Unusually topical for 80s45s; today is supposedly Blue Monday, the bleakest day of the year. It was invented to give newspapers something to report at this time (as opposed to actual news) either by identifying non-existent trends (The Nation’s Favourite what? Day to Top Itself?) or debunking tales of their own creation, and preferably both in alternate years. The nonsense idea behind it being that the third Monday in January is a perfect storm of Bad Things; too many days without sunshine, extreme depletion of funds and the comedown from Christmas excess.
The song by New Order, on the other hand, is a confluence of wondrous things: the chilly futuristic power of electronica versus the glittering retro warmth of disco. Put them together (with a bit of deadpan Mancunian swagger) and… the ice melts.
I’d love to say that I first heard it in some ill-reputed club, that it soundtracked the drug-fuelled adventures of my youth, but the reality of our tinytown existence meant my friend Eve borrowed a copy from an older guy in the village. (No longer with us, he was a gentle, music-loving soul who worked on the golf course, and used to get into bother with the greenkeeper for stopping the lawnmower to move earthworms out of the way.) Blue Monday sounded vastly superior to anything even remotely like it and we just listened to it over and over again for a few weeks until we had to return it. Given the saturation of the Joy Division/New Order/Factory myths in our shared consciousness, it hardly matters. Those implanted impressions are quite as potent as the actual memories of just sitting around in my bedroom, burning violet incense and listening to music.
Even if I heard it for the first time today though, it would sound every bit as arresting as it did over thirty years ago. All the best dance music is (of course) a bit melancholic: Happy Blue Monday.