Five Grammy nominations, a whole total of 42 wins from international and British awards alike, millions coming to watch them play live, and hundreds of millions in YouTube views for videos that seem like a one-take homemade short film. This is Arctic Monkeys, one of the most renown and edgy alternative rock bands of the modern day. It’s hard to point exactly when their breakthrough into the international waters happened, but their debut single, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”, released in 2005, took UK Singles Chart by storm and the band has been dominating it of and on ever since. Naturally, that is when Arctic Monkeys started attracting attention from the international arena as well.
A milestone in their development and an achievement that will go down in history (if not history overall, than the history of music for sure) is their first album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”. Right upon hitting the stores in the fall of 2005, its sales snowballed, and it became the fastest selling debut album in the history of UK. Considering UK is a country that is known for having nurtured a solid number of music icons, it’s an achievement worth commemorating.
International popularity came fast, but international recognition was not so easily achieved for Arctic Monkeys. While UK music critics and audiences alike were hyped about the album, the USA had a slightly different attitude. The people loved them almost just as much, but the critics were more reserved and claimed that while the hype is there, the band needs to live up to it. And they did – they have remained one of the crowd’s favourites for over a decade and forced critics all around the world to admit that Arctic Monkeys is a band that brings something unique to the table.
What’s behind the name?
A great band comes with a great name, yet if you heard “Arctic Monkeys” with no context, a world-famous rock band might not be the first thing that comes to mind. And that’s just another point in favour of Arctic Monkey’s influence, uniqueness and star quality – they have taken up a band name (and many of their song and album titles) that initially would not seem to appeal to the general public at all and have constructed a strong and powerful identity around them, which is their signature these days.
John Cooper Clarke, a punk performer who opened for Sex Pistols back in the day, has to be given credit for this highly unusual and outstanding band name. He was somewhat of an inspiration and a role model for the frontman Alex Turner. Turner trusted Clarke’s sense of humour and admired his perceptive poetry, and although Clarke was the first person to seriously appreciate the band’s title back in its early days, it was enough for them to keep it.
Being the greatest anything ever is a hardly achievable task, because the judgement for these categories is subjective and varies from person to person. That being said, with the impact that Arctic Monkeys had on the music industry, their fans and the popularity of alternative rock, it is fair to say they have come in close to being the greatest ever when it comes to alternative rock.