New Order are a New Wave/Post-Punk/Electro/Alternative band from Manchester, England. They were one of the more enduring and influential bands of the 1980s, and until its bankruptcy, one of the flagship bands for Tony Wilson's Factory Records label. They were among the first bands to be branded with the genre of "Alternative Rock
" and were wildly influential on later bands of the genre's pre-Nirvana
The group started when Joy Division
's frontman and Face of the Band
Ian Curtis killed himself
on the eve of the group's first tour of America.
Wishing to continue their music careers, but honor Curtis' memory by avoiding The Band Minus the Face
, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris reorganized and renamed the band as New Order, with Sumner taking over lead vocals, Morris's girlfriend (and later wife) Gillian Gilbert joining on guitar and keyboards, and everybody in the band taking up keyboard, sequencing and programming duties. After a slow start, including first single "Ceremony"/"In A Lonely Place" being two leftover Joy Division songs and their first album Movement
sounding like they were trying to be Joy Division and failing, the band shifted their music towards the dance/electronica sound which would become their trademark.
While Joy Division had been one of the first punk-influenced bands to make prominent use of synthesizers and drum machines (and Ian Curtis introduced the rest of the band to Kraftwerk
), New Order embraced them wholeheartedly, and became pioneers of electronic dance music. Their 1983 single "Blue Monday" stayed several months on the UK Top 40, peaking at number 5, and remains the best-selling 12" single ever. With Wilson, they founded the UK's iconic first New York-style super-nightclub, The Haçienda, which for much of its existence was kept afloat by the band's record sales.
For the 1990 World Cup
, they recorded "World In Motion", that year's theme song for the English national football (soccer) team. To date it is their only UK #1.
New Order went on hiatus in 1994 after the release of their record Republic
(which spun off their last big hit, "Regret" - which wound up being their biggest hit Stateside), with the band focusing on side projects (Sumner in Electronic with Johnny Marr of The Smiths
, Hook in Revenge and later Monaco, and Morris and Gilbert as The Other Two). They reunited in 1998 and released two more albums, plus some soundtrack work and multiple best-of compilations. In 2005, Gilbert retired to rear her and Morris' children (and more specifically their daughter, who had fallen ill) and was replaced by Phil Cunningham. In 2007, Peter Hook left the band, which, in late 2008 led to the demise of New Order.
Sumner and Cunningham are still performing together, with bassist Tom Chapman and guitarist Jake Evans, under the name Bad Lieutenant. Their debut album Never Cry Another Tear
was released in September 2009, preceded by a single, "Sink or Swim". The album featured Stephen Morris on a handful of tracks, but he is not a full member of Bad Lieutenant. blur
bassist Alex James also appears on a handful of tracks on the album as well.
In 2011, New Order reformed with the lineup of Sumner, Morris, Gilbert, Cunningham and Bad Lieutenant bassist Tom Chapman replacing the still-estranged Hook. The reformed band has performed at several festivals throughout 2011 and 2012.
The band are portrayed by actors in the movies 24 Hour Party People
(about Factory Records) and Control
(a biopic of Curtis) (In both of these films, the actress playing Gillian Gilbert has no lines and is only seen in one scene in both films). They collaborated with The Chemical Brothers on an original song for the former, and composed the score for the latter. The band also wrote the score for Salvation!
, a 1987 televangelism spoof starring punk singer Exene Cervenka. Their music has also featured prominently in several other movies, including Pretty In Pink
, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting
and The Beach
, the first Blade
movie, and Sofia Coppola's MarieAntoinette
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic)
- Tom Chapman - bass, synthesizer (2011-Present)
- Phil Cunningham - synthesizer, guitar, drums (2001-2007, 2011-Present)
- Gillian Gilbert - synthesizer, guitar, vocals, keyboard (1980–1993, 1998–2001, 2011–Present)
- Peter Hook - bass, backing and lead vocals, percussion, synthesizer (1980-1993, 1998-2007)
- Stephen Morris - drums, percussion, synthesizer (1980-1993, 1998-2007, 2011-Present)
- Bernard Sumner - lead vocals, guitar, melodica, synthesizer, percussion (1980-1993, 1998-2007, 2011-Present)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1981 - Movement
- 1982 - 1981-1982
- 1983 - Power, Corruption And Lies
- 1985 - Low-Life
- 1986 - Brotherhood
- 1989 - Technique
- 1990 - The Peel Sessions
- 1992 - BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
- 1993 - Republic
- 2001 - Get Ready
- 2003 - The Peter Saville Show Soundtrack
- 2005 - Waiting For The Sirens' Call
- 2011 - Live At The London Troxy
- 2012 - Live At Bestival 2012
- 2013 - Lost Sirens
Tropes Used by the Band:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "The Perfect Kiss": "Tonight I should have stayed at home, playing with my pleasure zone."
- Album Title Drop: Low-Life, via a piece of sampled speech between tracks.
- Movement, in "Dreams Never End" ("A simple movement or rhyme...").
- Technique, in "Fine Time".
- Alternative Dance: the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker.
