Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Raight hyped Monkeys

They always say policemen are getting younger, but not as quickly as rock bands. Those wee scamps the Arctic Monkeys, who picked up the Mercury Music Prize last night, looked about 12.

New British guitar bands are notoriously over-hyped, but since indie rock is perhaps the only art form in which Britain still leads the world (apart from costume dramas, stand-up comedy and TV shows about people redecorating their homes) this is sort of understandable.

And for a change the Arctic Monkeys do go some way towards justifying the hype. Mainly because the words are very funny, nailing the Saturday night townie culture of Britain’s city centres perfectly.

As exemplified by the drunken, strongly Sheffield-accented, post-club taxi-home chatter of their best song Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured:

Ask if we can have six in, if not we'll have to have two
You're coming up our end aren't you? So I'll get one with you
Oh won't he let us have six in? Especially not with the food
He coulda just told us no though, he dint have to be rude

See her in the green dress? She talked to me at the bar

How come its already two pound fifty? We've only gone about a yard
Dint ya see she were gorgeous, she was beyond belief
But this lad at the side drinking a Smirnoff Ice came and paid for her Tropical Reef

And I'm sitting going backwards, and I didn't want to leave

Its High Green, mate, via Hillsborough please

How funny was that sketch earlier, up near that taxi rank

Oh no you will have missed it, think it was when you went to the bank
These two lads squaring up proper shouting, bout who was next in the queue
The kind of thing that would seem so silly but not when they've both had a few

Calm down, temper temper, you shouldn’t get so annoyed

You’re acting like a silly little boy
They wanted to be men and do some fighting in the street
No surrender, no chance of retreat!

Drunken plots hatched to jump it, ask around are ya sure?

Went for it but the red light was showing
And the red light indicates doors are secured.

As a public service, and given the quantity of slang in the song, I have provided a translation:

(To friend, who is engaged in hailing taxi cab):
Pray ask the good driver if his taxi cab will accommodate six passengers, for if not we will be obliged to commandeer an additional transport,
Now I understand that your destination is in the proximity of my residence, in which case you and I can share this additional taxi, thus halving the cost.
Oh, he refuses to accommodate six passengers, being especially fearful that our takeaway meals will spoil his upholstery?
A simple ‘no’ would have sufficed: the abruptness of his reply was uncalled-for.

(To friend, now ensconced in taxi cab):
Observe the lady attired in green: we engaged in conversation at the bar of the night-club we have recently exited….
(To taxi driver, interrupting self): Excuse me sir, I am concerned by the rapidity with which your meter is advancing – we have not travelled far, yet already it reads £2.50.
(To friend): …The aforementioned lady was, I’m sure you’ll agree, highly attractive, but sadly my plan to entice her into a more intimate conversation was thwarted by the arrival of a rival for her affections, who paid the bill for her sugary alcoholic beverage.

(Interior monologue): Now, as I contemplate the rear window of this taxi, it occurs to me that I would prefer to have remained in that nightclub.

(To taxi driver): Our final destination is High Green, but please proceed via the district of Hillsborough.

(To friend): Did you observe the highly amusing incident that occurred in the queue for the taxi-cabs
Or perhaps it took place when you left to withdraw money from an ATM machine?
Anyway, the crux of it was that two fellows became embroiled in a dispute about who had the prior claim to the first taxi to arrive at the rank,
A dispute unfortunately fuelled by the effects of intoxicating liquor.

They were behaving in an unwise and immature manner, and would have been well-advised to becalm themselves,
But sadly a misguided bravado and machismo overruled reasonableness,
And they vowed, in the oft-used words of the British response to threats from the Irish Republican Army, that neither retreat nor surrender were ‘on the cards’, so to speak.

(Interior monologue): In situations of this kind, groups of intoxicated young men often in their impatience hatch ill-thought out and unlikely plots to ‘hijack’ taxis occupied by other passengers,
Fortunately, the internal locking mechanisms on taxi doors, commonly indicated as being operational by the illumination of a red light, are sufficiently sophisticated to minimise the risk of such an attempt being successful.


Susan's Husband said...

I am so un-immersed in popular culture that the only place I have ever heard of the Arctic Monkeys is here and at BrosJudd.

However, thanks to anti-acne advertisements on Nickelodeon, I can now recognize Jessica Simpson.

Brit said...

Oh, I get her mixed up with Jessica Rabbit. And Bart Simpson.

Arctic Monkeys are the latest Best Thing Since Sliced Bread here.

I believe they've just toured extensively in the States, but they sing rapidly in uncompromisingly thick Yorkshire accents with plenty of Sheffield slang thrown in, which would make their lyrics impenetrable to most American ears, so I'd be surprised if they 'crack' the States (which is the goal of all our Best Things Since Sliced Bread).

martpol said...

Good work on the translation. Perhaps you can help me with the word "cold", as in "Bullet in the Head" by Rage Against The Machine:

"I give a shout out to the living dead / Who stood and watched as the feds cold centralized"

I don't really know much of the Arctic Monkeys' stuff, but they strike me as being entertaining in a similar way to Ian Dury or The Streets. Not sure they're the Saviours of Rock, but they're better than the oddly-feted Keane and Orson.

Of course, as well as worrying about whether bands will 'break' the States, we also tend to steadfastly ignore music from over there. Nirvana is the only US band I can think of that emerged from the underground and was genuinely successful on both sides of the Atlantic.

Brit said...

"feds cold centralized"?

Don't ask me. I expect it's poetic.

What about the Red Hot Chili Peppers?