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Top 20 Joy Division Songs That Were Really a Bad Idea to Play at Your Niece’s Eighth Birthday Party

Joy Division is an absolutely legendary band, but for some reason, third graders can’t quite wrap this concept around their prepubescent minds. That’s why it felt like a good move to play a few JD tracks at little Maiya’s eighth birthday party this year as a teachable moment for them. But unfortunately, here are the 20 Joy Division songs that were a terrible idea to put on during a child’s birthday party. (Listen along to the playlist)

20. “Atrocity Exhibition” (1980)

You would think a bunch of eight-year-olds would at least have a little bit of music taste, like this six-minute opening track that is equivalent to an A24 slow burn where grief was the enemy the whole time. But no, they just want to hear JoJo Siwa. Again.

19. “The Eternal” (1980)

Of all the Joy Division tracks that make you want to walk alone in a dark and foggy forest while thinking about how all of life is suffering until death but perhaps meaninglessness isn’t so bad if you embrace it, this one takes the cake. Try explaining this to a bunch of eight-year-olds though.

18. “Interzone” (1979)

No one at this party is wearing one of those squiggly line Joy Division shirts, so it’s really difficult to spot fans of this band. But judging by everyone’s reaction to this song, it appears none of the children have even heard of them. Clearly bad parenting, when my sister was pregnant I told her she wouldn’t make a good mother, this proves it.

17. “Twenty Four Hours” (1980)

The cover of Joy Division’s second album “Closer” isn’t nearly as iconic as their first one. But to these kids, no Joy Division album cover is recognizable no matter how many times you show them Google images of them while everyone is eating cake.

16. “Insight” (1979)

This song may start slow, but about halfway through there are sounds of what appears to be lasers being fired at a dramatic and unrelenting rate. Doing the finger gun thing to pantomime them seemed like a good idea at the time. But the side-eye looks and sneering by the entire party make it seem like it was not.

15. “Heart and Soul” (1980) 

Putting on this song will only frighten the children because it sounds like the entrance music for a vampire. This is not as badass as it appears to be. Kids are historically anti-monster.

14. “Wilderness” (1979)

This one has a little groove to it, but don’t let that fool you. These kids are smarter than being tricked by post-punk. Not to mention, it still doesn’t pair well with jumping in a bouncy castle and ball pit. Children typically have weird standards for social gatherings.

13. “A Means to an End” (1980)

After singer Ian Curtis passed away, the surviving members of the band went on to have a ton of success as New Order. Unfortunately, not even the adults seem to care about this kind of music history. This why you shouldn’t talk to anyone at a party.

12. “Decades” (1980)

For some reason, the kids at this event seem to respond to music that is energetic and upbeat, and lie down to take a nap almost immediately when they hear songs like “Decades.” It’s like they’re seeing something Joy Division fans aren’t.

11. “Atmosphere” (1980)

This track could totally work at the party if you just changed the music, lyrics, vocals, production, song structure, and overall aesthetic. It’s only a few dozen tweaks away from being beloved on a national level.

10. “These Days” (1980)

Losing aux cord privileges at a child’s eighth birthday isn’t the worst thing in the world. But having kids laugh and point at you for having objectively irredeemable music taste can be devastating. Why does this keep happening?

9. “New Dawn Fades” (1979)

There’s a nice little build to this song that went completely over the heads of these kids, which doesn’t make sense because they all went nuts when someone played Taylor Swift. Could it be that the general public likes T-Swift more than Joy Division? I don’t believe it.

8. “Shadowplay” (1979)

Oh great, the parents hosting this party hired Disney princess impersonators and all the girls are losing their collective shits over them. I was hoping for more a more Nosferstu vibe. Joy Division and Disney just don’t go as well together as one would think.

7. “She’s Lost Control” (1979)

Just because you figured out how to get this exact percussion sound on your electric drum set doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to provide a live demonstration while everyone is singing the “Happy Birthday” song. I don’t get it either.

6. “Dead Souls” (1979)

Telling everyone that you are going to put on a song called “Dead Souls” probably does not make for a good first impression at this kind of event. But hey, at least you’ll never be invited to another family-friendly function again, whether you like it or not.

5. “Isolation” (1980)

This one has a cool little synth thing throughout the track. That might remind the kids of something more mainstream like Gary Numan or Depeche Mode. But it turns out, these little snots don’t even know who they are. They have so much to learn and there’s so little time to educate them at this party.

4.“Digital” (1980)

Remember that meme of the guy in the corner of the party saying “they don’t know that I’m a (fill in the blank)” and the other partygoers are dancing and having a good time anyway? This is what it feels like being a public Joy Division fan at a party mainly targeting elementary school kids.

3. “Transmission” (1979)

There’s video evidence of Ian Curtis doing a weird little dance where he pulsates frantically and almost flails his arms as if they were independent from his body. This is not what the children expected to see after you said, “Hey kids, want to see something cool?”

2. “Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)

So, you went into this party saying to yourself, “Don’t be the weird uncle who talks about Joy Division the whole time” but you still did it anyway, you sick fuck. It is a quick reminder that you’re better off listening to this band by yourself where you are completely isolated from the rest of civilization, so you don’t ruin any more cheerful vibes.

1. “Disorder” (1979)

Bassist Peter Hook is a bit of a legend with his signature style of playing really high up on the instrument. But encouraging our youth of today to embrace anything higher up than the sixth fret on a bass seems more difficult than it sounds, especially to eight-year-olds who are more interested in unicorns. Bunch of losers.

Listen along to the playlist: