Top 15 Songs by Arctic Monkeys
Sheffield's favorite post-punk garage rockers came into the mainstream in early 2006 with their explosive debut Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not following an EP release the prior year and a couple years of playing clubs throughout the UK. The group found themselves as the prime counterpoint to the jangly brit-pop sound as it was on its way out with a similar sound coming from their stylistic siblings Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. Seen in the US as a somewhat of British incarnation of The Strokes with their guitar forward, post-punk sound, the group found themselves in the sweet spot of an evolving alternative and indie rock sound prime for young, and angsty new faces. Below is a ranking of their top 15 songs released to date, with a couple of honorable mentions at the end.
15 - Don't Sit Down 'Cause I Moved Your Chair (Suck it And See)
Staring off this list is a song which made our 10 Fantastic Song Titles list, with not only a great name, but a dissonant guitar lick which reels-in listeners from the start. Although this record was hit or miss for a lot of fans, and retrospectively does not quite hold up to albums like AM or Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, tracks like this with it's grunge like sound and dark and ominous presence leave enough respect to be had for the experimentation of the band.
14 - Cornerstone (Humbug)
Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and James Ford's production duo left us with the third Arctic Monkey's studio album Humbug, filled with sounds of stoner and desert rock, a side-step from their previous release, yet still with plenty to like. Cornerstone finds itself as one of the more popular tracks from the record that began to set the stage for the evolving sound which led to the later decade defining album AM.
13 - Do I Wanna Know? (AM)
One of the coolest effects of AM was the willingness of Arctic Monkeys to emphasize the use of empty space and the allowance of the chords to fill the room of the listener, an effect no doubt left over from the desert rock sounds of Humbug. No track on this record takes advantage of room filling sounds, and empty space more than Do I Wanna Know, giving us a groovy, rockin' sound distinct to that classic AM sound.
12 - Fake Tales of San Fransisco (Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not)
Matt Helders starts out the song with a tasteful drum intro, bringing in this guitar forward, riff centered song. In true Arctic Monkeys fashion, the song builds up leading to a heavier, angsty second half, before bringing it back down for an outro in a similar fashion as the intro. Danceable tracks like this show why their debut was as well received, and genre defying as it was liked by so many in different realms of music.
11 - Snap Out Of It (AM)
Another track from the developed and masterpiece of an album AM. Just danceable enough to be liked by listeners outside of the Arctic Monkeys circle, and edgy enough to be liked by longtime fines. Alex Turners falsetto is divine is this song, and the band backs him up alarmingly well.
10 - Brianstorm (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
Again, Matt Helders starts the song with a powerful drum groove with guitars backing him up on the lower pitched strings. Brianstrom makes you want to head bang and start a mosh pit at an electric live show. Brianstorm was the perfect song to start this fan favorite album. This track features some of Helders finest drumming reminding listeners the huge part of this band that he is.
9 - Crying Lighting (Humbug)
Perhaps the most well-known song from the bands time in the Dessert with Josh Homme, Crying Lighting finds itself as one of the few songs on this record heavily played on alternative radio, and playlists alike to this day. With all its angsty and authentic lyrics still in the same family as their debut, the quartet toys with an evolving and new sound on this song. Powerful guitar chords and a wall of sound bump this song into the top 10 as it still sits well with long time listeners.
8 - Why'd You Only Call Me When Your High? (AM)
This song finds itself with some of Alex Turners best lyrics on the album in addition to the band backing him up with some of their less complex guitar lines, and simplest drum patterns heard throughout. With the genre defying sucess of this song, and the overall hypnotic catchiness of the track, again the band shows the effectiveness of well used space, giving way to one of their most streamed and popular tracks, meshing well with the louder and more intense songs on the album.
7 - If You Were There, Beware (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
A spooky and mesmerizing guitar riff sets the base for this fantastic track from the second album by Sheffield's finest. Turner sings with the guitar line throughout the song, setting a dark and mysterious tone heard more subtly through this record, but finds itself front in center on this track. One of the more complex song structures of the band's short discography at this point showing the masterful level of songwriting of Turner and the group.
6 - R U Mine? (AM)
Yet again, Matt Helders brings in the band with an epic drum fill, following the sunglasses, too cool for school track Do I Wanna Know?. The production on this whole album is next level with this being one of the songs were the studio effects, and top-tier musicianship really shine the brightest. A nice call and response guitar dialogue in the B-section, plenty of tasteful silence, and even more hypnotic singing from Turner.
5 - Fluorescent Adolescent (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
A tale about a naive girl past her prime found itself as the second-best track on the sophomore release of Arctic Monkeys. A nice little story about going from those glorious prime 20 years to those years where you may be a bit younger in your head, than your body will give you credit for. Fantastic chemistry between the guitars and drums yields a timeless song, known by plenty outside of the Arctic Monkeys fandom.
4 - When The Sun Goes Down (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
With a nod to iconic British rockers The Police, this song sets the scene of the working-class British underground and all of the undesirables which come with being out on the town, as this record does so well. The vocal-guitar duet which starts the song is morphed into an epic buildup bringing the rest of the band in. If you were not banging your head already at a live show, this song will certainly get things moving.
3 - Arabella (AM)
Alex Turner starts this song with arguably the most iconic Arctic Monkey's song lyric of all time speaking of some sort of space-bound fantasy dream girl with this opening verse capturing the intrigue of listeners as they try and piece together the mystic words. In true Pixies fashion mellow, level-headed verses give way to a loud and pounding chorus rich with bangin' drums and heavy guitars. An epic guitar solo opens up towards the end into a loud and powerful outro with all four members finding themselves in perfect sync. AM was a decade defining album and the peak of the evolved and mature sound of Arctic Monkeys, and Arabella finds itself as the best of that collection of songs.
2- 505 (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
It should be no shock 505 is as high on the list as it is with this song just going SO hard. The quiet, eerie intro sets the mood with soft guitars slowly building into a very present and pleasing guitar line before the band goes from 0 to 100 in one measure. 505 is the perfect song to end the album, and overall one of the best in the Arctic Monkey's discography.
1 - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
As many fantastic songs which found a place on the earth-shattering debut that was Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, this powerhouse of a song takes the cake in terms of sheer energy, authentic working-class lyrics, and musicianship. Helder's goes to town on the drums and the band starts the song with one of the biggest build-ups in the world of alternative rock. With this song being covered as much as it has been by small time indie and cover bands alike, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor lives on today and established all of what fans love about this band. Of everything they have put out over the years, nothing tops this.
A tough list to assemble given all of the memorable tracks this group has released over the years but what stands in the end is AM, Favourite Worst Nightmare, and Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not hold true as the three strongest of the records. With no songs from the overly experimental and spacey Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino not making an appearance on the list, hopefully the much-anticipated studio album to be released later this year takes a bit more influence from the stronger albums than the weaker ones. Nevertheless, one of the finest bands of the 2000's left their mark on the world of indie and alternative rock to the tune that few others have done in recent years. In no particular order, a few honorable mentions are Four Out of Five, Mardy Bum, Still Take You Home and Knee Socks.