The Arctic Monkeys classic Alex Turner co-wrote with his ex-girlfriend


Before the release of Favourite Worst Nightmare, there was a moment when the music world wondered whether the hype should really be believed. It is a tough thing to imagine now, given how emphatically the Arctic Monkeys have proved that the hype was barely brimming enough, but the pressure was on following the lofty heights that their debut reached. 

Then the surprise single of ‘Brianstorm’ came along yelling “Pressure is for tires, man,” and kicked the naysayers into touch. Then, as if to prove there was actually a kaleidoscope of variety to their talent, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ poked a lyrical finger into the beleaguered faces of doubters like a lawyer holding a smoking gun. 

Not only did ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ prove that they had the pop chops to infiltrate the mainstream, it became such a mainstay of indie culture that everyone will have their own personal past experiences evoked by it every time they hear it. In fact, there are many fellows of a certain generation who will even remember staying up to watch them perform on The Jonathan Ross Show and seeing them emerge dressed as clowns for an early live rendition of the anthem. 

Reflecting on an iconic debut: 15 years of Arctic Monkeys album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’

However, what is less well known is that one of frontman Alex Turner’s many ex-girlfriends helped out with the creation of the track. The writing of this is co-credited to Johanna Bennett, Turner’s girlfriend at the time. During a Mediterranean vacation Turner and Bennett, who sound like a great detective duo, were reminiscing on the fading lights of some of the fluorescent characters they knew back at school. 

As Turner told The Times in his old colloquial way back in 2007: “It started off as a joke. Then it were like, ‘Here’s another verse’. We were having a laugh. Some of the lines were hers. I couldn’t have not credited her. It’s just right, really.” And not to be cynical but dating a rock star is a tempestuous perch to find yourself on, so the security of a little trickle of royalties cash no doubt wasn’t set to go amiss either. 

What’s more, it says a lot about how relatable the song is that it was written in union from shared ideas. We all know the characters involved. In fact, looking back now, the single is a bookmark in time, and that is a measure of the Monkeys at their transcendent best. 

Following this playful splurge and reverie of youth was the rather more mature Humbug. When the band absconded to the desert to record with Josh Homme at the Joshua Tree, their hair got longer, and the songs followed suit. No longer dripping in the hue of Sheffield nights, the tracks were a darker affair that scurried away with stubble from the fluorescence of vibrant adolescence. 

In the end, this move will be looked back on as pivotal in ensuring the evolution and longevity of the band. Not to mention that it was also a consummate record on its own accord, even if it does get less playtime these days. 

But it was ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ that gloriously captured the gaudy days of old and went on to be massively successful for the band, ensuring they maintained mainstream glare as the song achieved the rare feat for an indie track of charting in the top five in the UK. In fact, it proved such a success that all three B-sides even featured in the top 200. Sit back and revel in the nostalgia below, now with the fresh appreciation of the happy romance behind it.  


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