Arctic Monkeys are a completely different band from those who emerged in polo shirts in the mid-noughties. It’s only natural that they’d later grow out of the material they released as teenagers, but, even then, they thought one of their early hits was a “bit shit”.
When the group released their debut album, they were four fresh-faced teenagers who were barely out of school and suddenly had everyone talking about them. They created a seismic hype that Britain hadn’t seen since Oasis and one that hasn’t been replicated in the two decades that have followed.
They were the first wave of bands to breakthrough thanks to a social media buzz, although it was MySpace rather than Tik-Tok. The Sheffield group showed that the industry was changing, and you no longer needed to go through traditional gatekeepers to find an audience. The catalyst for Arctic Monkeys becoming Britain’s premier band was their debut single, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, which was the first domino to fall.
Organically, they created a fanbase and had labels swarming them, with the band eventually deciding to sign with Domino Records. Towards the end of 2005, ‘I Bet You Good Look Good On The Dancefloor’ was officially released and topped the UK singles chart, an unheard-of achievement for a guitar band.
To promote the single, the Arctic’s were interviewed by The Guardian but were hardly enthusiastic about the single. “It’s a bit shit,” the singer apologetically told the publication. “The words are rubbish. I scraped the bottom of the barrel. It could be a big song, like. But I’d hate to be just known for that song because it’s a bit…crap.”
In recent years, Turner hasn’t changed his stance on their early material and admitted that he could no longer relate to the version of himself that wrote those tracks as a teenager. “Sometimes it’s tough to get through one of the old ones live. You know, you don’t feel like that anymore,” he told the Daily Star in 2014. “When you tell the same joke 600 times, you won’t hear what it is anymore, but then sometimes, like, the 601st time you might see something in it you didn’t before.”
Again, in 2018, Turner returned to this topic after BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac and revealed it pains him to revisit their older material. “I think sometimes that can be helpful. In preparation for going on tour, we flicked through some of our old records,” he said. “There were a few lyrics that went by where I thought [wincing noise], ‘Don’t know what you were thinking there. Probably leave that one out now.'”
Turner nonchalantly suggesting ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ was “a bit shit” is why people latched on to his band so heavily. They were bereft of ego like their rock ‘n’ roll predecessors, and his everyman charm is exactly what made Arctic Monkeys wholly refreshing.