Arctic Monkeys are an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jamie Cook (guitar, keyboards), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, vocals), and Matt Helders (drums, vocals). Former band member Andy Nicholson (bass guitar, vocals) left the band in 2006 shortly after their debut album was released.
Matt Helders’ energy is what really draws me to this band. Alex Turner, the lead vocalist seems like a rather shy boy, but don’t let him fool you, there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. He is just my type, I like peeling the layers slowly… 😉 I had the opportunity to see them live in Pittsburgh in 2018! It was an awesome experience that I hope to repeat soon!
Their lyrics are centered on complicated, almost toxic relations. However, they are fun to listen to due to the layered use of metaphors. This is another band I can get lost in for hours, besides Panic at the Disco.
Although in recent years their energy has declined, they still strive to explore the boundaries of their own creative capacity. 505 is my favorite song from their last album “Tranquility Base Hotel Casino.”
Below are my top picks. Enjoy!
I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor
She is driving him crazy, she ignores him but he ‘knows’ she is calling him. She looks so good on the dance floor but it is not clear what she wants. I think this song is more about describing the emotional journey of the hungry wolves during the hunt. Does it matter if she is ignoring him or making the eyes at him? All it matters is that this lad is on fire but he doesn’t dare to make a move. So he writes a song about it instead 🙂 Don’t worry, it seems like his hunting skills are improved as we hear in later songs.
This tune inspired me to become a drummer. I zoned out one day while driving and listening to this song. I missed my exit for work and I had no idea of how I got there, I could have had an accident, I don’t recall anything else but the music and picturing myself playing every note on the drums. This is a song about Brian, a slick lad with the ability to hypnotize everyone around him, especially women. The song drops hints of sarcasm which would indicate jealousy about such an effortless magnetism. It describes the raw conflict between bros, you admire them but also they are your competition. How can one get any action with such a skilled player around? He is like this magnet attracting all the women. How dare he? Alex is screaming, ‘leave some for the rest of us!’ Brian seems to be the unforecasted storm indeed!
When the Sun Goes Down
This is a very sad story, describing a lonely girl who falls for a pimp who pretends to care for her and protect her. He is clearly using her, but she can’t see it, because she never had the chance to experience what a healthy relationship looks like. Sadly, this is the reality of so many women and men. The book ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ does a beautiful job describing how violence is normalized through childhood, so that any crumbs of positive attention become the only life line that these individuals know as affection. I see this song as a counter argument to the claims that women who practice prostitution are ‘liberated’ or that they do it ‘by choice’. It may be true for some people in certain instances. However, I find it hard to believe that a person practicing prostitution has enjoyed every single encounter they had, and that they would choose prostitution over other type of work if they were offered the same amount of money. I don’t think anyone enjoys the feeling of being treated like a bag of meat regardless of how much she/he is paid. Extensive research shows that the relationship between customer and prostitute causes extensive damage to both in the long term and greatly limits an individual’s ability to fully realize their potential. Remember this song when you think that she/he is enjoying it or that she/he has a choice.
I like this song because despite exposing a sad reality of many women, this tune has an up beat almost aggressive melody that is very catchy.
Why’d You Only Call Me When You Are High
What happens when you combine alcohol and a cell phone at 3AM? Drum roll… a booty call! The video features another one of their songs (Do I wanna know) before they start playing this one. This lad is so completely wasted that he has lost track of time and space. In this video we see a more mature Alex Turner expressing his desires more openly. However, it seems like he is till quite shy, for this time it took liquid courage to gather the strength to make a move, and he is really insistent. This video provides a comedic perspective of how alcohol lubricates all kinds of casual encounters. This lad is so horny that as the night progresses all he sees is people having sex even when they are not; Conveying the distorted reality experienced under the influence that is fueled by people’s most inner desires. If you are horny, every one seems to be in the mood, if you are angry, everyone is a dick! Enjoy!
Are You Mine?
“Years too late, she’s a silver lining
Lone ranger riding through an open space
In my mind when she’s not right there beside me, I go crazy ’cause here isn’t where I wanna be
And satisfaction feels like a distant memory
And I can’t help myself, all I
Wanna hear her say is “Are you mine?”
The lyrics of this song use clever metaphors to describe an obsession with a casual affair that grows more distant as time goes by. He becomes almost a puppet of his own memories, re-living the moments together and longing for the next encounter. Clearly, a toxic relationship, not strong enough to keep them together but pulling so hard that he can’t let go.
Have you ever experienced this push/pull magnetism?
Do Me a Favor
I love the drums/ guitar combo on this tune. This is a song about heart break, so hold on to your hearts. It walks you through the process, the signs and how much less painful it feels to have your nose broken than to walk away from a relationship that is no longer working. Would it be kinder to say ‘fuck off’ or ‘go away’? I guess so, at least you would have a negative feeling to associate with this person and move on quicker instead of wondering for months if it could have been saved. Have you been treated like crap during a break up? Perhaps that was the kindest thing they could have done. There is something to be said for straight shooters!
Legend has it that this song was inspired by a GF that Alex Turner was visiting at a NY hotel room 505. It is not clear if they were a serious thing or a casual affair. Although, to judge by the bite/bark comment, there may have been some affairs involved and she was not happy about it. This is a sample of their new style, more electronic and mellow. Enjoy!
Snap Out of It
This tune puts a light melody to a rather sad situation. You know that feeling when you are still hung up on a past relationship but the other person has moved on? The video shows a beautiful woman watching Alex’s every move. It is not clear if she ended the relationship or if it was the other way around. However, she does not seem like ‘forever’ is her thing and letting go isn’t either. I think this song describes perfectly the type of relationships that people who live in a fantasy world have. They can’t be with the person in a real relationship but once it is over, they can’t seem to ‘snap out of it.’ This song describes the way in which people engage in relationships playing with different rules. Here we are, playing a game with our own rules, without knowing what the rules of engagement are for the other person. Could it be why romantic relationships are so complicated?
Other songs worth mentioning
- Do I Wanna Know
- Teddy Picker
- Fluorescent Adolescent
- Old Yellow Bricks
- Crying Lightning
- Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
- Piledriver Waltz
- One for the Road
- Mardy Bum
- A Certain Romance