The English rock band Arctic Monkeys have a bit of a unique, yet simple story in their trajectory to fame, and it’s one that many young musicians and bands who look up to them likely envy. They started out in their local rock scene in Sheffield in 2002, and have been consistently making music together ever since—barring one lineup change and a brief hiatus.
The band has remained fresh and relevant since their early days that it can be easy to forget that they’ve had a 20-year long career. Especially taking a look at their oldest and newest material, it’s pretty easy to see just how much these musicians have evolved since they were 16.
However, there’s something so punchy and enlivened about the scrappy sound of their early days. It is, in fact, what made them who they are today. For a band that got catapulted to stardom so fast, it only makes sense that a few tracks may have been lost in the shuffle, no matter how instrumental they are.
Taking a trip down memory lane, here are a few to look back on.
Six songs that kicked off Arctic Monkeys’ success:
6. ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’
Although this song is off their second album, not their first or their original demo, it is one of their most popular and prevailing early tracks. One of the lead songs on Favourite Worst Nightmare, it circulated around Tumblr and became somewhat of a cult classic in addition to its genuine popularity.
The snappy, upbeat song is one of the defining tracks that solidified the style of the album, and it still hasn’t gotten old all these years later.
5. ‘Teddy Picker’
One more song from their second album, I promise we’ll work our way backwards after this, but ‘Teddy Picker’ is one of their other hits from the second album. It might not be quite as popular as ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, but it certainly connects to those punky roots that we all love in early Arctic Monkeys music.
However, it’s also safe to say that this entire album is filled with no-skip hits. ‘Teddy Picker’ is for sure one of them.
4. ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’
Not only was this song featured on their very first studio album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but it was also one of their earliest songs to come into the rotation even before they produced the album. You can find footage of them playing this song as early as 2004.
If you listen back to the lyrics, you’ll also find something special in this one, because it’s written about the very music scene that handed them their start.
3. ‘Cigarette Smoker Fiona’
After Arctic Monkeys released their hit debut album that went straight to number one on the album charts in the UK, they found consecutive touring a bit tedious, and wanted some creative time in between stints, and thus, their EP, Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? was born. It featured a song of the same title, as well as a few others, including ‘Cigarette Smoker Fiona’.
This song features heavy distortion and a bit of a grungier sound, which blended seamlessly with the rest of the EP.
2. ‘When the Sun Goes Down’
This song was featured on their first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but it was also released as a single prior to the album. This was one of their first singles, and it foreshadows a lot of stylistic development for them.
Not only does the song allow for slow, melodic moments, but it plays with tempo to go hard, too. What more could you ask for in a song?
1. ‘Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts’
OK, I know what you’re thinking. Not their most famous song by any means, but you have to hand it to them—this song encapsulates everything that the band was all about in the early aughts pre-album drop. It’s full British indie rock, but it still goes into a bit more complexity to show their capabilities, even as teenagers.
This song was released as a B-side to their very first single in 2005, ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. While that song made it onto the album, ‘Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts’ was left on the cutting room floor.