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Music / New Order

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The classic line-up of New Order enjoying a cuppa. From left to right: Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert.

"How does it feel?
To treat me like you do.
When you've laid your hands upon me.
And told me who you are."
— "Blue Monday"

New Order are a New Wave Music/Post-Punk/Electronic Music/Alternative Rock band from Manchester, England. They were one of the more enduring and influential bands of the 1980s, and until its 1992 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," were one of just two electronically-oriented bands in the genre to achieve mainstream commercial success in both the US and UK without abandoning their alternative ethos (the other being Depeche Mode), and were wildly influential on later bands of the genre's pre-Nirvana days.

The group started on May 18, 1980, 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. Joy Division had an agreement that if any member left, for any reason, the band would break up. And it happened.


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 as a new band, 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. The band debuted anonymously on July 29, 1980, renaming themselves "New Order" the following year. After a slow start, with their first album Movement being criticized for a perceived lack of artistic progress post-Joy Division (particularly after their debut single "Ceremony"/"In a Lonely Place", which consisted of two leftover Joy Division songs that they had rehearsed but never formally recorded prior to Curtis's suicide), 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 (partly thanks to Curtis introducing his bandmates to Kraftwerk), New Order embraced them wholeheartedly, became pioneers of electronic dance music, and outright invented the Alternative Dance genre. 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 released. 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 and sometimes out of their own pockets.

For the 1990 World Cup, they recorded "World In Motion", that year's theme song for the English national football (soccer) team and their final release on Factory Records. To date, it is their only UK #1. Following Factory's bankruptcy two years later, the band signed onto London Records, who had previously attempted to buy out Factory in the lead-up to the bankruptcy, only to find out that none of the label's artists were actually signed onto them (meaning the musicians, not the label, were the legal owners of their music).

Following intense Creative Differences between Sumner and Hook as well as burnout from a lengthy United States tour, New Order went on hiatus in 1994, one year after the release of their record Republic (which spun off their last big hit, "Regret", which wound up being their biggest hit Stateside). In the meantime, the band members focused 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 (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 New Order to take another lengthy hiatus; whether or not it was a breakup is debated even between Hook and his bandmates.

After the split, Sumner and Cunningham formed a new band, Bad Lieutenant, with bassist Tom Chapman and guitarist Jake Evans. 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. In 2015, the band released their ninth studio album, Music Complete, on Mute Records. Since then, they've been continuously touring. Hook continues to tour with his solo band Peter Hook and The Light, which mainly plays Joy Division and New Order covers, including performances of full albums.

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 Marie Antoinette.

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 albums:

Extended Plays:

  • 1982 - 1981-1982note 
  • 1986 - The Peel Sessions 1982
  • 1987 - The Peel Sessions 1981
  • 2003 - The Peter Saville Show Soundtrack

Compilation albums:

  • 1987 - Substancenote 
  • 1994 - (the best of) NewOrdernote 
  • 2002 - Internationalnote 
  • 2002 - Retronote 
  • 2005 - Singlesnote 
  • 2007 - iTunes Originals - New Ordernote 
  • 2011 - Total: From Joy Division to New Ordernote 

Live albums:

  • 1990 - The Peel Sessionsnote 
  • 1992 - BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
  • 2011 - Live At The London Troxy
  • 2012 - Live At Bestival 2012

Remix albums:

  • 1995 - (the rest of) NewOrder
  • 2016 - Complete Music
  • 2017 - ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order + Liam Gillick: So It Goes..note 

Non-album singles:

  • 1981 - "Ceremony"/"In a Lonely Place"note 
  • 1981 - "Procession"/"Everything's Gone Green"
  • 1981 - "Everything's Gone Green"/"Cries and Whispers"/"Mesh"
  • 1982 - "Temptation"/"Hurt"
  • 1983 - "Blue Monday"/"The Beach"note 
  • 1983 - "Confusion"/various remixes
  • 1984 - "Thieves Like Us"/"Lonesome Tonight"
  • 1984 - "Murder"/Thieves Like Us Instrumental"
  • 1986 - "State of the Nation"/"Shame of the Nation"note 
  • 1988 - "Blue Monday 1988"/"Beach Buggy"
  • 1990 - "World in Motion"/various remixesnote 

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."
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: John Barnes' fist-gnawingly bad rap bridge in the middle of "World in Motion".
  • 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".
  • Alliterative Name: Gillian Gilbert
  • Alternative Dance: the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker.
  • Alternative Rock: One of the first bands to be grouped into the movement and one of the first to achieve mainstream commercial success, breaking through in the UK when R.E.M. were just starting to build a cult audience west of the Atlantic (though both wouldn't crack the US mainstream until 1987).
  • Anti-Love Song: Several, but particularly "1963", and of course "Blue Monday"
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The famous cover for the 12'' single of "Blue Monday" made to look like a 5¼'' floppy disc, which was so complex and expensive to make that Factory lost money on each copy sold. Factory switched to cheaper printed sleeves on later pressings of the single.
  • Badass Beard: One of Peter Hook's visual trademarks.
  • 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 '90s in an attempt to avoid this. Their shift to dance music was also an attempt to avert this trope, but it was going to happen at some point or another if Curtis had lived thanks to his love of Kraftwerk and desire to incorporate elements of their style into Joy Division's music.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: 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.
  • 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.
  • Break-Up Song: "Touched by the Hand of God". Music Complete can count as a breakup Concept Album.
  • 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 & 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.
    • "Way of Life" from Brotherhood quotes "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
  • 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 the band playing live in the studio, as they refused to lip-sync until the '90s.
    • "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.
  • Control Freak: Bernard Sumner - according to Peter Hook anyway - especially in the later years. One of the leading causes of the band's breakup was the escalating Creative Differences between Sumner and Hook and by the time of recording Waiting for the Sirens' Call and Lost Sirens they couldn't stand each other.
  • 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 vs. 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter Hook in spades. As time went by he became more and more of a Snark Knight.
  • Doorstopper: Peter Hook's memoir of the band Substance: Inside New Order is 768 pages long.
  • The '80s: One of the pioneers of the alternative rock movement, mixing post-punk and dance music.
  • '80s Hair: "Touched By The hand of God" Had the band dressed like a glam metal band, so everyone wore wigs like this, except Gillian who was already guilty.
  • 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: Many of their songs are fairly long. "Blue Monday" is seven and a half minutes, for example, and it's still their best-known song.The full version of "Elegia" clocks in at 17 minutes.
    • "Prime 5 8 6" is even longer at over 22 minutes. It was made primarily to be played at The Haçienda and only released on an obscure cassette tape compilation in 1982, but was renamed "Video 5 8 6" and re-released as a single in 1997. Elements of this track would later be cannibalized into "5 8 6", "Ultraviolence", and "Blue Monday".
  • Face on the Cover: Low-Life features a portrait of Stephen Morris on the cover, an exception to the band's albums not having any pictures of the members. The back cover and inner sleeve had portraits of the rest of the band members. Interestingly, all four of these portraits were large removable cards fitted in tracing paper sleeves, meaning that one could take out and rearrange the portraits to put any member of choice on the front cover; the CD release replicates this by using a paper gatefold that can be refolded and repositioned in the transparent jewel case in various ways to place a certain member in front.
  • Four More Measures: Most notably in "Vanishing Point" and "Perfect Kiss".
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Of the original lineup:
    • Sanguine – Stephen Morris; very talkative with a silly sense of humour. Often the one talking the most during interviews.
    • Choleric – Peter Hook; Tall, Dark, and Snarky and lived up the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle the most out of all of them. Became a Sour Supporter after he got sober.
    • Melancholic – Bernard Sumner; soft spoken and sometimes moody. Mutual perfectionism and stubbornness contributed to escalating tension between him and Hook.
    • Phlegmatic – Gillian Gilbert; very much The Quiet One. Sparsely ever speaks during interviews and in general doesn’t attempt to stand out overmuch.
    • This is probably best exemplified in this interview they did in ’83.
