The fact that Joy Division‘s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” charted five times in the U.K. and New Zealand between its release in 1980 and 1988 and has been re-issued three more times since speaks volumes to its enduring appeal.
The legend of Joy Division is as follows: A Manchester band, they released their debut EP in 1978 and debut album, “Unknown Pleasures,” in 1979. Singer Ian Curtis’ marriage was falling apart, he battled depression, was diagnosed with epilepsy, and on the eve of Joy Division’s first American tour in May 1980, committed suicide. Huge cults have grown around he and the band ever since. The three surviving members went on to form New Order.
But let’s not discount the song just because of its massive goth/dance/emo influence. The song has a maudlin quality that’s way darker than most dance-oriented music while still having a catchy-as-hell chorus. It’s one of those tunes that’s almost uplifting and depressing at the same time.
As far as movies go, you may have heard it first in “Donnie Darko,” where it is prominently featured. The spotty 2007 film “Control” is a biopic of Curtis’ brief and troubled life, but if you want a lively, invigorating film about the Manchester scene that also features the song in some interesting context, rent Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 brilliant “24 Hour Party People,” one of the best movies of the last decade, hands down.