100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #14: “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys

The song at #14 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the brilliant “Do I Wanna Know?” by British rock band Arctic Monkeys. They’ve had quite a musical journey since forming in 2002, while still in their teens living in Sheffield, England. They’ve released six studio albums, won seven Brit Awards, been nominated for five Grammy Awards, played numerous music festivals, including twice headlining at Glastonbury, and performed at the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympics in 2012. The band consists of the dangerously charismatic Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Jamie Cook (guitar, keyboards), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals)

“Do I Wanna Know?” is from their fifth album AM, which received widespread acclaim from both music critics and fans upon its release in 2013. The album was partly recorded in the town of Joshua Tree, in the Mojave Desert not far from where I live in Palm Springs, with contributions by area native and Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme. “Do I Wanna Know” has a moody, psychedelic/stoner rock vibe, with a dominant thumping drumbeat and accompanying bass line forming the track’s mesmerizing rhythmic foundation. But the real highlight is Alex Turner’s spectacular shimmery guitar work, courtesy of his Vox Starstream 12-string electric guitar, which produces a richer, more ringing tone than a standard six-string guitar. (Wikipedia) In December 2019, the song was ranked No. 3 on Guitar World‘s list of the 20 best guitar riffs of the decade.

The clever and cheeky lyrics speak of uncertainty and doubt as to whether the object of one’s affection shares your feelings, leaving you wondering if you really want to know the truth. But in the end, you always end up going back for more. The interplay between Turner’s sultry croons and the falsetto backing vocals is exquisite. The magnificent song is the band’s biggest hit, spending 10 weeks at #1 and a total of 58 weeks on the Billboard Alternative chart, where it was also named the top song of 2014. It’s also their only song to chart on the ridiculous Hot 100, where it peaked at #70.

Have you got colour in your cheeks?
Do you ever get that fear that you can’t shift
The type that sticks around like summat in your teeth?
Are there some aces up your sleeve?
Have you no idea that you’re in deep?
I dreamt about you nearly every night this week
How many secrets can you keep?
‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow and I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep
Spilling drinks on my settee

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you’d stay
(Baby, we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can’t say tomorrow day

Crawling back to you

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?
‘Cause I always do
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Crawling back to you

So have you got the guts?
Been wondering if your heart’s still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts
Simmer down and pucker up
I’m sorry to interrupt. It’s just I’m constantly on the cusp of trying to kiss you
I don’t know if you feel the same as I do
But we could be together if you wanted to

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you’d stay
(Baby, we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can’t say tomorrow day

Crawling back to you (crawling back to you)

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few? (you’ve had a few)
‘Cause I always do (’cause I always do)
Maybe I’m too (maybe I’m too busy) busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Crawling back to you

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you’d stay
(Baby, we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can’t say tomorrow day

The imaginative animated video for the song was directed by David Wilson, in conjunction with British animation agency Blinkink, and has been viewed over 1 billion times.

4 thoughts on “100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #14: “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys

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