“Fluorescent Adolescent” is arguably indie rock band Arctic Monkeys’ most famous and well-known song. Released in 2007, from their “Favourite Worst Nightmare Album” the track’s upbeat guitar and drum have stood the test of time in the past eleven years, with it still being a firm favourite in the hearts of not only Arctic Monkeys fans, but those who love indie rock.
The track tells the story of aging and how life seems to not be as fun the older you get. The Arctic Monkeys tell this story through describing the changes in a particular woman’s sex life. “You used to get it in your fishnets/now you only get it in your night dress”, describing how the woman’s sexual endeavours are probably less spontaneous than they used to be, as she only seems to have sex when she’s in her night dress. Also referring to the lack of Tabasco in the famous cocktail “Bloody Mary”, could be a metaphor for saying that her sex life is now lacking in spice or excitement. The chorus emphasizes that her memories aren’t stupid even though they may appear to be stupid to her now, so she should look back fondly on them. The rest of the song continues to make more sexual references about men and continues to reminisce on the older woman’s past sexual encounters.
The lyrics of the song were actually written not only by frontman of the Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner, but one of his ex-girlfriends, Johanna Bennett. Turner tell The Times magazine in an interview in July 2007 that they were on holiday in the Mediterranean, and they were reminiscing about people they knew at school. He claims it “started as a joke” and says that “some of the lines were hers, I couldn’t have not credited her”.
The music video doesn’t follow the storyline or narrative of the song and is quite random. It shows a group of men, one dressed as a sad clown fighting a group of men in suits, using cars to run them over as well as calling for back up. It shows that the main protagonists has history with his enemy, taking the audience back to when the clown and the enemy were young – one dressed in clown attire and one dressed in a suit sitting on playground swings. The video has been watched almost 100 million times since its release.
Read the lyrics to “Fluorescent Adolescent” here.