Top 10 Facts About New Order’s “Blue Monday” (Which Turned 30 This Week)

The world’s best-selling 12-inch single turned 30 yesterday.  A couple of facts about “Blue Monday:”

1.  “Blue Monday” is about Monday, May 19, 1980, the day that the three surviving members of Joy Division learned that singer Ian Curtis had hung himself.  The Happy Mondays’ name was conceived as an antidote to that.

2. The track was designed to be played on autopilot.  Because New Order hated doing encores, they wanted to concoct a track that could be played by machines so they could get backstage and start drinking sooner.

3.  The song contains a mistake:  Gillian Gilbert accidentally left out a note while programming everything into her keyboards so the melody is out of syncy with the beat.  But the result was too much of a bother to fix.  And besides, it sounded pretty good.

4.  The song features a then-new sampler called an Emulator 1 for use on the song.  Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris learned how to use it by recording farts.  You heard me.

5.  The keyboard sounds on the long extro were sampled from a track called “Uranium” on Kraftwerk’s Radio-Activity album from 1975.

6.  The band was blitzed on acid for some of the sessions:  Once they got their parts down, the producer and the engineers sent them across the street to a pub so they could work in peace.

8.  This quickly became the biggest-selling 12-inch single in history, moving well over 3 million copies worldwide.

9.  However, thanks to a wildly ambitious bit of expensive packaging, New Order and Factory Records lost 30 pence on every copy that was sold.

10.  It seems like there are about 8 million different versions and mixes of the song.  Slicing Up Eyeballs catalogues some of them here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Facts About New Order’s “Blue Monday” (Which Turned 30 This Week)

  • March 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I hadn't realized the late Martin Streek's firing from The Edge had taken place upon the very weekend before… Tues. May 19th, 2009. The story had broken publicly upon the Monday 18th.
    Given his displayed enthusiasm of Goth culture, that was, it would seem, like firing a long-time choir singer right before Easter.

  • March 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Still coveting my original copy that I bought once my local record store got their shipment of imports that week. I have kept it in great shape too, I wouldn't want the vinyl or that expensive cover to lose any value (leave that to Factory for losing money on the packaging!).

  • September 15, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Was looking this up and just noticed that point 7 is missing!


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