Blue Monday, colour for a New Order
Comparison between the 1983 and the 1985 video clips of the hit single Blue Monday by New Order
New order is a name used to refer to an English rock band established in 1980 Manchester in England. The group consists of three founding members and two newer members. Founding members of the group include Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner and Gilbert Gillian. Newer group members include Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham. This band entails members who sing songs in the genres of electronic, new wave, alternative dance, dance-rock, post-punk and synthpop. In its early stages of foundation, it comprised of Sumner as a synthesiser, vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist, a former band member called Peter Hook proficient in bass and vocals, and Morris who was skilled in keyboards, synthesisers, drums and electronic drums. The remaining members participated as a post-punk team called Joy Division in addition to Gilbert who was a guitarist, keyboardist and synthesiser. Initially shadowed by the founded legacy of Joy Division, they enhanced their capabilities in dance music from the early 1980’s New York City club performances. Consequently, they incorporated the elements in the bands’ 1983 hit titled Blue Monday. The song emerged as the best selling 12-inch hit single of all times. The song marked the origin of the bands’ sound in upbeat and electronic. This essay gives a comparison between the 1983 and the 1985 video clips of the hit single Blue Monday by New Order based on the representation of each colour used in the clip to the group.
The 1983 Blue Monday audio begins with an introduction of a unique semiquaver kick drum. This scene is followed by that of Gilbert Gillian who fades in an evident sequencer melody (Strangeman 1). The band managed to create a happy accident in a move to contribute to the track’s charm where Gilbert’s melody and the beat resonate out of sync. The section of the verses presents a signature of the song that throbs synth bass lines instrumented by Moog Source. Peter Hook’s bass from the guitar leads Moog’s bass lines. A home built Powertran Sequencer does the task of sequencing the synth bass lines. Bernard Sumner presents lyrics in a deadpan manner. The band separated the verses with the help of sound effects.
The music video for the song shot in 1983 features compiled military clips with false colours. It is created with a series of graphics of different colours generated by a computer. Some of the graphics include colour blocks, frame rate, digitised clips of members of the band at low resolutions, coloured geometric lines and an appearance of a game called Zaxxon. New Order created coloured blocks in the clip with the help of colour-coded alphabets designed by Peter Saville.
The clip portrays peoples ancient prejudices towards colours based on their historical background. At the time, individuals perceived colour as corrupting and superficial. The clip presents the reasons for colour aversion based on cultures. It explains people’s phobia towards colours based on traumatizing moments during their childhood. The clip features individuals being whipped with probable discrimination against colour (Fruscalso 1). Fading scenes of militias landing for an operation are evident in dark hours of the night. Black and greyish objects in the video turn out to be explosives. Red is evident in the clip as a result of an explosion. The absence of clear white colours depict the existent disharmony with colours at the time. The clip presents an existent relation between drug abuse and colours by associating dark colours with the loss of consciousness and intoxication.
The band wrote the song during their early stages of development in the music industry. Their rehearsal room had a graveyard at the back revealing the deaths that had been experienced in the previous years. Black colours in the clip represent scenarios of awful occurrences. Blue Monday refers to a hangover state at work after a weekend of drinking. Colour blue signifies a depressed state of mind. The songs title is in relation to the experiences at the time. Sumner, a guitarist who wrote the lyrics was coping to being with other members of the band under the influence of a hallucinogen called LSD. Consistent fading blue colours in this clip represent a state of depression from drugs and broken relationships from death.
All members of the band were sad and depressed out of shock from the death of Ian Curtis. A consideration of this depression played a role in adding diminishing colour content to the clip. The response from the public at the time of need was negative and full of aggression. This situation added a lot of anger to their state. The war video games in the clip represented the existent cold war that was at its peak at the time. The cold war entailed military and political tension between powers in Eastern and Western Bloc after World War II. The game also represents people’s chromophobic attitude towards colours as a result of their previous experiences during World War II.
