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Stephen Morris is "fed up" with the New Order song 'Blue Monday'

@josephtaysom

Having a song of immense popularity is something that all artists secretly desire. However, the reality of the situation is often less desirable, as New Order’s Stephen Morris discovered when ‘Blue Monday’ went to stratospheric levels of adulation.

The drumbeat at the top of the track is one of the most recognisable sounds on the planet. Its fame transcends that of New Order, who, despite carving out a dynamic career over the last six decades, still feel superseded by the song’s boundless success. It has become a noose around the neck for drummer Stephen Morris, who admitted that he’s now “fed up” with it.

‘Blue Monday’ remains the highest-selling 12″ single of all time in the UK, and following its release, the song astonishingly spent 186 consecutive weeks in the chart. Despite New Order continuing to release new material over this period, nothing they shared stole the interest away from the track, much to Morris’ frustration.

Their resentment towards the song only grew as more remixes quenched the public’s neverending thirst for the hit. Most notably, Quincy Jones and John Potoker released their version in 1988, which charted at number three and maintained the song’s position at the top of the New Order agenda.

In recent years, due to its continued presence in popular culture, ‘Blue Monday’ remains the first thing that springs to mind when people think of New Order. 2018 blockbuster Ready Player One featured the 1998 remix, and an orchestral version even appeared in the trailer for Wonder Woman.

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“They’ve done a kind of orchestral version of it, and I’ve always kind of felt, Oh, no, not an orchestral anything, really,” Morris reacted to the teaser to the Miami New Times. “I’m a bit — not a stick in the mud; it’s just that electronic music is electronic music, and when you try to do it another way, it kind of loses something. It’s a really powerful arrangement they’ve done. But, you know, we’ve got other songs they could use.”

It’s not just Morris who has felt “fed up” with people refusing to look beyond ‘Blue Monday’ when it comes to New Order. Before Peter Hook’s acrimonious departure from the band, he told about his tumultuous relationship with the track. The bassist explained, “I go through stages of intense dislike for ‘Blue Monday,’ which I’m sure every group does when they get one song they’re synonymous with, but the way it keeps getting reinvented is wonderful. It seems to be one of those tracks that’s timeless, which is amazing.

“The fact that for two years no one spotted that the sleeves cost more to make than the records confirms this. I honestly thought ‘Thieves Like Us,’ the single after ‘Blue Monday,’ was far superior. ‘Blue Monday”s not a song, it’s a feeling, but once people hear that drum riff they’re off. People used to go mad when we didn’t play it. As you get older and mellower you appreciate what got you where you are. We play it now because people love it.”

‘Blue Monday’ can unite a room in a way that few other pieces of music can. Although for New Order, they don’t want one song to be the overarching legacy from their 40-year project. The group are far from a one-hit-wonder, and it understandably hurts to be perceived that way. 

However, whether they like it or not, ‘Blue Monday’ is unequivocally a fitting testimonial to New Order and a distillation of their brilliance.