- Anti-Love Song: Several, but particularly "1963", and of course "Blue Monday"
- Badass: Peter Hook certainly tries to be one with his hammy poses and Badass Beard.
- The Band Minus the Face: To an extent, Joy Division minus Ian Curtis. They refused to play any Joy Division songs in concert until The Nineties in an attempt to avoid this. Their shift to dance music was also an attempt to avert this trope.
- The Big Rotten Apple/Unintentional Period Piece: The video for "Confusion" shows 1983 New York City in all its glory: subway cars scrawled with graffiti and a Times Square full of porno theatres.
- Black Comedy: The band in the New Order Story documentary said that Ian Curtis was the laziest member of the band because he hadn't done anything in 13 years.
- Black Sheep Hit: "Confusion", a disco-style 1983 single made with Arthur Baker in New York, tends to be forgotten (though it sold well in the UK off the back of "Blue Monday"), but it turned up in a documentary on Factory Records illustrating the band's shift from post-punk to dance music, and was used in the 1996 film Trainspotting
- Bowdlerise: The band was convinced to change a line from "True Faith" to remove a drug reference by co-producer Stephen Hague, who was worried that it would not get played on the radio. However, in live performances they use the original line ("They're all taking drugs with me") instead of the sanitized one ("They're afraid of what they see").
- At the 1993 Reading Festival, Sumner changed the lyrics to "When I was a very small boy, Michael Jackson played with me. Now that we've grown up together, he's playing with my willy". While the widely available soundboard bootleg muted that part out, there's always someone with a camera.
- Boxed Set: 2002's Retro.
- Breakaway Pop Hit: "Touched by the Hand of God" is much better known than the movie it was written for, Salvation!.
- Breakup Song: "Touched by the Hand of God".
- British Brevity: The band's sets are notoriously short, clocking in at around an hour well after becoming superstars.
- Call Back: "Leave Me Alone", from Power, Corruption And Lies, uses the same chord progression (on bass, at least) as "Shadowplay" from Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, albeit in a different key and slowed down a little.
- Canon Discontinuity: For many years, the band refused to play any Joy Division songs, wanting to avoid comparisons between them and their former band. They later started doing songs like "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in concert.
- The Chick: Gillian Gilbert. She turned out to be the secret pop genius of the band (she wrote most of "World In Motion") and her synths were an extremely important part of the band's sound.
- And she still doesn't get any exposure in 24 Hour Party People or Control....except for one line in a deleted scene.
- In the band's entire career, she has provided vocals on exactly four of their songs: backing vocals on "Procession" and "Confusion", lead vocals on "Avalanche" (where she only sings the word "faith"), and a spoken background on "Doubts Even Here".
- Changed For The Video: New Order were infamous for releasing remixed, extended, radio edit, and updated versions of their songs and songs from their previous band incarnation Joy Division. The video for "The Perfect Kiss" featured what sounds like an alternate studio version of the "Substance" album version.
- "Run" was remixed by Scott Litt and issued as a single named "Run 2". This version is more electronic than the Jangle Pop original, and omits the guitar break, as the band had been sued by John Denver's publishing company for the break sounding too similar to "Leaving on a Jet Plane". (The case was ultimately settled out of court, and the song has since been credited to New Order and John Denver.)
- Concept Video: Many were experimental art videos by notable artists and filmmakers, often done with the band giving the directors free rein in filming material that would be mixed in with performance footage of the band.
- Continuity Nod: The NewOrder Story documentary included some Joy Division songs and the band played some of their earlier incarnation's songs, such as "She's Lost Control", "Transmission", and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" at their later live shows.
- Corpsing: Bernard does this on the line "I think you are a pig, you should be in a zoo," in "Every Little Counts."
- Darker and Edgier: They have moments where they're more so than most Synth Pop groups, mainly from Lyrical Dissonance but they also have plenty of catchy upbeat melodies and danceable rhythms, not to mention sunny, jangly guitar-driven pop songs like "Run" and "Age of Consent". It's probably more accurate to say they jump all over the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness.
- Dead All Along: One interpretation of "Love Vigilantes".
- Dead Artists Are Better: Tend to be overshadowed by Ian Curtis and their former life as Joy Division, despite producing many more hit singles and making many more albums.
- The Eighties: One of the pioneers of the alternative rock movement, mixing post-punk and dance music.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "5 8 6" could be mistaken for a funk instrumental until the Song Style Shift and vocals start near the 2.5 minute mark.
- Epic Rocking: The full version of Elegia clocks in at 17 minutes.
- Follow the Leader: If Victoria 'Little Boots' Hesketh hasn't been listening to "Face Up", "The Village" and "The Perfect Kiss" then I will eat my shoes.
- Similarly one can argue that the whole alternative dance genre, from the band's label mates Happy Mondays up through recent bands like Kasabian, have basically been making careers out of essentially ripping off New Order to various degrees.
- As the Rolling Stone Album Guide puts it: "Everyone stole from New Order, and everyone's music improved as a result."
