“We were trying to cut this single in one room and it was on telly in the other,” Alex Turner told NME in 2014, still wide-eyed all these years later about how quickly things we moving for Arctic Monkeys right at the start. One of the standouts from their much-downloaded ‘Beneath The Boardwalk’ demo tape, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ managed to do the impossible by sounding both fresh and unique at a time when guitar bands were 10-a-penny. The Strokes, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party all ruled the roost at the time of its release, but ‘…Dancefloor’ instantly opened a huge creative chasm between its creators and everybody else. The general public agreed, sending it to the top of the UK Singles Chart instantly – a feat that none of the aforementioned acts ever managed to achieve, despite having mountains of record label cash, press and hype on their side.
It’s also one of the simplest songs Turner has ever written, primarily taking shape in Arctic Monkeys’ Sheffield rehearsal room in mid-2004 and relying on – irony of ironies – a series of descending US-influenced pop-punk chords. Matt Helders’ machine-gun drum roll sowed the seed initially, becoming the perfect foundation for Turner’s exhilarating guitar solo, which he played at breakneck speed three times – just in case you didn’t quite catch it. Lyrically, it’s still among his most remarkable achievements. Confrontational, bitter and deftly sarcastic in its depiction of a snarly young tyke getting a nightclub brush-off, it heralded a major new songwriting talent in its opening six lines alone. He many wince at it these days, but “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ is still the perfect encapsulation of what it is to be young, pissed, lusty, bored, angry and skint in modern-day Britain. In hindsight, the competition may as well have just given up.
Marking 13 years since the song’s release today (October 17), here’s everything you need to know about the track – in fun fact-file form…
Five Geeky Facts About The Song
1. The video was filmed live in the style of The old Grey Whistle Test – the band even hired old cameras that were used on the programme for it (although they were stopped short of wheeling out ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris).
2. “Dancing to electropop like a robot from 1984” refers to bandmate and confidant ‘Reverend’ Jon McClure, who once had a band called 1984. Both Turner and Helders played in his old band, Judan Suki.
3. Despite distancing himself from much of Arctic Monkeys’ early material these days, Alex Turner said in 2011 that he could “never imagine” not playing this track live.
4. It took three studio attempt to get the song right. First it was demoed with producer Alan Smyth. Then came a version recorded at “300 miles an hour” with James Ford and Rich Costley. Finally, with Jim Abiss at the recording desk, they got the keeper.
5. Other new entries in the UK Singles Chart the week ‘…Dancefloor’ went to Number One in October 2005 included Pete Doherty’s collaboration with The Litt’lans, ‘Their Way’ (new in at Number 22). McFly had the second highest new entry, reaching Number Three with ‘I Wanna Hold You’.
What We Said Then
“For all those Libs fans out there for whom ‘Fuck Forever’ was the final straw, look to Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys: the perfect combination of unfettered yoof and relative sobriety” – Mike Sterry
What We Say Now
It’s still the bollocks for anyone who likes fun on a Friday night and prefers the Stones’ style of R&B to Rihanna’s.
P Diddy says: “I am probably the biggest Arctic Monkeys fan – we’re having a bromance. I am part of the crew. I’m part of the entourage. So if y’all fuck with the Arctic Monkeys then y’all got to fuck with me”
Sugababes, The Vines and – excruciatingly – Tom Jones. Late last year comedian Bill Bailey joined them, performing an ad hoc version in the style of The Wurzels for NME.COM.
Former Depeche Mode man Alan Wilder, who in 2008 said the song’s production amounted to “a bombardment of the most unsubtle, one-dimensional noise”.
The track laid the foundation for Arctic Monkeys’ entire career. The bar was raised considerably on British indie too, and we finally had a new band who managed to shift impressive numbers across the pond without being completely shit. Still a regular in their setlists, proof of the song’s enduring appeal came in 2012 when Arctic Monkeys performed it at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony.