The 2013 era of Arctic monkeys is one of their most famous. With the success of their fifth album ‘AM‘, the rock four-piece completely broke America and shed the scruffy urban aesthetic in favour of slicked-back hair and an Americanised image. The band essentially became more rock’n’roll, resulting in a wider audience and an iconic image.
After the success of ‘R U Mine?’, the Sheffield-based band released the second single from ‘AM’, ‘Do I wanna know’, which has gone on to become one of their most recognisable tunes. The psychedelic indie rock song reached No.11 in the UK and has over 1 billion views on YouTube, and was often played as the opening song on their AM tour.
The lyrics, written by frontman Alex Turner, are similar to the story of ‘R U Mine?’, following an unrequited love. The legendary chorus starts with the electronic cry “Crawlin’ back to you”, as the singer details his obsession with a distant lover who never calls when they’re drunk. In some ways AM is more of a concept album, because the calling theme crops up in the third single ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, and a trio of questioning suggests to me this is no coincidence. Famously the Arctic Monkeys have never sung ‘I love You’, instead favouring more poetic lyrics, e.g. “When I’m not being honest I pretend that you were just some lover.”, but this album seems less concerned with the mournfulness of love and more about the frustrations that come with being in love. But back to poetry, ‘Do I wanna Know’ is such a melodically pleasing song and the rhyming and repetition makes it so easy to sing along to. Also, drummer Matt Helders’ and bassist Nick O’Malley’s backing vocals make the song very catchy. AM signified a larger role for the other members to showcase their brilliant voices too!
The instrumentals of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ are also very iconic. Jamie Cook’s amazing guitar riffs throughout are incredible and so memorable, and really make the song. The guitar gives off such a cool rock’n’roll vibe that collaborator Josh Homme rightly described as a “sexy, after-midnight record”. It’s one of those iconic sounds where you’re more likely to sing along to the guitar riff than the vocals!
The accompanying music video plays on the cover art from AM which features an Amplitude Modulation soundwave. A very clever design from Matthew Cooper which is littered in double entendres. The video, directed by David Wilson, features abstract drawings as a continuation from the AM sound wave. We see the four different sound waves produced from each band member, many images of sexualised women, and images of cars and racing. The music video goes so well with the pulsating sound, and gives off a vintage rock’n’roll feel, perhaps even too vintage as the music video does seem a bit sexist and voyeuristic at times. The thing is, Arctic Monkeys have never been a controversial band, so I’ve never decided if the images were some sort of satirical play on sexism in the music industry or if the boys were feeling a bit discriminatory at the time. I remember being thirteen when I saw the cover art for ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and for a while I was quite intimidated by the band. This was my first introduction to them and I assumed they adopted lad-ish culture. Since AM, the band have gone on to produce two more records which I’m pleased to say are much more acceptable in the imagery department.
‘Do I wanna Know?’ is a standout single from the Brit award winning album AM and has remained one of the most iconic songs from the band years on. To celebrate the anniversary, I’m gonna light a cigarette, get on a motorbike, and pretend I’m Elvis in a black leather jacket.
‘Do I Wanna Know?’ is available to listen to on Youtube via Domino: