The suicide of singer Ian Curtis tore the band Joy Division apart in 1980 but the surviving members of Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephan Morris soldiered on reforming as New Order then capitalizing on the post punk new wave movement of the 1980s.
New Order retained the dreary goth-like sound nearly perfected by Joy Division for their debut album before finding their path with a more upbeat synth melody while retaining some of the bleak overtones that encapsulated the Joy Division sound.
By the late 1980s, New Order was enjoying a wave of popularity thanks to “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “True Faith” which brought me onboard, but Republic, the band’s sixth album, pretty much embodied the Summer of 93 for me. I was hooked to their sound and New Order took a rare spot on my personal all-time favorite bands list.
New Order had unfortunate extended hiatuses and break-ups, that probably affected their popularity, but ensuing albums showed the band diversifying their sound and welcoming a more rock oriented approach. Hook, New Order’s original bassist left the band in 2007, but Sumner and Morris remain as well as Gillian Gilbert who joined as keyboardist in 1980, left in 1993, returned for three years after the band reunited in 1998 then came back in 2011.
This Best New Order Songs list has floated around in recent years but after they released the fantastic “Be a Rebel” I dived back into the New Order catalog and made some difficult decisions. I did not find much joy in the hopeless monotone sounds of the early years and as you’re read I narrowly left off Republic, a record I would rank near the top of a New Order Best Albums list.
Like most Top 10 Best Of Lists you read on Drew’s Reviews, I include the asterisk because a song I left off might rise to the top but if New Order releases a new album of material resembling “Be a Rebel” I will certainly make some big changes to this list. I also don’t list these in specific order except for the first one.
Best New Order Songs
- Be a Rebel – Single Release (2020)
Yep, I stand by this is a #1 pick because “Be a Rebel” is awesome. I’ve listened to it so many times now I need to set it aside before it gets old. The melody combines classic New Order synthesizer sound, with a delicate guitar chord bringing New Order right back into the thick of music.
- True Faith – Substance (1987)
Between “True Faith” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” I don’t know what captured my attention first but I do know friends in high school were fans and I wasn’t alone in my adoration. “True Faith” arrived on Substance, a singles compilation album and joined, in my opinion, “Bizarre Love Triangle” as an anthem of sorts for the band.
- Bizarre Love Triangle – Brotherhood (1986)
If you listen to 1996’s Brotherhood, “Bizarre Love Triangle” comes mid-album and almost out of nowhere. Melodically, it surpasses every other song on the album, and almost begins a new direction for the band. It moves, it grooves and flows like nothing else at this point New Order has released. Except for…
- Blue Monday – Single Release (1983)
New Order released “Blue Monday” in 1983 as a single but the song did appear on certain versions of their second album Power, Corruption & Lies. “Blue Monday” seemed to indicate where the band was headed melodically. An awesome repetitive percussion to start, the keyboards take it the rest of the way. Sumner brings old school New Order vocals to this one as I feel he developed more as a singer a few years later. New Order wrote “Blue Monday” to quell audience disappointment that they never returned to encore with the idea they would simply press “play” on a synthesizer and leave the stage.
- Regret – Republic (1993)
Republic has such a broad stroke of songs, very few I skip, probably more so than any other New Order album. Republic also has the nostalgia effect here and after initially leaving “Regret” and a few others off this list I returned and brought it on board. “Regret” with the opening guitar chord shows a pretty dramatic departure musically for New Order from prior releases and a new distinct feel even while the band kept some of the sombre undertones. If you can find the “Fire Island Mix” it doesn’t disappoint with a Billy Joel like piano dancing along the last few minutes.
- Vanishing Point – Technique (1989)
“Vanishing Point” edged out “Love Vigilantes” which got bumped by “Regret” if that helps indicate the difficulty in establishing this list. The first 90 seconds of “Vanishing Point” sets the stage with the evocative musical backdrop followed by some really doleful vocals from Sumner.
- Crystal – Get Ready (2001)
The opening track off 2001’s Get Ready New Order shows a move away from the heavy synthesizers that developed their sound in the 1980s towards a more upbeat and rock oriented feel. The near seven minute long “Crystal” moves quickly and incorporates a variety of structures giving it a vigorous tempo to the end.
- All the Way – Technique (1989)
How did this song get missed by the masses? Or at least radio stations. “All the Way” has viable competition on 1989’s Technique but with harmonies and sounds reminiscent of the Cure and Depeche Mode combined with a delectable melody, “All the Way” probably also ranks high on the list of New Order songs no one knew was recorded.
- Hellbent – Lost Sirens (2013)
An album that was lucky to see the light of day, Lost Sirens consists of eight songs recorded for 2005’s Waiting for the Siren’s Call and not released until 2013. Far from B-sides or remixes, Lost Sirens gives fans a strong dose of original material that includes “Hellbent” a rocker of a track that retains the essence of New Order with a 90s alternative rock feel.
- Hey Now What You’re Doing – Waiting for the Sirens’ Call (2005)
If Get Ready marked a new phase of the band’s musical lives as Peter Hook stated, 2005’s Waiting for the Sirens’ Call continues in this vein with an even more hard rock approach. So much guitar on this one, “Hey Now What You’re Doing” has a ripping Sumner solo to close this one out that any of the guitar heroes of 70s rock would be proud to carry.
I left off a lot of favorites and current radio staples, didn’t I? With a stop-and-go history, just 10 studio albums in 40 years, and a few not represented on this Best New Order Songs list, it sure tells you the strength of the New Order catalog.