Arctic Monkeys debut album turns 15!

Rebecca Sutton, The Delphi Staff

The Arctic Monkeys’ iconic and critically acclaimed debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, recently turned 15, marking a major milestone for the English indie rock band.

Hailing from Sheffield, England, the Arctic Monkeys were formed in 2002, consisting of Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook, and Andy Nicholson (who would leave the group in 2006 and be replaced by Nick O’Malley). They began performing gigs in Sheffield and made demo tapes that they would hand out to fans after performances.

Fans of the group shared these demos over the internet, causing the band to become quite popular in their native Northern England home. After signing with Domino Recording Company and releasing a couple of successful singles, the Arctic Monkeys released Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, which became one of the fastest selling debut albums in the history of Britain.

Following the release of Whatever People Say I Am, the band’s popularity exploded, especially in the UK. The album won the 2006 Mercury Prize, was certified 6x platinum in the UK, and the songwriting of Alex Turner was immensely praised.

Turner’s lyrics on the album are incredibly realistic, as many songs focus on life as a youth in Northern England. His tone ranges from wistful and nostalgic on songs like “Mardy Bum” to flat-out condescending on songs like “Still Take You Home.” His lyrics capture the essences of rebellion, love, frustration, and more, and they are emphasized by his very distinctive English accent in his singing.  Despite being only 20 years old at the time of the album’s release, Alex Turner quickly became one of the greatest lyricists of his generation, accompanied with meaningful and engaging lyrics that many could relate to on a personal level.

Whatever People Say I Am launched the Arctic Monkeys’ massive musical career. One year after their debut album was released, the Arctic Monkeys performed at the iconic Glastonbury Music Festival (which they would perform at again in 2013) and came out with their sophomore album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, which was also very well-received by fans and critics.

The Arctic Monkeys have gone on to release a plethora of albums and have received numerous accolades, including an Ivor Novello award, BRIT awards, Grammy nominations, Mercury Prize nominations, and many more. In 2013, they released AM, which was praised as one of the best albums of the decade. AM features many successful singles, including “Do I Wanna Know?” “R U Mine?” and “Arabella”.  AM was certified platinum in the US, 4x platinum in the UK, and topped the charts all around the world. The music video for “Do I Wanna Know?” has amassed over 1 billion views on YouTube, which is an incredible feat for the band.

What have the Arctic Monkeys been up to recently? In 2018, following a short hiatus after AM, they released the Grammy nominated Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, a very cool, surrealistic, and piano based concept album that took the band to a new musical direction.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped concerts for the time being, fans of the band were ecstatic when they released Live at the Royal Albert Hall in December of 2020. This live album of the band’s performance at Royal Albert Hall in 2018 features many of the band’s greatest songs, accentuated by the adoring sounds of the crowd. All of the proceeds from the album go to War Child UK, a charity that helps children who have experienced the horrors of war. Plus, fans may not have to wait too long for another studio album. Drummer Matt Helders has confirmed that the Arctic Monkeys are working on a new album, so we cannot wait to see what the future holds in store! 

From their magnificent debut album to their spectacular musical career, the Arctic Monkeys have greatly influenced rock music and their generation. Even though their early days of 2006 are long gone, the Arctic Monkeys continue to release wonderful music and will continue to shape rock ‘n’ roll.

In the wise and epic words of Alex Turner himself, “Yeah, that rock ’n’ roll, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”