on the cusp of Bernard Sumner finding his own voice and not emulating Curtis to hold him over until this point – an observation I’ve long made about early New Order material.  In an interesting juxtaposition, the song has a fantastic ability to evoke the desire of gyration in almost anyone who hears it. Bernard Sumner himself has described it “not as a song but as a machine built to make people dance.”  It has a narcotic-like quality to it – a real feat for something that at its core does not have a happy ending.

Nevertheless, as a single it's sold more than three million copies to date, has been covered and sampled to a head-spinning degree and still continues to fill dance halls around the world.

If you haven’t heard it, treat yourself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSGWsmR4ipM

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