The 10 Best New Order Songs

Music Lists New Order
The 10 Best New Order Songs

When the great British synth-pop act New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division, they became something even greater than what they had been. New Order was arguably more influential and certainly more fun than the hallowed, mopey post-punk group fronted by doomed singer Ian Curtis. Today, the Manchester icons released a live LP, NOMC15, that was recorded at London’s Brixton Academy in 2015 during a tour supporting that year’s studio release Music Complete. NOMC15 includes a mix of new songs and some of the band’s most beloved tracks, and in that spirit, we’re taking a look at the 10 best New Order songs.

10. “True Faith”
Although New Order flirted with stateside successes throughout the early-to-mid-‘80s thanks to their inclusion on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack and the strength of their dance club singles you’ll find later on this list, it wasn’t until 1987 that they finally scored their first U.S. Top 40 hit with this song. Written to be part of the new material component of their singles compilation Substance, it was thought highly enough of to actually be given two separate 12” single releases—an original version and a “Morning Sun Extended Remix” version by the legendary Shep Pettibone. With melodic hooks informing the band’s ever-evolving approach to dance music, “True Faith” became an instant classic for the band. It remains one of the creative highlights of New Order’s entire career, too, spawning additional remix releases in 1994 and 2001. Also adding to the song’s enduring nostalgic legacy is the comfortably trippy surrealist music video that was an MTV mainstay throughout 1987 and for many years after. —Will Hodge

9. “Blue Monday”
There aren’t many seven-and-a-half-minute pop songs in the world that make you feel like every last second of that running time is essential. Editing it down or fading it out before its logical conclusion would only dull its impact. That’s why, no matter how many bands have tried, cover versions of “Blue Monday” feel almost tawdry. You don’t fuck with perfection. (Though New Order certainly tried with their ill-advised 1988 re-recording.) The original article, released in early 1983, was the band finally finding a direction after spending the first couple of years shedding the last vestiges of the dark foreboding feeling of their previous incarnation as Joy Division. They were now just as in love with the rigid synthpop of Kraftwerk (whose song “Uranium” was sampled here) as they were the loose swing of disco. The group found the meeting point between those two approaches on previous single “Temptation,” but crystallized it here. Intellectually deconstructing the song feels just as good as letting go of all your inhibitions on the dance floor while it blasts out of a great set of speakers. —Robert Ham

8. “Run”
Folk music doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when thinking of New Order, but they drew inspiration from that genre’s heyday for the final single off of Technique. In fact, due to similarities with the opening guitar of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver, Denver is now officially credited as a song-writer on their song “Run.” Of course, “Run” still possesses the sonic elements to give it New Order’s signature flair, with somber lyrics like “You work your way to the top of the world / then you break your life in two” and “So what’s the use in complaining / when you’ve got everything you don’t need” undercutting the brighter acoustics. If you’re looking for the recipe for a classic alternative video, check out the video for “Run.” Mysterious child? Check. Older man in a suit? Check. Interspersed live footage of the band, yep, got that in there, as well. —Katherine Logan

7. “Vanishing Point”
Towards the end of the ‘80s, New Order continued to push the boundaries of electronic dance-rock by escaping the dreary confines of the U.K. recording studios to make their fifth studio album Technique within the subtropical, 24/7 party atmosphere of Ibiza. There they were introduced to a variety of new sonic influences like acid house and Balearic through the island’s wall-to-wall club scene, allowing them to once again stay ahead of the curve of where dance music was headed going into the ‘90s. While never released as a single from Technique, “Vanishing Point” was certainly one of the album’s standout deep tracks that helped bridge the gap between the band’s early pulsing synthscapes and their newer Ibiza-informed euphoric buoyancy. An instrumental version of “Vanishing Point” was also used as the theme song to the BBC series Making Out from 1989-1991, eventually getting released as a bonus track on the 2008 reissue of Technique as the “Instrumental Making Out Mix.” —Will Hodge

