Don't Believe the Hype: I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor

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Electro pop. Robots. Romance. 1984. A retrospective view on the most loved song of generation indie. Released on October 14th 2005, last week marks the ten year anniversary of the song whose iconic guitar and drum intro beat its way into the hearts of thousands. The official video is unassumingly ironic. Baby faced Alex Turner takes to the microphone in 2005 and mumbles ‘don’t believe the hype’ before humbly playing one of the most iconic ‘indie’ songs ever. From bold beginnings, by asserting itself as number one on the first week of its release, where has the hype surrounding the most evocative Monkey’s song ended up (apart from that at the ROXY on their indie Tuesday nights)?  Why has this song withstood the test of rock times? Who even listens to this song anymore?

First of all, the release of this song in 2005 changed the Monkey’s sound. Their debut single Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys to me, seemed like an introverted test run of I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor; which appeared to set their riotous rock sound in motion. Henceforth, the ‘dreams of naughtiness’ became a model for the Monkeys notoriety in sleazy lyrics about ‘girls of the night’ and ‘book[s] of sex tips’. (PS I would totally buy Alex Turner’s little book of sex tips if he ever wrote one. It’s those eyes and that quiff that get my heart racing.)

Due to the popularity of this song, Alex said himself that he could “never imagine” this song not being part of every Monkey’s set list even after his initial distancing from the tune. Ten years ago, the band played the song with as much boisterous energy as they do now, yet the change occurs in venues and crowds. The performances in 2005 were attended by legitimate fans who came to their gigs to immerse themselves in the sound. They had an authentic liveliness. The audience seemed happy enough rubbing sweaty armpits against each other and cutting their best rock salutes sans iPhones. Nowadays, in the world of festivals, this authenticity is lost by middle class hipsters who care more about getting the shots for Instagram than feeling the music. From this video at Glastonbury 2013, the crowd do still have a lot of energy, but the word-for-word singing along just appears an over rehearsed compensation for their poor middle class moshing at a ‘rock’ festival. With ticket prices for their original gigs being £7 and Glastonbury ranging up to a £1,000, it is clear to see the reasons for the change in fans over the years. Ten years on, in terms of performance, the point of the band seems to have been lost in overpriced festival tickets and floral head crowns.

Furthermore, the song has (in my eyes) been wrongly appropriated by pop music and culture. Almost a year after its release, the song was covered by the Sugababes for the B-Side on their single ‘Red Dress’. Firstly, this song is not a B-Side standard song. The original is the A-Side, the B-Side and even the imaginary C-Side if there could be one. Secondly, there is no bridge between the talent of the Monkeys and the Sugababes. All the debauched rock pleasures are lost in the cover by a feeble attempt to seem like an edgy girl group. Fast forward another year to Princess Diana’s memorial concert in Wembley. Of all people, Tom Jones performed the classic Monkeys tune. I don’t even think I have to describe how tragic the cover was (I turned off the video after 10 seconds of singing). To me, the covers seems nonsensical  but have pushed Arctic Monkeys in more recent years into what we call ‘pop’. I doubt Arctic Monkey’s would’ve taken too kindly to the gentle, spineless covers of such an originally rowdy song, but their growth in popularity over the years has worked in their favour with their most recent album ‘AM’, which got shot into critical limelight in 2013.

Dismissing the atrocious covers as small mistakes in musical history (like Britney’s 2007 meltdown), it appears the reason why this song has stood the test of time is due to the fact that it encapsulates all of what it means to live as a youngster in modern-day Britain: sex, alcohol, boredom and dancing. Without this representation of Britain in the song, it wouldn’t have been played as part of the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony and may not still be played in dodgy indie clubs during the week now. Imagine a wannabe Alex Turner in Shoreditch on a Friday night.  He’s dressed in his finest leather jacket and sporting a well V05’d quiff. He’s horny and bored of the lack of attention. He sees a girl and doesn’t know if he’s interested but dances like a maniac anyway. And this is exactly the point why this song resonates with such young people still.

‘Don’t believe the hype’ said Alex Turner. And of course we do. The song has transformed from an indie icon to a cultural institution. Forget the covers, forget the crowds, all that matters is the ever-lasting vigor and momentum that the song holds for the band and the fans.

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