Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Arctic Monkeys

The Artic Monkeys, Sheffield's own, provide proof that talent can indeed rule the day

These four unassuming Yorkshire lads formed their band in 2002. In the brief interim span of time since they have managed to spark the imagination of fans across the world.

After a swift conquest of their native Britain they ventured across the Atlantic where they broke out of the narrow confines of the alternative American college scene to mainstream success. Theirs has been the proverbial meteoric ascent. Today, Politicians refer to them in their speeches. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer claims to listen to them every morning. They have become, as much as they resist the label, cultural icons for the age.

Listen to them for the first time and it elicits a visceral response: this is special you think.

Then, not long as your thoughts gather you're struck by the individuality of their sound and the infectious innervating energy.

Enthralled you venture an idea of what their sound might signify. It gives a voice, if for a moment, you surmise to the true raw and combustible passion that inhabits the council flats, the clubs,the schools, the coming together of young minds living in a fast paced world, the nexus of many musical influences and cultures from around the world intersecting with a yearning to capture it all at once. A thing unfamiliar to any corporate prediction of market trends- a new face to the spirit of rebellion.

Listening to Alex Turners driven stream of consciousness lyrics sung unapologetically in his native Yorkshire patterns against the backdrop of insistent bass a
nd rhythm guitar and drums hints at a sense of the the modern Britain.They have risen it can be argued as a consequence of this new Britain more egalitarian and informed than in past but imbued more and more with the groundswell of the common man.

The Artic Monkeys have come up the hard way with the surpirising ease that characterises the digital age.

Forgoing the careful assesments of consumer interest and well crafted marketing plans they got the nod because they were good and people talked.

In the past this might have left them trapped in a niche for years. Today talk is global and word spread.

Actively handing out free Cd's at their early concerts and encouraging file sharing set the whole thing into motion. Other bands trying this approach unencumbered by the talent of the Artic Monkeys have not gone nearly so far nearly so fast

A MySpace site formed and before long they were tapped into a huge wellspring of young fans in America and the rest as they say has been history.

They have since signed a contract with Domino records and have been accused by some critics of cynical manipulation of the Internet medium: a baseless charge considering the new territory they have unearthed with their success.

Chris Anderson senior editor of Wired Magazine has written of the comin
g new economics in his excellent book The Long Tail.

He argues that the accessibility and efficiency of marketing and buying on the Internet has allowed a wider range of products than ever before, catering to the widespread diversity of tastes in the consumer public. Gone, he argues, is the age of the single hit that sets the barometer of consumer interest. In its place is the new reality of more products available for a disparate public producing, in effect, many smaller hits, all of them sustainable.

The Artic Monkeys may be artifacts of the old idea of the hit but they have used this new technology to propel themselves into this place, putting Anderson's thesis on pause, on talent alone.

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