New Order: Pioneers of Electronic Music and the 12″
New Order: Pioneers of Electronic Music and the 12″

New Order: Pioneers of Electronic Music and the 12″

In the ever-evolving landscape of music, certain bands stand as pioneers, pushing boundaries and reshaping genres. New Order is one such band that has left an indelible mark on the music world since its formation in the early 1980s. From their roots in post-punk to their innovative embrace of electronic dance music, this article delves into the history and development, the type of music they produce, key personnel, essential albums, top tracks, a comprehensive discography, their lasting legacy, and significant reviews.

History and Development

New Order’s story begins as a continuation of another influential band, Joy Division. Formed in Manchester, England, Joy Division had a brief but powerful career marked by their distinctive blend of post-punk and dark, introspective lyrics. The band comprised Ian Curtis as the lead vocalist, Bernard Sumner on guitar and keyboards, Peter Hook on bass, and Stephen Morris on drums.

However, tragedy struck in 1980 when Joy Division’s lead singer, Ian Curtis, took his own life, casting a shadow over the band’s future. The surviving members—Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris—faced a difficult decision: disband or carry on.

Opting for the latter, they rebranded themselves as New Order and embarked on a new musical journey. This transition was marked by a shift from the haunting, melancholic sound of Joy Division to a more electronic and dance-oriented approach. They chose the name “New Order” to symbolize a fresh start and a departure from their past.

New Order’s first steps into this new direction were marked by a pioneering single, “Ceremony” (1981), which retained some of their previous sound while hinting at the electronic future. Their debut album, “Movement” (1981), served as a bridge between Joy Division and the electronic sound they would later become famous for. It was a raw and emotional record, grappling with their grief over Ian Curtis’s death.

The Emergence of a Unique Sound

As the 1980s progressed, New Order fully embraced electronic instruments and dance-oriented rhythms. Albums like “Power, Corruption & Lies” (1983) and “Low-Life” (1985) saw the band incorporating synthesizers and drum machines into their repertoire, ushering in a new era of electronic dance music.

One of the defining moments in New Order’s history came with the release of “Blue Monday” in 1983. The single, with its iconic Peter Saville-designed cover, became an instant classic and remains the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. Its infectious beats, memorable bassline, and cryptic lyrics captured the essence of the emerging electronic dance scene.

The band’s evolution continued with “Brotherhood” (1986) and “Technique” (1989), albums that showcased their growing confidence in electronic production. “Bizarre Love Triangle” from “Brotherhood” and “Fine Time” from “Technique” were among the tracks that exemplified New Order’s knack for creating dancefloor anthems.

Key Personnel

New Order’s lineup has remained remarkably consistent over the years, with key personnel including:

  • Bernard Sumner: The band’s frontman, guitarist, and vocalist. Sumner’s distinctive voice and songwriting have been central to New Order’s sound.
  • Peter Hook: Known for his distinctive bass lines, Hook’s playing style is instantly recognizable and contributed significantly to the band’s early sound.
  • Stephen Morris: The drummer and percussionist, Morris’s rhythmic skills have been a driving force behind New Order’s dance-oriented tracks.
  • Gillian Gilbert: After joining the band in 1981, Gilbert became an integral part of the group, contributing keyboards and guitars.

The synergy among these core members allowed New Order to explore new musical territories and continually reinvent themselves while maintaining a cohesive identity.

Essential Albums

New Order’s discography is rich and varied, but a few albums stand out as essential listening for both die-hard fans and newcomers:

  1. “Power, Corruption & Lies” (1983): This album is a watershed moment in the band’s evolution, featuring iconic tracks like “Blue Monday” and “Age of Consent.” It firmly established New Order as pioneers of electronic dance music.
  2. “Low-Life” (1985): Known for its blend of melancholy and danceable tracks, this album includes classics like “Love Vigilantes” and “The Perfect Kiss.”
  3. “Technique” (1989): A celebration of the emerging rave culture, “Technique” is a vibrant album filled with infectious dance beats and memorable hooks.
  4. “Republic” (1993): A more guitar-driven album, “Republic” features the hit single “Regret” and showcases the band’s ability to adapt to changing musical landscapes.
  5. “Music Complete” (2015): This album, released decades into their career, demonstrates that New Order still has plenty to offer. It’s a modern take on their classic sound, with tracks like “Restless” and “Plastic.”

Essential Tracks

While New Order’s albums are fantastic as a whole, their discography is also peppered with standout tracks that have left an indelible mark on music history. Some essential tracks to explore include:

  1. “Blue Monday” (1983): A groundbreaking track that revolutionized electronic music and remains one of the best-selling 12-inch singles of all time.
  2. “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986): A synth-pop classic with an infectious melody and unforgettable chorus.
  3. “True Faith” (1987): A dancefloor anthem with emotionally charged lyrics and a catchy beat.
  4. “Temptation” (1982): An early New Order hit featuring their signature blend of post-punk and electronic elements.
  5. “Age of Consent” (1983): Known for its memorable guitar riff and Sumner’s emotive vocals.
  6. “Ceremony” (1981): A transitional track from their Joy Division days to New Order’s electronic sound.
  7. “The Perfect Kiss” (1985): A synth-driven gem with intricate instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics.
  8. “Regret” (1993): A radio-friendly hit from the “Republic” album, showcasing their evolving sound.
  9. “Love Vigilantes” (1985): A song that combines New Order’s trademark melancholy with a danceable groove.
  10. “1963” (1995): A tribute to the British Invasion, this track features a catchy melody and lyrical references to that era.
  11. “Leave Me Alone” (1983): A lesser-known but highly infectious track with an upbeat tempo.
  12. “Your Silent Face” (1983): A synth-driven instrumental that captures the band’s early electronic experimentation.
  13. “Crystal” (2001): A modern New Order classic with a memorable guitar riff and infectious chorus.
  14. “Elegia” (1985): An atmospheric instrumental that showcases the band’s mastery of electronic textures.
  15. “World” (1993): A danceable track with a catchy hook from the “Republic” album.
  16. “Shellshock” (1986): Known for its appearance on the “Pretty in Pink” soundtrack, it’s a quintessential 1980s synth-pop song.
  17. “Vanishing Point” (1989): A track that captures the spirit of late 1980s dance music.
  18. “Turn” (2005): A standout track from the “Waiting for the Sirens’ Call” album with a catchy chorus.
  19. “Restless” (2015): A more recent track that demonstrates New Order’s continued relevance and innovation.
  20. “Plastic” (2015): Another highlight from the “Music Complete” album, featuring their signature electronic sound.


