The Mic Drop #01: ‘Disorder’ by Joy Division

I’m starting a weekly post called The Mic Drop. It’s about songs that are so incredible, that capture an emotion or a state of mind so perfectly, nothing can top them. The artist might as well just finish, drop the mic and walk off stage. Hence, The Mic Drop.

This is the first one. Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’:

It’s the first track on the band’s debut album Unknown Pleasures (1979), recorded in Greater Manchester. Just as New York punk song of a metropolis on the brink, this is the sound of a city falling apart. In the North West of England in 1979, factories were rotting, families fleeing, even the sewers were collapsing. More than that, people were falling apart inside. That’s what this song evokes for me: urban and internal alienation. That tragic sense of living in a city, being desperate to connect with your fellow human beings, but being blocked by circumstance or self-sabotage. That attempt to “get the spirit”, but not “lose the feeling”. It reeks of confusion and paranoia, and sublimated sexual tension. “I’m watching you, I’m watching her. Who is right? Who can tell? Who gives a damn?”. It could easily have been a horrific, gloomy song. But to me, it’s uplifting. The staccato guitar line, piled onto machine gun drums and falsetto bass, lashed with waves of extraterrestrial noise blasts: by the end, this “gloomy” song is almost an anthem. It’s the cure for it’s own urban sickness. You’re lifted up. Awake. Alert. And punk as fuck.