The clip contains black and white artworks of diverse portraits due to the inspiration of Cindy Sherman. Cindy influenced artists’ thoughts regarding portraiture, identity, photography and narrative. She had portraits that enacted female clichés in the pop culture. After performing in New York club for a couple of years, the band gained a lot of knowledge and experience on expectations of the pop culture industry. They also leant a lot from culture clubs and other pop musicians that emerged at the time. With the inevitable advancement in art and technological equipment, the band focussed on embracing their ancient culture by including artworks drawn in the previous years. They mixed with a myriad of colours in the clip signifies creativity and endurance from growth and deaths. New Order used the money accrued from their singing business to open and operate a nightclub called Hacienda in Manchester. The nightclub served individuals of different colours regardless of their background. Peoples’ hunger for dance led to the formation of a culture called Madchester that emerged as the hippest places at the time. The clip is dark and greyish with awful occurrences to convey the state of people’s relation with colours.
The 1985 video presents sketches of a photographer identified as William Wegman. They do balancing acts with Robert Breer’s hand drawn animations. The clip shows members of the band standing while performing a series of tasks. Some of the duties include moving a wooden plank over a blue painted floor, holding artworks constructed as wire mesh, carrying crates of milk over their faces, standing still while perusing through different books and each one of the band members being hit by a number of tennis balls.
The film presents hand-drawn animations in different colours to bring out a concept of Chromophobia. Chromophobia describes an irrational fear of colours by relating them to hormonal conditional responses (Eileen 42). This clip has tried to avert the Chromophobia concept by relating the colours of video content to things that the audience can relate to and at the same time appreciate. At the start of the clip, different artistic designs of hand-made drawings are evident depicting the beauty of colour. The clip starts with design shapes of single colours but as it continues, curly drawings of aesthetic value are seen inside the other shapes. Hand-drawn colourful bars and line strips are present with photographic pictures of different items used in the house. Photographs of carrots, hand-drawn ship and few lyrics written in different shapes and colour are incorporated to make the clip more attractive and appealing.
The band retained diverse colours on the background of the clip to maintain the perception of circumstances that led to the derivation of the lyrics to the song. The blue colour is dominant in the clip to depict the sad and depressing moments that members of the band had gone through prior to releasing the song. Some of the circumstances as mentioned in the analysis of colours in the 1883 clip include the death of Ian Curtis and the negative reaction of the public to their previous songs. White is dominant in the presentation of hand-drawn artworks and in the act balance process with individuals perusing through books to signify the peace that is existent in embracing the aesthetic beauty of colours (Mcjkok 1). At the time of making the film, people had developed notions of relating colours to certain events experienced during World War II. Consequently, the directors of the video wanted to change peoples’ chromophobic perceptions towards colours. He wanted them to embrace colours as elements that beautify art.
William Wegman was the creator of the video. Sketches by this photographer are evident in inclusion of Fay Ray. Fay Ray was the name for Wegman’s Weimaraner dog. Keith Haring influenced the video director into using cartoonish features and iconic drawings to represent the pop culture in the clip. This video features a flicker book by Robert Breer. The book was given by factory in 1988 as a present during Christmas. Band members are shown in the clip performing different actions. The members presented in the clip embrace colours such as red that were initially associated with anger and violence. They are seen wearing black and sitting on red sofas. Some scenes present them standing in dark areas while comfortably executing their tasks. Similarly, the dog embraces dark colours and the yellow colour of the tennis ball. Photographs of drugs and substances are evident in the clip depicting the life of drug abuse that arises from confusion and depression. The clip is lighter and playful in comparison to the previous clip because it seeks to inform and encourage a different behaviour. It also reveals relief from scary events in the 1983 clip.
Eileen, Joy. Prismatic Ecology: Ecotheory beyond Green, 213, Chromophobia. University of Minnesota Press, 2013. Retrieved from: https://approachestopainting.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/163577202-chromophobia-david-batchelor.pdf
Fruscalso, Rodrigo. “New Order — Blue Monday / Original Clip 1983.”
Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 11 Apr. 2010. Web. 2 June 2016.
Mcjkok, Kanaal. “New Order – Blue Monday 12 inch (HD).” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 Feb. 2012. Web. 2 June 2016.
Strangeman. “New Order – Blue Monday – Joy Division.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 2 June 2016.