Friday, May 21, 2021

"Blue Monday 1988" by New Order

Song#:  3500
Date:  04/30/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  68
Weeks:  10
Genre:  New Wave, Alternative Dance

Pop Bits:  New Order had been popular throughout the 80s in their UK homeland where they scored two Top 10 hits and four Top 10 LPs. They were pretty much a cult band in the US, but that began to change when their 1987 compilation Substance made it to #36 and spawned the #3 Dance/#32 Pop single "True Faith." The album would eventually be a platinum seller. With the sudden burst of popularity and a new studio album not scheduled until early '89, the band's American label, Qwest, thought it would be an opportune moment to revisit their 1983 #9 UK hit "Blue Monday." Over time, that song had become the biggest selling 12" single in the UK and was the band's signature song. When first released in the US in 1983, the tune was a hit in the clubs and got to #5 on the Dance chart, but it didn't make the Pop chart (probably because it was only issued out as a 12" single and the song was over seven minutes long - not optimal for radio airplay). The head of Qwest, Quincy Jones, who had signed the band for the US market a year or so after "Blue Monday" first came out, thought that a new remixed version of the song could help to maintain the band's momentum. Jones would oversee the project and have John Potoker do the remix. When released, it became an immediate hit in the clubs and reached #1 on the Dance chart (in combination with another song "Touched By the Hand of God"). The song then crossed over to the Pop chart, but it didn't make as big of an impact as perhaps Jones had hoped. It stayed in the bottom third of the chart. The new remix was also released in other countries including the UK where it peaked higher than the original version at #3.

ReduxReview:  I do remember "Blue Monday" from its original version. Its atmospheric, mechanical, synthpop/new wave sound played well to various crowds from college kids to clubbers. I liked the track and found it really interesting, but didn't fully hook into it because it simply of grooved along without a chorus. It just featured a monotone-ish melody/verse. The new remix from Jones made the song more concise (therefore airplay worthy) and added various flourishes that gave it a more current feel. I don't think any harm was done to the song. In fact, the remix provided a more finished feel that had direction and it even had some urgency by the end. Overall, it was a solid remix. However, it still wasn't the catchiest track. At a time when pop radio demanded a memorable hook that grabbed listeners, this song just couldn't compete. Despite never being able to be a Pop hit in the US, the track has certainly remained popular.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The b-side to "Blue Monday 1988" was the song "Touched By the Hand of God." It was initially written for and used in the 1987 film Salvation! The song appeared on the soundtrack album along with four other New Order tracks. The indie film, directed by Beth B of NYC's No Wave scene, was a black comedy/parody of televangelism, which was a hot topic at the time due to the falls of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Among the cast was Exene Cervenka of the L.A. punk band X and Viggo Mortensen, who was making his second film appearance. The movie came and went while the soundtrack turned into a sort of curiosity in New Order's catalog. "Touched By the Hand of God" was issued as a single in the UK in 1987 and it reached #20.


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