Greatest Song of All Time of the Day: "Blue Monday," New Order

Happy Monday. There are plenty of terrific songs about Mondays: Fela Kuti's "Monday Morning in Lagos," Marshall Crenshaw's "Monday Morning Rock," T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday," Fleetwood Mac's "Monday Morning." And then there's The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays," which captured a moment but hasn't aged particularly well. Indeed, most synthpop from the early '80s has aged as well as the haircut from that guy in A Flock of Seagulls. It's cold, distant, more about technology and production than any human emotions. New Order, at its best, was as precise as the best synth-pop but almost painfully warm, playing tension-and-release games that were exciting, welcoming, and irresistibly danceable. Their top songs ("Temptation," "Age of Consent," "The Perfect Kiss," to name a few) didn't merely express emotion; they were all about expressing emotion: how hard it is, how rewarding it is, how scary it is. You could hear it in the approach/avoidance lyrics and the skyscraper-high wall of colliding rhythms. Synthesizers and drum machines sped up, slowed down, spun out of control, emerged from chaos right on the beat, as a very human voice teetered between revenge and regret. As singer Bernard Sumner asks here, at once both deadpan and ready to explode, mirroring another singer who liked to work the same fields: How does it feel?


  1. I was afraid for a moment that you had posted the inferior “Blue Monday 88” remixed by Quincy Jones. It turns out you posted the awesome original single version and it’s just the picture on the video that is from 1988. What a relief.

  2. Please let’s not forget “Blue Monday” by Fats Domino. It came out in the mid 1950s:

    Blue Monday how I hate Blue Monday
    Got to work like a slave all day
    Here come Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday
    I’m so tired got no time to play
    Here come Wednesday, I’m beat to my socks
    My gal calls, got to tell her that I’m out
    ‘Cause Thursday is a hard workin’ day
    And Friday I get my pay
    Saturday mornin’, oh Saturday mornin’
    All my tiredness has gone away
    Got my money and my honey
    And I’m out on the stand to play

    Sunday mornin’ I’m feelin’ bad
    But it’s worth it for the time that I had
    But I’ve got to get my rest
    ‘Cause Monday is a mess

    1. Yes it did, and here’s a link to Fats’ song:

      Love that New Orleans sound, and I’d like to take this opportunity to point out for your notice Fats’ “secret weapon”: the sax playing of David Bartholomew For more on this under-appreciated musician, see:

      And as to Mr Bartholomew’s his lack of recognition: ain’t that a shame?

  3. Not bad, but when it comes to “Blue Monday,” I gotta go with Fats Domino. Yes, I’m old. Send the geezer bus.

  4. I love New Order.

    But they are not warm, unless you are not listening to the lyrics.

    Shall we remember that New Order is Joy Division after Ian Curtis killed himself? The music is happier but the lyrics are still dark.

    And I still find it so hard
    To say what I need to say
    But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
    Just how I should feel today

    Tell me how does it feel
    When your heart’s grown cold?

  5. I tend to agree with Jimmy, warm as in showing emotion. For electronic music, New Order is brimming with the human condition. Power, Corruption and Lies is one of the most emotionally intense albums. So beautiful and sad at the same time. It strips you down to the core. The simplicity behind the complexity of New Order never fails to impress.

  6. the New Order song was the theme for a lunchtime show on my local college radio show (carbon-14 dating myself). For some reason I love to sing these lyrics to it “How does it feel — to slip on a banana peel?” and then more variants thereof.

    for the record — I like the Fats Domino Blue Monday a lot too …

  7. “Power Corruption and Lies” is one of my all time favourite albums. New Order epitomise eighties music to me, experimental and fresh but very accessible. I always get excited when people talk about having a retro eighties party, then dismally disappointed when I hear Pat Benatar and Billy Ocean blaring out, rather than the Smiths and New Order. And the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Cocteau Twins. Depeche Mode, OMD. Pop music let’s go! Anyone here like the Human League? OK!

  8. Although it WAS written by Ian Curtis and played live with Joy Divisian before his suicide, I rather like the cover of Ceremony by New Order.

  9. I can’t believe this is boingboing and no one’s mentioned it yet…I guess no one reviewed it when it came out either ;)

    Paul Morley‘s Words and Music is a _fantastic_ read, if you like either of the title’s subject matter. Descriptions of Kylie Minogue riding shotgun with Kraftwerk down the Autobahn to a golden dildo city…can’t be beat, really. He claims that the Blue Monday/Kylie Minogue mashup Can’t Get Blue Monday Out of My Head is the pinnacle of pop music…and he may just be right.

    The music lists he makes are unrivalled (including 5 different “100 greatest albums of all time”, “88 Albums – If You Think Radiohead’s Kid A is Weird, Then You Should Really Hunt This Music Down” and “110 Other Albums to Think About if you Think That Radiohead’s Kid A is Really Weird”, “121 Songs That Explain Why Kraftwerk are Kraftwerk & Just How & Where & When Their Influence Spread & Turned (The order is precise but mysterious. This is probably more than 121 songs, but who’s counting?)”, “Greatest Pop Single of All Time (210)” and that’s just a start)…and if you need to buy it

    The book first came to my attention via DJ Food‘s Raiding the 20th Century, which is only equalled by Soda Jerk‘s Pixel Pirates II in remixing lore

  10. Just look at this awesome Kylie Minogue video about banana eating monkey man.

    A little bit of Toots dies everytime you watch it.

  11. I have been validated. I’ve always thought Blue Monday was the greatest song of all time, of my lifetime anyway. (born in 1977)

  12. “… most synthpop from the early ’80s has aged as well as the haircut from that guy in A Flock of Seagulls. It’s cold, distant, more about technology and production than any human emotions”


    – Soft Cell didn’t detail the loneliness of bedsit land and tainted love
    – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark didn’t sing about the longing of Joan of Arc
    – The Human League weren’t a wicked mix of humour and tremendous sci-fi imagination
    – Kraftwerk’s Neon Lights isn’t a paean to industrial beauty and Man Machine doesn’t refer to post-McLuhan humanity
    – Depeche Mode’s Couldn’t Get Enough, etc was about the monophonic synths, not love and/or sex
    – The Normal, John Foxx and Gary Numan had nothing to do with Burroughs or Ballard…

    These artists and many more influenced generations of music thereafter from techno to Junior Boys, Goldfrapp, Tricky, etc, etc.

    What a dumb, ill-informed thing to say.

  13. Great song. Didn’t realize it was that long.

    But for me, I prefer Flunk’s version better. It has more soul.

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