Starting August 20th, in anticipation of Arctic Monkey’s fifth studio album “AM,” I will be counting down 20 of the Monkey’s greatest tunes to date. I’ll consider everything from “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” through “Suck It And See,” plus all the great b-sides in between.
Whittling down a catalogue as impressive as the Monkey’s to just 20 tracks is impossible, so here are 12 honorable mentions (and still, I’m excluding quite a few masterpieces).
In alphabetical order:
“All My Own Stunts” off SUCK IT AND SEE – Probably the most interesting track on the album; it does not fall into the ‘60s pop collection, nor the heavier side of Suck It And See. “Put on your dancing shoes and show me what to do, I know you got the moves,” is such a sweet line.
“Balaclava” off FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE – By all accounts, AM will be heavily influenced by the works of Dr. Dre and Outkast. This would hardly mark the Monkey’s first foray into bass & drum driven tracks laced with carefully patterned lyrics. “That’s right, he won’t let her out his sight.”
“Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts” off I BET YOU LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR (Single) – One of those sweet-as-candy tunes, it calls back to the days when a high school break up was the worst thing in the world while still maintaining the classic Monkey’s wit: “Oh the girls have grown, but I’m sure that they still carry on in similar ways.”
“Cornerstone” off HUMBUG – Really pains me to not include this brilliant song in my top 20, but the race is a tight one. Arguably one of the better pop songs written in the last—ever. Turner describes several encounters with women which go fairly well until he wonders if he can call them by the name of his former lover. The story is resolved when he settles for the chick’s sister. “She was close, you couldn’t get much closer. She said ‘I’m really not supposed to, but yes, you can call me anything you want.’”
“‘D’ is For Dangerous” off FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE – Any song featuring Matt Helders vocals is a winner. “He’s nearing the brink but he thinks first the parallel universe perhaps could be the perfect scene.”
“Do Me A Favour” off FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE – A sad, contemplative song with some haunting vocals that eventually busts out in one of the record’s loudest, most defiant moments: “How to tear apart the ties that bind? Perhaps ‘fuck off’ might be too kind.”
“Mardy Bum” off WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT – I may have overlooked this simple treat if not for the stunning Glastonbury ’13 rendition; an Arctic Monkeys classic in every sense of the meaning. “I can’t be asked to carry on in this debate that reoccurs when you say I don’t care, when of course I do, yeah, I clearly do.”
“My Propeller” off HUMBUG – Without doing much research, I’d venture a guess to say this is the least successful single the band ever released. No matter, it’s still a fantastically sexy song and a great opener to the Monkey’s most experimental effort yet. “My propeller won’t spin and I can’t get it started on my own, when are you arriving?”
“Old Yellow Bricks” off FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE – A signature Arctic Monkeys opening riff followed by a breakneck song that matches esoteric moments of calm with a pounding bass drum, eclectic lead guitar, and a few strings for good measure. “Old yellow bricks, love’s a risk…quite the little escapologist.”
“Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…” off WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT – This band knew they weren’t interested in major label politics even before they got involved. This song stated loud and clear how AM would handle their business going forward. “You better give me some pointers since you are the big rocket launcher and I’m just the shotgun.”
“Too Much To Ask” off FLUORESCENT ADOLESCENT (Single) – How can a song this could be the fourth track on a god damned single? Because we are talking Arctic Monkeys, that’s how. A groovy, melodramatic song that demands attention in the subtlest of ways. “The eyes are getting heavier and whether you’re asleep or awake is a mystery…would a kiss be too much to ask?”
“Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?” off WHO THE FUCK ARE ARCTIC MONKEYS? – I can’t believe critics slammed this EP as a capitalization on the success of the band’s first record. All four new tunes are gorgeously conceived, headlined by this epic title track. “Oh, in five years’ time will it be ‘who the fuck’s Arctic Monkeys?’”
Seven years later the Monkeys are primed to release their most ambitious record yet. Stayed tuned for the top 20, starting Tuesday.