New Order’s extensive discography includes studio albums, live recordings, compilations, and more. Here’s a comprehensive list of their studio albums:

  1. Movement” (1981)
  2. “Power, Corruption & Lies” (1983)
  3. “Low-Life” (1985)
  4. “Brotherhood” (1986)
  5. “Technique” (1989)
  6. “Republic” (1993)
  7. “Get Ready” (2001)
  8. “Waiting for the Sirens’ Call” (2005)
  9. “Lost Sirens” (2013)
  10. “Music Complete” (2015)

These albums showcase the band’s evolution over the years, with each offering a unique sonic experience.

New Order Legacy

New Order’s impact on the music industry is immeasurable. They played a pivotal role in shaping the electronic dance music genre, inspiring countless artists and DJs. Their willingness to experiment with new sounds and technologies opened doors for innovation in music production.

Moreover, their iconic track “Blue Monday” holds the record for the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. It remains a staple in dance clubs worldwide, a testament to the enduring appeal of their music.

Beyond their musical contributions, New Order’s influence extends to visual arts and design. The band’s collaboration with designer Peter Saville resulted in iconic album covers and artwork that became synonymous with their music.

New Order’s unique blend of post-punk and electronic dance music has influenced and inspired numerous bands and artists over the years. If you’re a fan of New Order and looking for similar or inspired acts to explore, here are some noteworthy bands and musicians:

  1. Depeche Mode: Known for their synth-pop and darkwave sound, Depeche Mode is often associated with New Order due to their shared electronic and new wave influences. Tracks like “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus” exemplify their signature style.
  2. The Pet Shop Boys: This British duo, comprised of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, combines pop, synth-pop, and electronic elements. Their songwriting and production style have parallels to New Order, with hits like “West End Girls” and “Always on My Mind.”
  3. Electronic: An actual side project featuring New Order’s Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Electronic released albums in the early 1990s. Their music combines alternative rock and electronic elements, creating a sound reminiscent of both bands.
  4. LCD Soundsystem: Led by James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem draws inspiration from the post-punk and electronic genres, blending them with a modern, dance-oriented approach. Songs like “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Someone Great” capture their innovative sound.
  5. Hot Chip: This British electronic band incorporates pop, funk, and dance elements into their music, resulting in a sound that shares some common ground with New Order. Tracks like “Over and Over” and “Ready for the Floor” showcase their eclectic style.
  6. OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark): OMD’s synth-pop and electronic music, especially their early work in the 1980s, aligns with the same era that saw New Order’s rise. Songs like “Enola Gay” and “Electricity” are classic examples of their sound.
  7. The Chemical Brothers: Known for their electronic and big beat sound, The Chemical Brothers have created music with a danceable edge similar to New Order. Tracks like “Block Rockin’ Beats” and “Hey Boy Hey Girl” have become electronic dance classics.
  8. Underworld: This electronic music duo is recognized for their pioneering work in the techno and trance genres. Songs like “Born Slippy .NUXX” and “Rez” have had a lasting impact on electronic dance music.
  9. Joy Division: As New Order’s predecessor, Joy Division’s post-punk sound heavily influenced the band’s evolution. If you appreciate New Order, exploring Joy Division’s discography, including tracks like “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” can provide insight into their roots.
  10. The Human League: Another influential synth-pop band from the 1980s, The Human League’s hits like “Don’t You Want Me” and “Human” share common elements with New Order’s electronic sound.
  11. Blur: Although primarily known for their Britpop sound, Blur experimented with electronic music in albums like “13.” Tracks like “Beetlebum” demonstrate this fusion of genres.
  12. Gorillaz: Created by Damon Albarn of Blur and artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz incorporate a wide range of musical styles, including electronic elements. Songs like “Feel Good Inc.” and “Clint Eastwood” showcase their genre-blending approach.

These bands and artists offer a diverse range of sounds, each with its unique take on the fusion of electronic and alternative music. Exploring their discographies can provide a broader perspective on the musical landscape influenced by New Order.

Significant Reviews

New Order’s music has been critically acclaimed throughout their career. Here are some notable reviews from the music press:

  • “Power, Corruption & Lies” (1983): NME called it “a landmark album in the evolution of electronic music, pushing boundaries and reinventing pop.”
  • “Technique” (1989): Rolling Stone praised it as “a euphoric masterpiece, blending rock sensibilities with dancefloor-ready beats.”
  • “Music Complete” (2015): The Guardian hailed it as “a triumphant return to form, proving that New Order is as relevant as ever.”

These reviews underscore the band’s ability to consistently deliver innovative and influential music that resonates with both critics and fans.

In conclusion, New Order’s journey through the music industry is a testament to their enduring creativity and adaptability. From the post-punk roots of Joy Division to becoming pioneers of electronic dance music, their influence on the music world is undeniable. With essential albums, timeless tracks, and a lasting legacy, New Order’s contribution to music continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the globe.

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