Top 5 Songs: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Arctic Monkeys)

British rock giants Arctic Monkeys were one of the first bands to gain significant attention through the internet, and by the time their debut album Whatever People Say I Am was released in January 2006 the band were already well-known within the indie scene. The year following the release of Whatever People Say I Am saw the band skyrocket to new heights though – they won the Mercury Prize, they played just before the main stage headliner at Reading and Leeds Festival, and ultimately they put themselves on the map as one of the most critically acclaimed and exciting new bands in the UK. After 15 years, Whatever People Say I Am still holds up not only as one of the best Arctic Monkeys albums but one of the best debut albums of all time, and listening to it through again ahead of writing this article has been a nostalgic treat. Here are my five favourite tracks:

5. Mardy Bum

For me, Mardy Bum is the most unique song on the album and there was no way I could leave it out of this list. It has a nice, chilled vibe combined with the energetic indie sound and clever lyrics that flows throughout the rest of the album, and the end result is stunning. I’ll always feel a particular attachment to this song too as I played it as part of my music performance exam at school!

4. A Certain Romance

A Certain Romance is an interesting choice as the closing track for the album, but that should by no means undermine just how fantastic this song is. Much like all the other songs on this list, it has it all – an abundance of riffs, an unpredictable song structure, great lyrics and a catchy chorus. What I love about this album in general is the way they switch between heavy and energetic to mellow and clean, and in this song more than any other they execute this element of their songwriting incredibly well.

Arctic Monkeys played the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2006

3. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Dancefloor was the first Arctic Monkeys single, their first number 1 record, and is arguably the most important song in the band’s back-catalogue. Its instantly-recognisable opening and fast pace is enough to put anyone in the mood, and while it doesn’t fit their image or sound nowadays I hope it remains on their future setlists, as seeing this song live was one of the most unreal experiences! There is no doubt this song is an Arctic Monkeys classic, an anthem, and one of my favourites from Whatever People Say I Am.

2. When The Sun Goes Down

If there’s one thing writing this article has reminded me, it’s that Arctic Monkeys really know how to open a song well. I could say the same about every song on this list, but When The Sun Goes Down has an unbelievable opening – a soft, clean prelude that leads into one of the band’s most iconic riffs and another anthem. If there’s one Arctic Monkeys song that you can almost guarantee any crowd can sing along to word-for-word, it would be this song!

1. Ritz To The Rubble

The penultimate track on Whatever People Say I Am and possibly one of the more underrated tracks on the album, From The Ritz To The Rubble starts with an effortless swagger that leads into a huge bass riff and eventually into an upbeat, catchy song that contains all the right ingredients for a perfect Arctic Monkeys song. It frequently switches things up by adding and removing guitars and changing drum beats, it has a fantastic break down, and it demonstrates just how impressive Turner is at story-telling through his lyrics. This whole album is brilliant but for me this songs stands out as the best!


I know I say this in most of these Top 5 articles, but it was genuinely difficult trying to choose five top tracks from this album. It’s one of the few albums where every single song is a winner. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the band wrote Whatever People Say I Am – I have no idea how the songs all came together, and I don’t know if they knew they were creating something special, but I know that this album will stand the test of time and will still be hailed as a masterpiece in 15 years from now.


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