6. “Bizarre Love Triangle”
If not for “Blue Monday,” this would be the song that New Order would be best remembered for. By that point in the band’s run (1986), the quartet was generating genius at a god-like level. Their two previous albums—1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies and 1985’s Low-Life—were masterpieces that fluidly slipped between post-punk, pop and dance music. And the singles they would release around them were nothing short of amazing. They continued that hot streak with 1986’s Brotherhood and the one single they released from the record, “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Elements of the song have become the lingua franca of pop fans from that first drum fill to that wonderful opening lyric (“Everytime I think of you / I feel a shock right through with a bolt of blue”) and bliss-inducing chorus to the synth ostinatos that float through the song warm memories. Dozens of band have been chasing down a sound as honeydripping and danceable as this one. All have failed. —Robert Ham

5. “All The Way”
With “All the Way” New Order expresses similar frustrations as on “Run.” Lines like “I don’t give a damn about what all those people say” may be targeted at critics of the band, as well as those continuing to center the narrative around the past (especially Ian Curtis of Joy Division’s suicide). The chorus—“It takes years to find the nerve / to be apart from what you’ve done / to find the truth inside yourself / and not depend on anyone”—is a relatable, sad echo of the difficult nature of developing self-awareness and coming into one’s own. Although Technique was recorded in Ibiza, if the lyrics of “All the Way” are taken at face value, New Order might have been ruminating about the trials that come with fame, rather than soaking up Vitamin D. —Katherine Logan

4. “Regret”
To hear Peter Hook tell it, this was the last great moment New Order had. That likely says more about his desire to reap the financial benefits of a hit single (No. 4 in the U.K. and No. 28 in the U.S.) than anything about the quality of the band’s work since. But it certainly is one of the last pure pop songs the group ever recorded. It’s as simple a sentiment as frontman Bernard Sumner has ever expressed in his engagingly flat timbre—someone looking back as he approaches middle age and being at complete peace with every false step and failed relationship that has happened along the way. And it’s all wrapped up with the bright bow of a jangling guitar line and a minor key synth line that swims through you like a sugar high. —Robert Ham

3. “Temptation”
By and large, I’m against the idea of bands re-recording songs from the past as history has proven that it rarely turns out to their advantage. But when New Order set about incentivizing people to buy Substance 1987, a compilation of their singles, they included two new versions of earlier songs. Both were dazzling. “Temptation” is the true revelation of the pair. The stiff edges of the original version (released in 1982) became pillowy and delectable like a perfect macaron. To it they added a wistfulness that expressed deeper aches than the romantic and sexual ones at the song’s core, especially in Bernard Sumner’s vocals which are changed from a Bowie in Berlin-like flatness into an open-hearted croon. The original article is perfectly fine but the true romantics go for the remake. —Robert Ham

2. “Ceremony”
The nerve that it took Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris to carry on following the suicide of their Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis still feels unbelievable some 30 years later. That they took their first few steps forward with a single featuring the last two songs the four men worked on together was a beautiful tribute to their tortured friend and an affirmation of the bond the surviving members still had. To truly appreciate that, it’s instructive to listen to the live version of “Ceremony” featured on the Joy Division compilation Still. That rendition is agitated and nervy, a small blast of internal agony. New Order’s take is resignation tempered with a small shot of hope brightening the edges. Through the music, they guess at Curtis’s pain, mirroring it as best they can with their own experiences and praying that he found some solace at the end. —Robert Ham

1. “Age of Consent”
The iconic opening bass line of “Age of Consent” makes the song immediately identifiable. “Age of Consent” is one of the band’s most commercially successful songs, despite the fact that it was never released as a single. It has also been featured in a variety of films and television shows, most notably in the trailer for Sofia Coppola’s 2008 film Marie Antoinette. The fact that it was so successful is surprising given the rebellious tone of the lyrics: “I’m not the kind that likes to tell you just what you want me to.” Yet, that edge mixed with danceability is what makes it a classic New Order song. —Katherine Logan

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