After the tragic death of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis in 1980, the remaining band members, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris, made the almost impossible decision to carry on. Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert was enlisted, the name New Order was adopted, and slowly, the band began to emerge from the long shadow cast by Curtis’ suicide. Today, they’re widely considered one of the most acclaimed and influential British band’s to emerge from the 1980s. Here’s our pick of the 10 best New Order songs of all time.
The making of 1993’s Republic may have been unpleasant (according to bassist Peter Hook, the band were coerced into making it by their label, Factory, who told them if they didn’t produce another album, the label would go bankrupt and The Hacienda, the Manchester club partially owned by the band, would go with them), but there’s no hint of that on its sublime lead single Regret, a perfectly crafted, perfectly executed song that reached the top ten in Canada, Ireland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom and number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 – the band’s highest-ever entry on the chart.
9. Everything’s Gone Green
Described by Factory owner Tony Wilson as “the most important song in the modern world,” Everything’s Gone Green represents New Order’s first experience with electronics, first venture into self-production, and first time sampling a Donna Summer song. All three come together to create a shimmering piece of angsty electronica and one of the band’s most influential (and enjoyable) songs.
8. Thieves Like Us
As The Guardian notes, romantic isn’t an adjective readily associated with New Order, but it’s the perfect fit for Thieves Like Us. Lushly textured and richly melodic, it’s an exquisitely tender, achingly fragile piece of pop gold. Released in April 1984 as the A-side to Lonesome Tonight, it charted at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart and number 5 on the Irish Singles Chart.
7. Doubts Even Here
Movement, the band’s debut album from 1981, doesn’t get a lot of love, partly because it feels more like a Joy Division leftover than a New Order album and partly because Bernard Sumner keeps dissing Martin Hannett’s production. But for all its faults, it’s a treasure trove of gems, with Doubts Even Here ranking as one of the sparkliest. It might be virtually unknown outside of the band’s core fanbase, but if anyone’s to blame for that, it’s New Order, who kicked it off their live setlist 33 years ago and haven’t revisited it since. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. With its moody bassline and slow-building climax, it’s a strikingly beautiful song.
6. Blue Monday
Perhaps the band’s most instantly recognizable and well-known song, Blue Monday became a major hit for New Order back in 1983. Released as a 12-inch single on 7 March 1983, it hit the top ten in almost every country it charted in, clocked up 186 weeks on the UK Independent Singles Chart, topped the dance chart in the US, and eventually became the best-selling 12″ single of all time. Since it was reissued on different formats, it’s sold over 1.6 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the band’s highest-selling (and highly acclaimed) singles. Many bands have covered it over the years, including Orgy, Flunk, and Health, but none have come close to bettering the original.
In 1987, New Order revisited their back catalog on Substance 1987, a compilation of singles along with two new versions of past hits. One of those hits was Temptation, a song originally released as a non-album single in 1982. It became one of the album’s highlights, with Bernard Sumner swapping his usual deadpan delivery for a wistful croon and the band draping the song’s hard edges with a soft, pillowy covering. It’s a gorgeous rendition, but for all its strengths, the clumsy exuberance of the original has the edge.
4. True Faith
Written from the perspective of a remorseless heroin addict, True Faith combines cutting lyrics with effortless melodies to create one of the best rock-orientated club bangers ever recorded. Released in July 1987 from the compilation album Substance 1987, it became the band’s breakthrough in the US, scoring them their first top 40 hit on the Hot 100 when it peaked at number 32. In the UK, it reached number 4 on the Singles Chart.
Following the death of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis in 1980, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris were faced with a choice: give up, or find a way to carry on. They carried on, taking their first steps as the newly titled New Order with Ceremony, the last song they’d worked on with Curtis (who’s listed as a songwriter). Weary, cautiously hopeful, and utterly transcendent, it remains one of the most beautiful songs in their arsenal.
2. The Perfect Kiss
Described by stereogum.com, as “in turns playful and dramatic, danceable and exhausting, it’s everything all at once, a perfect kiss and a little taste of death,” The Perfect Kiss distills everything there is to love about New Order – exuberant performances, intricate lyrics, rich textures, and a melody that worms its way into your ear and stays there. Released as a single in May 1985, it charted at number 46 in the UK and number 5 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart.
1. Age of Consent
As soon as Peter Hook steps up with that iconic opening bass on Age of Consent, you know you’re in for something good. Bristling with twangy riffs, frenetic drumming, and a two-note guitar motif from Sumner that might well be one of the most heavenly things ever committed to tape, it’s New Order at their euphoric, joyful best. First recorded in 1983, it endures as one of their most instantly recognizable and best-loved songs to this day.