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Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is the debut album by English indie rock[1][2] band Arctic Monkeys, released on 23 January 2006. The album surpassed Elastica's self-titled album to become the fastest selling debut album in British music history, shifting over 360,000 copies in its first week,[3]and remains the fastest selling debut album by a band.[4][5] It has since gone quintuple platinum in the UK.

The album includes both tracks from the band's original EPFive Minutes with Arctic Monkeys, as well as their first two singles and UK number ones, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down". It has since appeared in several critics' publications, and is often cited as one of the best rock albums of the decade.[6] It received the 2006 Mercury Prize for Best Album. It was ranked number 371 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In October 2013, the UK music magazine NME ranked the album at number 19 in their poll of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[7]


 [hide*1 Composition and content

Composition and content[edit]Edit

The common thematic content of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not has led to it being considered by some a concept album concerning "the lives of young Northern England clubbers".[8] All tracks record first-person narratives of observations made within this context. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "Still Take You Home", "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights But You Were Staring Straight at Me" and "Dancing Shoes" all examine human behaviour in nightclubs. Alex Turner describes "Dancing Shoes" as being about "people always looking to pull when they go out however much they mask it."[9]Other songs examine other aspects of nightlife; "From the Ritz to the Rubble" is an account of nightclub bouncers, "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured" tells the typical experiences and troubles of getting a taxicab after a night out, and "When the Sun Goes Down" was inspired by prostitutes in the locality of their practice room in the Neepsend district of Sheffield.[10] Other songs are themed on romantic relationships, such as "Mardy Bum", or youth subcultures, such as "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "A Certain Romance". In NME's list of top 100 tracks of the decade, "A Certain Romance" was described as "a strangely even-handed song which starts out scorning local townies then appears to absolve them at the end of the song."[11]

Album title and artwork[edit]Edit

The album's title was taken from a line from the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning written by Alan Sillitoe. The name was chosen after Turner recognised similarities between the two works and the appropriateness of the title. He said that "it's good because the book is called Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and that's kind of what the album is, so there's a link there. And also, there's a lot of people saying a lot of things about us and you don't have control over it."[12] He also said that "songs including 'The View from the Afternoon', 'Dancing Shoes', 'Still Take You Home' and 'From the Ritz to the Rubble' all cover that bit of the weekend and feature the same character."[13]

Cover artwork of the album is a photo of Chris McClure — a tea boy friend of the band, frontman of The Violet May and brother of Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers — taken in the early hours of the morning in Korova bar, Liverpool[12] after the band had given him, his cousin and his best friend "seventy quid to spend on a night out".[14] The image caused some controversy when the head of Scotland'sNHS criticised the cover for "reinforcing the idea that smoking is okay".[15] The band's product manager denied the accusation, and in fact suggested the opposite: "You can see from the image smoking is not doing him the world of good." In March 2006, McClure announced that he would be giving up smoking, due to lack of funds,[16] though it has been recently[when?] reported that his attempts to do so have failed. Billboard advertisements for the album used a similar image to the cover picture, but without the cigarette.

Release and promotion[edit]Edit

Prior to the release of the album, the tracks "Mardy Bum", "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "Fake Tales of San Francisco", "Dancing Shoes", "Still Take You Home", "Riot Van", "When the Sun Goes Down" (then known as "Scummy" or "Scummy Man") and "A Certain Romance" had been released for free via the internet in late 2004 and consolidated on the unofficial Beneath the Boardwalk compilation.

The original release date was 30 January 2006, but was brought forward to 23 January 2006 due to "high demand". Although the same was done with Franz Ferdinand, it was speculated that the move was an attempt to counter the effects of the album's leak onto online file-sharing sites.[17] The re-recorded album versions had been leaked onto the internet by December 2005.

On the first day of its release, the album became the fastest-selling debut album in British history, selling just under 120,000 copies. By the end of the week, the album had sold 363,735 copies - more than the rest of the Top 20 combined and making it the overall fastest selling debut album in British history. Its release in the United States on 21 February 2006 saw it become the second fastest selling debut indie album in history,[18] turning over around 34,000 copies in its first week and achieving #24 in the album charts. The album also went to #1 in Australia and Ireland. UK sales as of September 2013 stood at 1,475,982 copies.[19] In February 2014, the album was certified 5x Platinum, indicating sales of 1,500,000 copies.

