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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Monkey business
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Website

Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys: Free from PR spin
Politicians are falling over themselves to name check the Arctic Monkeys. But what has made the band their yardstick for all that is current and cool?

Chancellor Gordon Brown reportedly loved waking up to them but now he loves the Arctic Circle more.

When Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said he thought they'd sold more records than the Beatles he was mocked by the media. While Tory leader David Cameron's comments on the band's album being "ok" were seen by some as a bid to appear down with the kids.

Any politician making a grab for the public's affections, it seems, feels compelled to name check the pop act du jour: the Arctic Monkeys.

Monkey mania in the upper echelons of politics took off in the summer when Mr Brown told New Woman magazine the band "really wakes you up in the morning".

When asked later by GQ magazine to name a track, he couldn't but went on to say he'd heard the band and "they're very loud".

In a speech to stake his claim as next Labour leader on Monday, he neatly turned the issue around, confessing "I'm more interested in the future of the Arctic Circle than the future of the Arctic Monkeys."

It's like arriving late to the party and trying to convince people you should be there
Matthew Hirst
Youth trend expert
So when did the Arctic Monkeys become the politicians' yardstick for what is cool and what's not?

The Sheffield band are best known for their prose about kerb-crawlers and eyeing up girls, all sung in a regional vernacular. They became an overnight phenomenon after building up a huge fan base, before even getting a record contract, through networking website MySpace.

They have been seized upon by politicians because they are the first band in a long time to genuinely come through the ranks untainted by PR spin, says consultancy HeadlightVision.

"They are an organic, young, trendy band who are real, with fans around the world," says youth trend expert, Matthew Hirst.

'Poster boys'

"They climbed the ranks using new media that young people are into but a lot of older people don't understand. They are the poster boys for all that."

The way the band became a success is a major reason why politicians want to associate themselves with them, in one way or another, says Jody Thompson, former news editor at NME and music journalist with BBC 6 Music.

"They achieved their success without recognition from the major records companies and when they did sign a record contract it was with an independent label - they haven't sold out," she says.

Arctic Monkeys
Keeping it real in cagoules
But politicians are too late for any of the band's coolness to rub off on them, say trend experts.

"Politicians are name checking them because they want to be seen as real - but it's too late," says Mr Hirst. "It's like arriving late to the party and trying to convince people you should be there.

"The band are not on their way up any more, they have got there and are playing massive festivals, and the whole MySpace thing is almost over because so many bands are now trying to replicate what they did."

But will the continual name checking by middle-aged, male politicians put an end to the band's street cred?

"They won't care," says Thompson. "They've achieved their success."


I think it's cool that politicians are finally trying to'get down with the kids'. What is un cool though is the fact that these polititians are trying to totally blag themselves some street cred. Somebody tell them to do their research and they may be considered as showing an interest in young culture. Do you think we'll see Mr. Brown at Glastonbury this year, and if we do, will he be a wellington boot wearer or the not so sensible white trainer wearer. Now that would be cool.
Ash, Carlisle

If i heard a politician name drop the Artic Monkeys they would not be in favour with me. Mainly because shameless name dropping is a cheap way of trying to appeal to people, but also because the Arctic Monkeys are rubbish! I don't understand the attraction to it, it's noise. Their lyrics are childish at best and they sound like a bunch of drunk monkeys shouting. It's all very strange!
Lewis, Pompey

Is it likely that any politician who says they like an "up-and-coming" band will have their status raised? Are people going to vote for the party which name-checks new bands rather than the policies they are going to implement? Personally, I think politicians who are jumping on the bandwagon (sorry, I couldn't help the AM pun) look far worse than if they accepted they were far from cool, but were good at what they do. They are like embarassing Dads stumbling through the corridors of "cool" trying to impress their teenage children. Perhaps the shameful irony of it all is that AM are writing songs and slating the state of the country we are in. Maybe Brown enjoys waking up to the smell of the metaphorical coffee in the morning...
Andy, Rushden, UK

The working class lads from sheffield see life in contemporary british society as it is. No wonder policy makers and the intellectual glitterati are falling over themselves to jump on the bandwagon. Politicians underestimate the savvy of our young people and will ultimately pay the price as they fool no-one.
Will T, Glasgow

When will politicians learn not to try and claim to be fans of indie music bands they haven't really heard of? It makes them appear even more out of touch then they already naturally are! It would be a lot more effective if politicians actually dug out an indie band they genuinely enjoyed listening to - even if that band is a little out of date. I am waiting to see which political party adopts Muse; then I'm voting for them!!!
Daniel, Bolton, United Kingdom

Do any of these trendy young people actually vote, anyway? I thought politics was regarded as unfashionable by them.
simon, bradford

I'm pretty sure real Arctic Monkeys fans will be turned off politics when the 'embarrassing older uncle' type of politician tries to jump on the indie bandwagon. They're a young band and generally for younger people; don't pretend to fit in if you can't.
Suzi, Portsmouth

After recent peculiar tendencies for politicians to forge ahead with 'rapid reforms' and 'sweeping change', I would quite like them to return to being old, stuffy and boring, far too interested in the gritty affairs of state to worry about the latest pop trends. If they could be avid listeners of Radio 4 and procurers of Werther's Originals, so much the better.
Lorraine K, London, UK

I bet Gordon Brown can't name 3 Arctic Monkeys songs. Look at Tony Blair he tried to be Cool by inviting Oasis to Downing Street in 1997, but at least they were the biggest band in the world so Blair could not be accused of jumping on the bandwagon
Karam, Wolves

Who are the arctic monkeys?
Ed, London





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