The group's synth-pop masterpiece was released 30 years ago. Here's why it's just as marvelous three decades later.
Originally released as a single off the Brotherhood album on Nov. 3, 1986, New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" was an unparalleled head-rush of a synth-pop song, combining classic soul melodies and borderline-gospel lyrical reverence with layers upon layers of spellbinding electronic hooks, crafting an incandescent jewel of mid-'80s computer love in the process. In the three decades since, the song has come to stand not only as a New Order fan favorite, but one of the best-loved alternative songs of the entire decade. Here are 10 of the reasons the song has endured as a classic.
1. The title. Like few other rock bands of its stature, New Order eschewed titling its songs after its most obvious or oft-repeated lyrics, instead naming them like they were impressionist paintings: "Ceremony," "Everything's Gone Green," "Your Silent Face." As in all those examples, the phrase "Bizarre Love Triangle" never appears in the song it titles -- even the word "love" is nowhere to be found -- but still brilliantly mirrors and illuminates its content, tying the song's delirious sonics and dumbfounded lyrics together in a three-word summation of simultaneously thrilling and terrifying romantic confusion. (The fact that it abbreviates to BLT is pretty fun, too.)
2. The drum launch. Different edits of "Bizarre Love Triangle" begin in different ways -- more on that in a bit -- but each of them shoots off into turbo-pop hyper-space the same way: with a pummeling 13-note drum pattern that interrupts all the synthy sparkle and bursts through with the panic and over-excitement of a heart arrhythmia. Before the vocals even come in, your internal circuitry already feels the overload.