The track "Mardy Bum", while not released as a single, appeared on radio playlists throughout the UK in mid-2006, and is still played infrequently on BBC Radio 1 and some alternative rock stations such asSirius XM's Sirius XMU. The track "A Certain Romance" was ranked #90 in Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Tracks of 2006 and cited as the standout track.[20] NME also placed "A Certain Romance" at 10 in their list of 100 Tracks of the Decade.[21] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 140 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[22]


"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" was released as the first single from the album, the song debuted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in October 2005 for one week, knocking Sugababes' "Push The Button" off the top.

"When the Sun Goes Down" released as the second single from the album in January 2006, it also debuted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming their 2nd UK number 1 single to date. In the US, "Fake Tales of San Francisco" was released as the album's 2nd single and peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Charts.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[23]
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk 89%[1]
Allmusic [24]
A.V. Club B–[25]
The Guardian [10]
NME 10/10[26]
Pitchfork Media 7.4/10[27]
PopMatters 8/10[28]
Robert Christgau A−[29]
Rolling Stone [30]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[31]
Winnipeg Sun [32]

Since its release the album has received universal acclaim with a Metacritic rating of 82.[23] It featured highly in many year-end lists and was hailed as a modern classic.[33] Many critics and figures in the British media hyped the Arctic Monkeys and their rapid rise to acclaim through unconventional means[10][34][35] and some even cited the Arctic Monkeys as revolutionising the way people find music as they built a fanbase on the basis of a few demos shared by fans through the internet.[36] NME declared them "Our Generation's Most Important Band", and Alex Turner's lyrics and depiction of Sheffield, and the night lives of teenagers in particular, were praised, with him being labelled as a "master of observation"[26] and USA Today claiming "you probably won't hear a better CD all year long", calling it "utterly infectious".[33] MusicOMH wrote that it was the sort of guitar rock that "makes you fall in love with music all over again" and along with many other critics cited "A Certain Romance" as the standout track and as being "a wonderfully articulate dissection of youth culture that belies Turner's tender years". It was, however, noted that some of the tracks which had previously been released on the internet as demos had lost some of their quality and "don't sound as good".[34]

Awards and accolades[edit]Edit

In 2009 the album placed at number 9 in MTV's 'Greatest Album Ever' online poll.[47]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All lyrics written by Alex Turner, except where noted. All music composed by Arctic Monkeys.

No. Title Length
1. "The View from the Afternoon"   3:38
2. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor"   2:53
3. "Fake Tales of San Francisco"   2:57
4. "Dancing Shoes"   2:21
5. "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me"   2:10
6. "Still Take You Home" (Turner, Jamie Cook) 2:53
7. "Riot Van"   2:14
8. "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured"   2:23
9. "Mardy Bum"   2:55
10. "Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But..."   4:28
11. "When the Sun Goes Down"   3:20
12. "From the Ritz to the Rubble"   3:13
13. "A Certain Romance"   5:31


Arctic Monkeys
Technical personnel[48]
  • Jim Abbiss – production, recording, mixing (track 9)
  • Ewan Davies – recording
  • Alan Smyth – production (track 9), additional recording (track 11)
  • Andreas Bayr – recording (track 9)
  • Simon 'Barny' Barnicott – mixing
  • "anonymous" - mixing
  • Owen Skinnner – mixing assistant
  • Henry – recording assistant
Additional personnel[48]
  • Juno Liverpool – design
  • Alexandra Wolkowicz – photography
  • Andy Brown – photography
  • Uncredited - electric piano and organ (track 7)

Charts and certifications[edit]Edit

Weekly charts[edit]Edit

Charts (2006) Peak


Australian Albums (ARIA)[49] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[50] 23
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[51] 9
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[52] 22
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[citation needed] 46
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[53] 6
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[54] 8
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[55] 8
French Albums (SNEP)[56] 17
German Albums Chart 20
Irish Albums (IRMA)[57] 1
Italian Albums 40
Japanese Albums (Oricon) 9
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[58] 5
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[59] 29
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[60] 38
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[61] 16
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[62] 26
UK Albums (OCC)[63] 1
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[64] 1
US Billboard 200[65] 24
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[66] 1


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[67] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[68] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[69] Gold 20,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[70] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[71] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[72] 5× Platinum 1,500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Region Sales
United States 305,000[73]

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