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.