Love Will Tear Us Apart
Writer(s): Ian Curtis (see lyrics here)
First Charted: June 28, 1980
Peak: 8 CL, 1 CO, 13 UK, 26 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 0.6 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.5 video, 319.94 streaming
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.
First posted 6/28/2011; last updated 2/3/2023.