Saturday, June 28, 1980

Joy Division charted with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Joy Divison

Writer(s): Ian Curtis (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 28, 1980

Peak: 8 CL, 1 CO, 13 UK, 26 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 0.6 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.5 video, 220.11 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Joy Division was a band built on irony and contradiction. Despite the happy sound of their moniker, they specialized in music that was “gothic, dark and brooding.” LW In addition, their name, taken from the novel House of Dolls, referenced Nazi concentration-camp prostitutes. Despite the built-in controversy of such a name, the group failed to gain widespread publicity. Then again, as darlings of the British indie scene, commercial success would threaten their cred.

Nonetheless, lead singer Ian Curtis was reportedly devastated when “Love Will Tear Us Apart” failed to nick the UK pop charts, although it did top the independent charts. HL True to the band’s disparate nature, it was “most definitely a pop single, albeit a rather dark, forlorn” TB one which was “clearly the work of a troubled soul.” BBC In Telegraph, Neil McCormick described it as “romantic fear and self-loathing wrapped up in a post-punk torch song.” MC

Released in April 1980, it emerged during a rocky time for the band. Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy, was experiencing deteriorating health which forced numerous cancellations of European tour dates HL and threatened to destroy the band. RS500

Right before the group was headed to America for a tour, Curtis hung himself. Amidst stories of the singer’s failed relationships with his wife and a lover, the song’s already fragile and desperate tone took on even greater poignancy. LW A re-release of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in a “tombstone-style sleeve” LW shamelessly capitalized on the press devoted to the dead rock star. Now the song reached #13 on the UK charts.

The remaining members retired the name Joy Division and continued as New Order. However, “Love” would not go away. It recharted twice in the UK – in 1983 and in 1995 – both times reaching #19.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Joy Division
  • BBC BBC Music (2005). Sold on Song
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh. (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 33.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 150.
  • MC Neil McCormack (3/13/09). “100 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay Press. (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 180.

First posted 6/28/2011; last updated 4/30/2021.

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