It is often argued about who, in our generation, will become the ‘next Beatles’; the biggest band in the world. Many bands have held this title, but none have met the expectations of the legendary 60’s band. Due to their popularity, even pop group One Direction have been gifted this moniker, but the opposition has far outweighed the hype. With rock music experiencing a temporary lull, could it even be a guitar based band that squares up to The Beatles? And what boxes would they have to tick to achieve this milestone?
Perhaps our biggest hope, the Arctic Monkeys “from High Green Sheffield”, have the potential and momentum to become that. With five UK number one albums and great acclaim for each, their conquest to crack America could cement their status as the definitive band of our generation. They have already headlined the Olympics, Glastonbury, and countless festivals across the world, and demonstrated their already iconic brilliance at each. With Matthew Helder’s incredible drumming, catchy riffs from Jamie Cook, and Nick O’Mailey’s bass virtuosity, the instrumentation and sound is incomparable to modern peers. That’s not even mentioning the great melodies and storytelling at the forefront of the band.
Any great band needs a great frontman, who oozes charisma, class and charm. The Monkeys don’t have the powerhouse of both Lennon and McCartney, but that’s not to say there’s no competition. Singer and guitarist Alex Turner is widely regarded by many as not only the voice of a generation and a modern day poet, but also the sole saviour of rock and roll. Like The Beatles before, he, and all the band, are undeniable charming, if sometimes a bit silly, and their deservedly devout following thrive off each GIF, video and article the internet can throw at them.
Through Turner’s undeniably cool delivery, the effect of almost every lyric rouses more emotion than most bands can from an album. Simple phrases such as ‘she became laughter’s assassin’ paint a whole scene in the listener’s mind of a good time bluntly replaced with awkwardness and dumbstruck faces. He describes that “With folded arms you occupy the bench like toothache” as if the simile was not only a way showing the unpleasantness of the situation, but also the effect of grinding angry teeth as a consequence. His image conjuring lyricism can only be described as genius. But it’s not just lyrics that make the band.
Like The Beatles, and many influential and iconic music groups, the band have had many different phases. Each member adapts their aesthetic to reflect the band’s ever altering sound through their look and songs. They have experimented visually and musically through every ‘era’ whilst still sounding characteristically unique. After the success of the ‘chip shop rock’ debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, their (mainly UK centralised) hype did not die down, resulting in expectations of nothing but the best, and each time they have delivered.
But do they have the right messages and political impact to make a change like the Beatles did? Considering they have recently been shamed for tax dodging, their squeaky clean reputation is spoiled. They also don’t convey any political messages in songs, or even interviews. But the hypocrisy of Can’t Buy Me Love being written in a five star Parisian hotel has quickly been swept under the Persian carpets of The Beatles’ success. Evidently, the same has happened to the Arctics as their achievements far outshine their dirty little secrets.
What they lack in making a cultural change, they make up for or match in other areas; lyrically, drum and bass wise, they are easily superior, but it seems like blasphemy to state that any band can one-up The Beatles. Why should comparisons be made? Bands affect people in different ways. Big or small, all that matters is that good music is effecting the world in a positive way. They may only be on their way to be the world’s biggest group, but the fact they are inspiring millions of people to pick up instruments and create music is just what rock and roll needs right now. It shouldn’t matter that they haven’t made the same achievements, they’re their own band. With the current demise of album sales their first album may forever be the fasting selling debut in British history. There may never be a band as big as The Beatles, but who needs them when we have such a vast and varied, if momentarily humble, world of rock right now, fronted by the Arctic Monkeys?