Every music fan in Britain had already heralded Arctic Monkeys as the messiahs of rock and roll for close to a decade before they managed to storm America. Their rise to household name status on the other side of the Atlantic was an arduous journey, and it was ‘R U Mine’ that helped make their impossible dream a reality.
Each of the band’s six studio albums topped the charts in the UK, they’ve broken countless records, traversed multiple genres, and are undoubtedly the most important band to have emerged this millennium. Their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, tapped into British culture in a way that no record has done since. While Australia and the rest of the planet immediately took the Sheffield locals to their hearts, the road to American superstardom was a long and winding one.
Through constant gigging, putting in the hard yards over numerous years, Arctic Monkeys finally achieve their goal. However, for a while, it appeared as though it would never happen. It wasn’t until their fifth album, AM, that they nestled their way into the hearts of the general public stateside. Prior to that, it seemed Arctic Monkeys were destined to be another British group failing to achieve cult status on the other side of the pond. Then, alongside the crashing sound of Matt Helders’ drums, ‘R U Mine’ got the ball rolling and changed the group’s destiny.
The fiery track arrived out of nowhere in February 2012, officially putting an end to their album cycle for Suck It and See. It marked the start of the group embarking upon a new chapter, and ‘R U Mine’ was louder and slicker than they’d done before.
“We’d been on the road longer than usual,” frontman Alex Turner recollected to MOJO about the song’s origin. Adding: “The opportunity came up to do the Black Keys tour (spring 2012). We’d exhausted Suck It And See, so we thought we should do a new tune. That tour made us raise the bar as a live act: you’re playing as everyone’s walking in and buying their hotdogs, you’ve got to bring it a little more.”
The singer continued: “‘R U Mine’ was a ray of light moment. What I was most excited about is the vocal production, it was something we hadn’t explored to that extent before. I wanted to do these meandering melodies that don’t repeat, like contemporary R&B.”
They’d stumbled upon a sound that worked for them, and what started off as a throwaway single became the blueprint for their next record. When they got off the road later that year, Arctic Monkeys didn’t waste any time — the studio was the only place they wanted to be.
Over nine months, they perfected a new sound with producer James Ford, and the album sent the Monkeys into the stratosphere of mainstream success. Within two years, the landscape of Turner’s lyrical destiny had been transformed. Of course, selling out Madison Square Garden in 2014 was the crowning moment in their career, one which finally unhitched the monkey from their back. “There’s some gratification that comes with that, somehow, that you’ve still got it or something,” Turner told The Guardian after the performance. “It seems like some sort of victory. I don’t know why.”
Despite walking on water in Britain, Arctic Monkeys always felt as though they needed to prove to themselves that they could take over America. The monumental tour in support of The Black Keys was one they didn’t need to do, but it inadvertently led to the creation of ‘R U Mine‘. From that moment on, the domino effect kicked in as the States woke up and grasped Arctic Monkeys lustre.