“Bizarre Love Triangle”
If there was ever a more aptly named song for the complicated, incestuous romances and crushes among college friends, I can’t think of one. Although appropriate for probably the bulk of that freshman year at Bowling Green, there is one particular night that I associate most with New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle”.
Despite that seemingly juicy insinuation, this is going to be a terribly disappointing entry. Much like the New Year’s Eve that would follow that same year, there are too many fuzzy memories tied up in the night associated with this song, and attempting to recount specific details would be doing a disservice to the friendships involved. So instead I’m going to do my best to dance around as much of the incriminating evidence as I possibly can.
It was early in that fall semester, but the close bonds between John, Jen, Erin, Jeff, and me were already being forged. I was dating Kari. Jeff was living in a frat house on campus because of a freshman housing shortage, earning him the nickname “Fratman” (remember, Tim Burton’s Batman had just hit earlier that summer).
On this particular night we were all going to meet up in Jeff’s room at the frat house. Everyone else went ahead to Jeff’s while Kari and I stayed back in my dorm room where – using nothing more than ice and the kind of starter earrings Claire’s Boutique uses – she pierced my ear up in cartilage. (It was my sixth piercing, but, for the record, it hurt like hell. And, according to urban legend, it’s kinda dangerous because I guess you can actually shatter the cartilage if not done correctly and then the top of your ear just flops over. Ew.)
After we were done mutilating my ears, I headed over to Jeff’s room. I can’t remember if Kari came with me there or not, but I don’t have any strong memories of her being there. There was alcohol involved, but I don’t know where it came from. We were all very drunk and there were admissions and confessions of unrequited love. There was a bunch of drunken laughter, probably some undeserved tears, and for some reason I can clearly see a combination of all of us in the community bathroom in the house. No idea why, though.
I don’t know what else I could possibly say about the night that wouldn’t either embarrass someone or be horribly inaccurate. (My relationship with Kari didn’t implode until later in the semester. Completely my fault, by the way, but not related directly to any of the events of the Bizarre Love Triangle.)
So if only by virtue of its title, New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” would deserve a place on The End of the Eighties, but it runs deeper than that. Lyrically, it’s one of the band’s least cryptic tunes, and was their first US hit, landing them on numerous late ’80s soundtracks.
Hailing from the “synth” side B of the album Brotherhood (side A being the “rock” side), it’s a remarkably bright song for the band. Most New Order compositions have a decidedly dark undertone, perhaps a lingering residue from the band’s previous incarnation. “Bizarre Love Triangle” is downright bouncy, carrying the listener along on a wave of keyboards and percussion, pushing any concerns over romantic entanglements blissfully out of mind.