Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“Blue Monday” is feels too darn recent to be almost 40 years old. That may be due to the number of times it has been re-released, each time never outstaying the welcome the immediately discernible intro offers. Which is one of the problems, but we’ll get to that.
New Order, having emerged phoenix-like from the ashes of Joy Division and the suicide of frontman Ian Curtis, appeared to have hit the ground running with the iconic “Blue Monday.” But it was actually a year or two into their formation, 1983, earlier recordings having been more akin to the maudlin gloomcore of their earlier incarnation. Only after a wider exposure to techno and house music, along with the absorption of synthesist Gillian Gilbert into the band, did they have the conviction to fully embrace and add such textures to their existing sound.
“Blue Monday” epitomized where guitars and dance music might meet, making for a new breed of visceral electronica, with some organic frailty heightening the robotic artifice. The biggest selling 12″ single ever made, it remains a perpetual in the live repertoire on the still functioning band, who, according to setlist.fm, have played it 448 times in their 41 year history.
There are more covers of this song than you might expect. Broadly, they fall into two categories: the copycat, identifiable in seconds from the staccato drums, and the ambient acoustic deconstruction. They make up, between them, well over half the field available. The former seems sort of pointless and the latter, well… Much as I love that style, they are all a bit samey and a bit, given they are mostly Gallic in origin, vieux chapeau, which made the decision for me that they would not be included here. (Except, in passing, the one by Nouvelle Vague.)
No, I like my Blue Mondays to stand out. Like these five here…