How Does It Feel?
So, Blue Monday eh? Supposedly the most depressing day of the year…but to be honest, it’s a day like any other. Yes, there’s been a mathematical equation applied that indicates the third Monday of the year is the day we want to wrap it due to rubbish weather, the length of time left until payday and the fact that we’re all starving and sober due to January diets and fasts.
It’s a lot of nonsense to be honest, and today, like any other day, is what you make of it. There are many parts of the day that you can’t control, so there’s no point in worrying about them and if you spend the parts of the day you can control moaning about what supposedly lies in store for us all, you get what you deserve.
So let’s focus on Blue Monday by New Order, a song with more myths and half-stories than the horoscope page (or the transfer rumour page) in a free newspaper. It’s the single that supposedly cost the band money with every copy sold and eventually, it would go on to sell over 1 million copies in its various guises and remixes.
One of the best things about Factory Records is that you should never fully believe anything that the company said. Yes, you can pretty much guarantee that Peter Saville was late with the artwork for the original single, pushing it straight to the printer without the label or band seeing it. Yes, there does seem to be consensus about the fact that the unique nature of the initial cover’s design saw the band lose 5p per sale! However, Tony Wilson talked about his loss in the context of the label’s “strange accounting system” and the most surprising thing about this was that Factory Records claimed to have an accounting system! Anyways, if they didn’t lose money here, the band would likely have just thrown their money away in a nightclub…but that of course is a very different and longer story for New Order and Factory!
Not that we can let discussion about the cover end there. There was no text detailing the band, single name or label on the cover but if you had the colour key produced by Peter Saville, you’d have been able to decipher “FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER” without too much fuss or effort. Then again, the fact that the colour key was provided on the band’s Power, Corruption & Lies album back cover, and this album was released after the single, limited people’s opportunity to do so upon initial release.
The song was recorded in 1982 and was first released in 1983, hitting number 9 in the charts. In 1988, a Quincy Jones remix version of the song, Blue Monday ‘88, made its way into the UK Top Ten, peaking at number 3. Just for good measure, the song was further remixed and reissued in 1995, reaching number 17 in the UK charts.
Blue Monday featured on Top of the Pops on 31st March, 1983 and it no doubt gave dads up and down the country the opportunity to ask “what is this rubbish we’re watching?” and “is this what the youth of today listen to?” Perhaps some people’s opinion of New Order live has been formed due to outings like this but even hardcore New Order fans would agree that the band’s live shows could be questionable at times.
Bernard Sumner, when speaking about the song, listed four key influences that the band turned to in order to create that now instantly recognised sound.
Klein & MBO – Dirty Talk
Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
Our Love – Donna Summer
Uranium – Kraftwerk
Making song by committee or taking the best bits of various songs and throwing them together is a recipe for disaster but Blue Monday worked a treat, creating its own legacy and acting as a bridge between the 70s and 80s..and of course, beyond.
It also gave us Kylie carrying out this little number at one of the Brit Awards where nothing else of interest or excitement happened:
So, Blue Monday, a brilliant song in its own right and a song with its own rock n roll mythology that we’re all drawn to. Hopefully the music cheered you up or you got a laugh out of the incompetency of Factory and the shambolic nature of the band!
However, even with all of these points in mind, there will be some people who will be feeling down today, but you just need to get your head down and plough through it. Perhaps thinking of sunnier and warmer times having fun may help….so remember, Sunkist is the one: