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The 30 Best Arctic Monkeys Songs

Celebrating the Sheffield band’s finest moments, from dirty dance floors to the Information-Action Ratio, and everywhere in between

Arctic Monkeys

ANY BAND THAT hits as hard as Arctic Monkeys hit in 2005 runs the risk of forever being trapped in rock ’n’ roll amber, doomed to push the same four-chord boulder up a hill, or fall into a nostalgic abyss. Arctic Monkeys not only avoided that fate, they thrived in the face of it. In the 18 years since their debut single (“Fake Tales of San Francisco” b/w “From the Ritz to the Rubble,” still both among their best), they’ve crafted one of the most compelling catalogs in contemporary music, and Alex Turner has solidified his place as one of this generation’s great songwriters and frontmen.

Arctic Monkeys achieved this not through pandering or “playing the hits,” but by regularly confounding expectations: enlisting Josh Homme to gunk up their jitteriness with some desert sludge, or trading in their guitars for pianos as they embarked on a full-blown space odyssey. And through his lyrics, Turner crafted a language and style all his own. He’s a yarn weaver, as quick with a quip or a clever bit of wordplay as he is with some stark, sincere, sage distillation of the ways we live and love. Even as his metaphors have grown more oblique, his imagery a touch phantasmagorical and deliciously ludicrous, his words remain grounded in the kind of kitchen sink realism that made Arctic Monkeys’ earliest recordings so thrilling and immediate.

So here are 30 great Arctic Monkeys songs that celebrate and showcase that creativity and breadth. Like any best of list, think of this as just a best of list, not the best of list (in other words, please don’t @ us). Hopefully, though, this list expresses what’s so great about those lovable lads from Sheffield — the way they got us to stop asking, who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?, and start wondering, who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys going to be next?

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From Rolling Stone US


‘Star Treatment’

Few have captured the essence of a quarter life crisis better than Turner does with the indelible opening line: “I just wanted to be one of the Strokes/Now look at the mess you made me make.” But despite this bit of confessional autobiography, there’s no navel-gazing on “Star Treatment” — there’s barely any looking back in anger. “Star Treatment” is a total reinvention as Turner blurs his story with that of a washed up astro lounge lizard, simultaneously taking Arctic Monkeys from the world of uncut rock and roll to some stranger, surreal pop-rock realm. But even with such a massive musical vibe shift, Turner pointed out to Pitchfork just how quintessential that opening line is: “The style of me writing has developed considerably since the first record, but the bluntness of that line — and perhaps some other lyrics on this album — reminds me of the way I wrote in the beginning.” —J.B.



“505” is one of the most interesting tracks in Arctic Monkeys’ catalog. Built around an organ line pulled from Ennio Morricone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly score, it marked a sonic departure from the otherwise punkish Favourite Worst Nightmare. “505” laid the groundwork for future experimentation, with a pensive eeriness that matches Turner’s anticipation as he navigates his way back to a girlfriend’s apartment. Even the subject of the song differed from the band’s usual topics; as Turner told NME it was “the first proper love song [they’ve] done.” The change was a welcome one, and the 2007 track has proven its staying power with two viral revivals since its release. During the mid-2010s Tumblr era, posts containing the dark lyric, “I’d probably still adore you /With your hands around my neck,” were plentiful on the site. In 2022, “505” got a streaming bump after circulating on TikTok — this time for the jolting bridge in which Alex screams, “I crumble completely when you cry.” —M.G.


‘Do I Wanna Know?’

Even casual Arctic Monkeys fans remember the first time they heard the riff to “Do I Wanna Know?” A decade later, the moment is still cemented in our brains — and not just because the song taught American teens what a “settee” was. Up until that point, in the summer of 2013, our only taste of AM was the frenetic energy on “R U Mine?” No one was expecting Turner to pivot to a molasses-level tempo and casually deliver a seductive masterpiece about the possibilities of unrequited love. “I suppose I do want to think of ‘Do I Want to Know?’ as ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ with a jet-pack on,” he told us in 2013. The song has 1.5 billion views on YouTube, and we’ll watch it again and again, if not to imagine what it would have sounded like if Haim had sung those falsetto backing vocals. “We had to finish our record,” Este Haim told NME, of Days Are Gone. “That would have been our biggest dream come true: to sing on an Arctic Monkeys record. It was one of the most painful calls to say no. Maybe the worst day of my life.” —A.M.


‘A Certain Romance’

Everything great about Arctic Monkeys can be traced back to “A Certain Romance.” Turner seemed to admit as much in a 2022 interview with NME, saying the song “showed that we did actually have these ambitions beyond what we once thought we were capable of.” Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, as the title suggests, is an album overflowing with assured assertions of self — especially the grandiose kind people make as they exit adolescence and try to grasp onto adulthood. What makes “A Certain Romance” special is the way it captures that grasping. What starts as a critique of people who are ostensibly less sophisticated, stylish, or romantic, soon becomes an astute deconstruction of the snark, cynicism, and us-vs-them posturing endemic to youth. It’s a rather tender, empathetic note to land on, and Arctic Monkeys emphasize it not with words, but two dueling livewire guitars twisting around each other in a perfect tangle of uncertainty and exultation. —J.B.



Leave it to Alex Turner to have the only song on Humbug written in a major key also be the album’s most incisive and heartbreaking. The track’s narrative sees Turner looking for an old lover at her old haunts, and in the faces of new lovers. Over three verses, these romantic distractions turn down the singer and his odd request to call them by his ex’s name. Then in the perfect songwriting twist, he finds someone who’ll oblige in the final verse — his ex’s sister. Turner has often spoken about how proud he is of “Cornerstone,” which was inspired by Patsy Cline. “I was listening to a lot of country music when I wrote it, and it had that formula where the verses always end the same way,” he told Vulture in 2018. “Not to sound like a wanker, but with that song, I had an idea and it wrote itself. I’m not sure how I ended up with the girl’s sister in the last verse, though. When I was in school, I think I probably fancied my girlfriend’s sister or something.” “Cornerstone” is as much a favorite of Turner’s as it is of Arctic Monkeys fans; the track has become a staple on their setlist in the 14 years since its release. —B.S.


‘No. 1 Party Anthem’

This isn’t just for the bit. If you want to pinpoint the “where are you going, where have you been” fulcrum for Arctic Monkeys, it’s hard to do better than “No. 1 Party Anthem.” It’s the piano ballad outlier on 2013’s AM, otherwise one of the best rock guitar albums of the last 20-odd years, and it points to the far out spaces the band would explore on their next two records. Yet it’s also vintage Arctic Monkeys, one of the best late-night tales Turner has ever told (and he’s told tons). “To me, that song is about a kind of midnight where you feel like you’re in this parallel universe,” he put it to Rolling Stone in 2013.On “No. 1 Party Anthem,” Turner is no longer navigating the dingy debauchery of Sheffield nightclubs; he’s on the prowl at some high-end spot, lonely and rakish. But while the setting is different, the stakes remain the same. There’s yearning and self-consciousness, intoxicated posturing and sober disillusionment, lingering adolescent anxiety and a particular proclivity for poor decisions: “It’s not like I’m falling in love, I just want you/To do me no good/And you look like you could.”The one thing that can cut through all that noise, or at least help someone make sense of it? Music. An obvious answer, and also a kind of cheesy, slightly embarrassing one. Turner gets that, deeply and sincerely. Which is why “No. 1 Party Anthem” culminates around a rousing call — at once a genuine plea and a drunken request shouted at an uninterested DJ — for some nameless, ideal song. Because the song always has the answer. No matter what it is, even if it changes from one night to the next. That’s why it’s the best one ever. —J.B.