  • 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)".
  • Gratuitous Panning: The album version of "The Perfect Kiss" and "Fine Time" pull this off a little ways in.
  • 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.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bernard and Stephen, who have been performing together (bar two brief hiatuses) since 1976.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Probably. Ian Curtis was a huge fan of Kraftwerk and there's a significant amount of evidence to suggest that if he had lived, Joy Division still would have turned into New Order from a musical standpoint.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Age Of Consent".
  • In the Style of...:
    • "Sunrise" is obviously a pastiche of The Cure.
    • "Times Change" is a noticeable pastiche of Pet Shop Boys.
  • Lead Bassist: Peter Hook's distinctive bass is very prominent. Hook was forced to get more creative when the band started incorporating bass synthesizers into their music; occasionally playing the bass like a guitar (he even had a 6-string bass for some songs). He's also the most physically animated member of the band live, swinging his bass like a weapon.
  • 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 & Lies was the first full-length where they fully switched into their trademark electropop sound.
    • Technique, which put them in line with the spirit of the times (namely, the emergent Madchester scene and the House Music boom).
    • Get Ready, which shifted the band's direction to a more guitar-driven one rooted in the post-Nirvana age of Alternative Rock.
    • Music Complete, which brought the band back to their signature brand of Alternative Dance and modernized it for The New '10s.
  • 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. Stephen Morris admitted that the band missed a trick by not having the cassette version end with the tape being jammed or chewed up or the CD version end with it skipping.
  • 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.
  • Remix Album: Complete Music, a remixed and extended version of Music Complete. Some tracks are just longer versions of the originals, while others sound significantly different.
    • 1994's (the rest of) NewOrder, a companion piece to the previous year's Greatest Hits, (the best of) NewOrder, which compiled several remixes of various New Order songs from throughout their career up to that point. Seven of the remixes ("Blue Monday", "Confusion", "Touched By The Hand Of God", "Bizarre Love Triangle", "Age Of Consent", "Temptation" and "Everything's Gone Green") were newly created for the album, while the rest ("Spooky", "Regret", "True Faith", "Ruined In A Day" and "World") were older remixes.
  • Reviewer Standard Comparisons: Just about any indie band with dance leanings is compared to New Order, if not to Talking Heads or LCD Soundsystem.
  • 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.
  • Special Guest: David Hasselhoff appeared in their Top of the Pops performance of "Regret". Appropriate given the band played on the same beach Baywatch was filmed.
  • Speedy Techno Remake: Several 12"-single remixes, b-sides, and later, most tracks on CD-MAXIs.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • To Joy Division.
    • The Singles compilation seems intended to be one to Substance, with cover artwork that calls back to that of "True Faith", Substance's lead single, and a focus on the band's singles. However, the former draws from the band's 7-inch singles rather than the 12-inch versions that Substance uses and covers the band's post-1987 singles.
  • 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.
  • 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!: They issued one to Michael Jackson during a 1993 performance of "New Faith" that coincided with the initial wave of sexual abuse allegations against him, by altering the song's lyrics.
    • "When I was a very small boy, Michael Jackson played with me. Now that we've grown up together, he's playing with my woody."
  • 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."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The band's original deal with Factory meant that they owned their back catalog instead of the label, which sank a proposed deal for London Records to acquire Factory and thus sank Factory itself.
  • Updated Re-release: The 2016 rerelease of Singles replaced some tracks, added the song "I'll Stay with You" from Lost Sirens and fixed initial compression issues with the mastering.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: An inversion averted with performances of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", a song from back in their days with Ian Curtis. Sumner's tenor wouldn't pull off Curtis' lower notes in the song too well, so they raise the key.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Sums up the relationship between Peter Hook and the rest of the band post-2011 reunion, especially Bernard Sumner.
  • 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").


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