- Four More Measures: Most notably in "Vanishing Point" and "Perfect Kiss".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Averted by Executive Meddling in the case of "World In Motion", which the band originally wanted to call "E For England". The Football Association were perfectly well aware of what they were implying and nixed the idea.
- Gratuitous Japanese: "Krafty (Japanese Version)".
- Greatest Hits Album: Four of them: Substance 1987, (the best of) NewOrder, International and Singles.
- Happily Married: Stephen and Gillian.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used throughout "Guilt is a Useless Emotion", and most audible at the beginning and end of the song.
- Intentionally Awkward Title: "Age Of Consent".
- In the Style of...: "Sunrise" is obviously a pastiche of The Cure.
- Lighter and Softer: The band became lighter and less depressing than Joy Division, and more poppy as well. But much of the angst still remained.
- Long Runner Line Up: Type 1 from 1981 to 1994; if extended to 2005, it's a Type 4.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Dance-synthpop with dark, haunting lyrics about alienation.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: it helps to have the style's main perpetrator, Peter Saville, as your label's in-house designer, allowed to do anything he wants on hit records.
- New Wave: A good deal of their songs.
- New Sound Album: Power, Corruption And Lies was the first full-length where they fully switched into their trademark electropop sound.
- Also, Technique, which put them in line with the spirit of the times (namely, the emergent Madchester scene and the House Music boom).
- Non-Appearing Title: It would be easier to list the pre-Republic songs that were not examples of this than the ones that were, with the latter including major hits like "Blue Monday", "Age of Consent", "Bizarre Love Triangle" and "True Faith". These continue to appear in more recent work, but less frequently.
- The Oner: The video for "World (The Price Of Love)".
- Oop North: Being from Manchester and Salford. Their club was vital in launching the late-80s "Madchester" scene as well.
- Performance Video: "The Perfect Kiss", which was directed by famed director Jonathan Demme.
- "Touched By The Hand Of God", a parody of hair metal videos, directed by future Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow.
- Some metal fans went to see New Order after seeing the video and demanded their money back. This might say more about the state of heavy metal music in the late '80s than it does about the band.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Sumner's vocals can be roughly summed up as "Dull Surprise".
- Rearrange the Song: Several of their singles have been re-released in multiple edits, and labeled as such by the year of their release ("Temptation '87", "Confusion '87", "Blue Monday '88", "Temptation '98", etc.). Most confusingly, 1994's 'The Best of New Order' includes "1963 94" a remake of a 1987 B-Side, actually released as a single (remixed again) in January 1995,
- Record Needle Scratch: "Every Little Counts," and the Brotherhood album with it, ends with one.
- Refrain from Assuming: The song is not "How Does It Feel?" or "I Thought I Was Mistaken" but "Blue Monday."
- Thanks to their fondness for Non Appearing Titles, other potential examples are too numerous to list here.
- Rule of Cool: The froggy sounds appearing in The Perfect Kiss were included for that reason.
- Silly Love Songs: "Temptation" probably being the best of these. Also somewhat subverted, as they wrote nearly as many Anti Love Songs.
- Speedy Techno Remake: Several 12"-single remixes, b-sides, and later, most tracks on CD-MAXIs.
- Spiritual Successor: To Joy Division.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Peter Hook sings lead vocals on "Dreams Never End" and "Doubts Even Here" from Movement. Gillian Gilbert also has a spoken word line along with Sumner in the latter song.
- Stop and Go: "Fine Time", "The Him"
- Synth Pop: Arguably the majority of their songs.
- Surreal Music Video: "True Faith", oh so much. It's the first example on the trope page.
- The Faceless: Subverted; because the band shunned the media and purposely used non-band photo images for most of their releases, the group developed a reputation as being camera shy. Ironically the band does appear in just about all of their videos ("Round and Round" and "Fine Time" being the most notable ones where they are not shown on-camera), plus head-shot photos on the sleeve of their 1985 album Lowlife (as a "Take That" to the writers who deemed them "The Faceless").
- Don't forget about the video for Crystal where a different "band" called The Killers perform in their place.
- Take That, Critics!: The final line of "Your Silent Face", "why don't you piss off?", was directed to critics who panned the group's first album (Movement) and considered them to be miserabilists in the vein of Joy Division.
- "Round and Round"; what started as Bernard Sumner singing about his ex-wife quickly morphed into a song about his disdain for Tony Wilson, who by 1988 was on the outs with the group.
- The Bluebeard: The general plot for the song "1963".
- Triang Relations: "Bizarre Love Triangle."
- Who Shot JFK?: In the book New Order Music 1981-89, Sumner presents a humorous interpretation of "1963" based on this trope, claiming that Kennedy had arranged for Oswald to kill his wife so that he could be with Marilyn Monroe, Monroe committed suicide after Oswald botched the assassination, and Oswald was killed by his boss for being such an incompetent hitman that his "hit-man business went bust".
- Word Salad Lyrics: Some of their lyrics were written by all members, Round Robin-style (this is supposedly why "I think you are a pig/you should be in a zoo" is in "Every Little Counts").