Not content with stealing the musical spotlight from anyone who dares tread near them, Arctic Monkeys are a dab hand behind the camera too. The launch of new Monkeys video has become a cultural event all of its own – hardly surprising, given the blockbuster spectacle of the majority of them.
Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to whittle down the band’s 27 (!) videos to a trim selection of the ten very best. From gritty Northern English storytelling to pure glam-rock excess, via spooky goings-on and a whole lotta Helders – here’s the very best of Arctic Monkeys’ impeccable music videos.
One For The Road
May as well start this one off weird, right? Like Mad Max–meets-yer grandad, Monkeys guitarist Jamie Cook drag races tractors around a seemingly abandoned farm, before hopping off to tear the place down with his bandmates, fireworks, models and all. Perfectly fusing ‘AM’’s American swagger with the English countryside of their home, it’s Arctic Monkeys at their bonkers, brilliant best.
R U Mine
Another ‘AM’ belter, and a complete stylistic heel-turn of a video – this NME Award-winning clip features the lads out on the town, settling into the big-time rockstar shoes that their fifth album broke in. Self-shot by the band, it’s as stripped back and in-your-face as the album ‘R U Mine’ features on. Going for a joyride with a bunch of Sheffield scallies never looked so cool.
Leave Before The Lights Come On
Taking the song’s lyrical tale of a one-night stand and flipping it on its head, swapping horny clubgoers for desperate middle-agers, the Monkeys’ ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’ video harbours the same eerie, silent quality as Radiohead’s iconic ‘Just’ video. With all the gritty Northern charm of a Shane Meadows classic, it also stars Liz from Shaun Of The Dead (aka Kate Ashfield), Paddy Considine, and a last-minute star turn from none other than babyfaced drummer Matt Helders himself. What a multi-talented bloke.
Oh, and look, Helders is back at it again! Go on lad. This time – for the dusty, smutty ‘Suck It And See’ b-side ‘Evil Twin’ – he’s getting saucy with American model Breana McDow, driving around on a massive motorbike and generally being the big Yankee stereotype that so many took offence to once Arctic Monkeys started to develop their sound into the Americanised, bluesy hybrid of ‘Suck It And See’ and ‘AM’. Whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or not, we’ll leave you to decide – all that really matters is what a hoot Helders is having. Look at him go!
When The Sun Goes Down
Another grim entry into the Monkeys’ cinematic canon, ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ took the track’s tale of local prostitution very literally. Starring British hard-nut for hire Stephen Graham (perhaps best known as Combo from This Is England) as the scummy pimp to Lauren Socha’s (Kelly from Misfits’) downtrodden, dejected sex worker, it’s a harrowing, disorientating watch. Close up shots of Sorcha’s broken face drive the message of the track home, emphasising Alex Turner’s former status as the bard of Northern England’s grimier corners.
One of the most instantly iconic Monkeys videos, this clown-packed, ’70s-esque brawler is as barmy as they come. Stephen Graham makes another appearance, this time as a makeup-clad criminal, it was directed by The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade, and inspired by a John Cooper Clarke poem, ‘Out of Control Fairground’. Dubbed by Jamie Cook as “probably one of the best videos in the last, like, 10 years,” upon its release, 11 years later his point still stands up.
Four Out Of Five
Oh yes. The first single from their divisive new album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, ‘Four Out Of Five’’s video is quintessential Monkeys, even if the record itself might not be. It’s creepy, it’s cinematic, and it’s heavily indebted to Stanley Kubrick – and possibly also to the dramatic chipmunk meme. Packed full of easter eggs and weird imagery, when combined with the excruciatingly controlled rollout of ‘Tranquility Base…’, it’s already sent fans into a frenzy as they attempt to decode the thing.
Simple but utterly striking, ‘Cornerstone’s video features Turner on his own, crooning away into a tape machine. Perhaps foreshadowing the Alex-heavy recording process of ‘Tranquility Base…’, it still remains one of the Monkeys collective’s most effortlessly cool clips.
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
First of all, whatever pub Alex Turner’s in that’s open, busy, and still serving shot after shot past 3:30am, we would like the address of. Secondly, what a video. The wonky aesthetic of a night gone awry – and those weird, ‘did that really happen?’ moments that only seem to occur after a few – is perfectly captured, as ‘Alex band guy’ slips off in search of a late night booty call. Funny, stylish, and easily depicting the absurdity of modern life, it’s a Monkeys classic.
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
But of course. The stripped-back, tight-as-a-nut video that launched the career of Britain’s best band; the clip that made its way from mobile phone to mobile phone, MySpace page to MySpace page; the still-instantly iconic video, featuring a spoken opening line that’s so woven into modern British life it should be chiseled into the wall of the Houses Of Parliament. “Don’t believe the hype”, indeed. All hail the ‘…Dancefloor’.