The next big thing: So how hot are these Monkeys?

After two hit singles and a lot of hype, the Arctic Monkeys' debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was released yesterday - on the same day that they were nominated for four NME awards. How good are they really?
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Alan Sillitoe, Novelist

I was more surprised than flattered I suppose when they took the title of the album from my book Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. I'm mainly a big jazz and classical fan, not really into pop at all. I must say it is marvellous, I really like it and it's got me dancing around the room.

I'm from Nottingham, which is a very similar place to Sheffield and I can recognise their accents and their background. I think that reflecting their background is what helps lift them above other groups - if you localise with sufficient integrity, you achieve universality.

The sheer life and energy that they convey is a very good thing in this rather dead and politically correct society that we live in. They seem to have that connection to what real people think and want.

Stella Vine, Artist

I first heard of them six months ago, and have been playing the album all weekend. I bought NME for the first time in about two years this weekend, to see if there were pictures of the band. I am in the process of doing a painting of the band.

Alex Turner is such a wise little monkey, and the decisions he has made over his music really strikes a chord. It's raw and hard music, and slightly outsiderish, which appeals to me. I can identify with their spirit. The lyrics reminded me of the Beatles because they are profound truths of existence, but anyone can tap in and relate to them. They are poetic, and very English sounding, very real. People know about them through word of mouth, they've not engineered their own success.

Roger McGough, Poet

They write John Cooper Clarke, Morrissey, northern gritty lyrics that appeal to the market and their peers. Good luck to them. What they are writing is song lyrics, which is a different skill than writing poetry, because you are writing with music in your head. My 15-year-old daughter likes them, but I don't quite understand the fuss to do with the lyrics - yet."

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe

Funnily enough, because everyone's been talking about them, a young friend of mine bought the CD and I've been listening to it on the car stereo over the last couple of days. I'm not a big pop music person, being more of a football fan, but I'm from the generation that grew up with the Beatles and I'm quite a Bob Dylan fan. But I have to say I like this very much. I'm quite impressed, in fact. They seem to be talking in language that young people will respond too.

I think it is a great thing for Sheffield because although we have a history of producing good bands, in the past we have often been overshadowed by Liverpool and Manchester.

A couple of the group do come from my constituency, so I'm naturally very proud of that.

Tom Robinson, Founder of Tom Robinson Band and BBC 6 Music presenter

6 Music has been one of the first to champion them and play their music; I think they bear out everything I have always believed about musical talent, which is that all you have to be is good. In an era when so much music is rigidly controlled and packaged, I like the fact that they give the impression of not giving a fuck. They are edgy, mouthy and they say what they think. They get out there and get on with it. They are a breath of fresh air.

Can they last? That is the big problem, because we have a climate in which there is a voracious appetite for new music, caused by things like having weekly music papers and Radio 1. By the second album for a lot of bands, critics start saying "Oh, they are not that good anyway" and people suddenly don't want to know. It takes an exceptional band to get past that point.

Everyone said the Beatles were just disposable pop and no one would remember them. Exactly the same thing has been said about every era of popular music and yet we still listen to them today - that is because pop music seeps into the culture of every generation because it means something important to them. And I think kids who are now 15 or 16 and getting into the Arctic Monkeys will be playing their music in 20 years time and they will look back to this era and say to each other: "Those were the days..."

Kanya King, CEO & founder of MOBO Awards

The thing that stands out about the Arctic Monkeys is Alex Turner's unique voice. I think they are a brilliant band that has effectively used the internet to build up a fan base.

Another example of such a success is Sway, a UK hip-hop artist that this year managed to beat American heavy weights 50 Cent and The Game to win the Mobo best hip-hop artist award. Sway sold over 290,000 mix tapes from his gigs and website, similarly building a fan base like the Arctic Monkeys.

These two artists are an excellent example of how the recording industry is changing.

Through the internet and new technology talented artists like them can really develop their product and build a strong fan base without the support of a major label.

These young artists are real entrepreneurs that are maximizing the opportunities that are out there for them. In my opinion, this is a fantastic thing.

Dinos Chapman, Artist

It seems to me that it's teenager music. It's very raw and very live, and the last time I listened to music like this was when I was at college. It's not bad, but it is reinventing something.

The only way that we can keep revitalising the music and art world is by agreeing to forget that we have seen and heard these things before, as if the Beatles have not existed. So everybody suffers from selective amnesia, and agrees to forget that the Franz Ferdinand style of arthouse rock is modelled on Talking Heads. The music reminds me of Pulp, but from a different region. They are a utilitarian guitar band, making that kind of clever social comment.

Listening to this has made me feel very old. The subject matter is quite interesting, and I don't think it is bad, but I chose to stop listening to this type of music over 20 years ago. It doesn't do anything for me any more, and to be honest it didn't do that much for me the first time round. I prefer electronic music; you can't hum it for a start and it doesn't concern itself with emotional lyrics. I'm sure it will be a big hit though, it is just not meant for me.

Peter York, Style Commentator

They are a young band playing their hearts out. I like the idea of them more than the sound of them. I'm just an airhead metropolitanist. I like the idea of a British slice of life, but this isn't a life that I want a slice of. It's British in the wrong way - I prefer something more poncy myself.

Other people may like them because they are a slice of reality, but I don't want reality all the time.

They are quite enthusiastic, but a bit tedious. Pop is getting so much better in principle, but not necessarily in practice.

As I turned off their album, Lovetrain was playing on the radio. It just remind you of what is worth doing.

I admire their marketing and I quite admire their name, it's amusing, but is it really a nice sound? Not very, it's a bit dreary. I went to see Joy Division at the Manchester Apollo, and it was doomy, gloomy, boomy.

I didn't really listen to this when I was younger, I always wanted power-pop."

Paul Rees, Editor of Q Magazine

I think they are hugely exciting. I saw them live at the Astoria before Christmas and I thought that they were trying to run before they could walk. But having heard the album I am convinced that they have justified the hype. They sound fresh and genuinely exciting and they have great songs - lyrically, they are illuminating and very funny. Musically, they have been inspired by the best indie music of the past 10 to 20 years - groups like Nirvana, the Jam and the Fall - and are a distillation of everything that is good about such bands. But they stand up on their own and are not simply regurgitating the past. Who knows whether they can have real staying power? They are certainly the best thing I have heard in a long time.

Mark Borkowski, PR guru

A while back I got their album from some friends in the music business, so I've been the hippest father in school recently. They do seem to have genuinely converted the hype into something real and interesting. They are not too derivative, they have got great social content and they are exciting as well.

Rosie Millard, Arts writer

I thought their provenance was clearly from the Stranglers and early 1980s rock. When I listened to the album, it made me feel quite old but it did manage to liven up a dull afternoon struggling with my tax returns. While it was on, my three-year-old daughter, Honey, came in and started dancing and said "I love this music" so it gets her approval.

I think I would have it as driving music to counter the narcolepsy on the motorway, but then again, I'm more of a Bach woman. I think it's an age- related thing.

The band could be a music phenomenon, but then anything that has not been done for 20 years is a phenomenon for people under 30. If I were 16, as I was when I first listened to brilliant, guitar-based bands such as the Stranglers and the Jam, I would love the band too.I enjoy some of the tracks more than others; 'Dancing Shoes', is quite groovy, and I really like 'Riot Van'.

Brian Sewell, Art critic

I detest what they call "popular music", I leave restaurants that play it and I don't own a CD player so thankfully, I could not listen to the band at home."

Waxing lyrical


Last night these two bouncers

And one of em's alright

The other one's the scary one

His way or no way, totalatarian

He's got no time for you

Looking or breathing

How he don't want you to

So step out the queue

He makes examples of you

And there's nowt you can say

Behind they go through to the bit where you pay

And you realise then that it's finally the time

To walk back past ten thousand eyes in the line

And you can swap jumpers and make another move

Instilled in your brain you've got something to prove

To all the smirking faces and the boys in black

Why can't they be pleasant?

Why can't they have a laugh?

He's got his hand in your chest

He wants to give you a duff

Well secrectly I think they want it all to kick off

They want, arms flying everywhere and

Bottles as well it's just

Something to talk about

A story to tell you

Well I'm so glad they turned us all away

We'll put it down to fate

I said a thousand million things that

I could never say this morning

Got too deep, but how deep is too deep?

This town's a different town today

This town's a different town to what it was last night

You couldn't have done that on a Sunday

That girl's a different girl today

Said that girl's a different girl to her you kissed last night

You couldn't have done that on a Sunday

Well I'm so glad they turned us all away we'll put it down to fate

I said a thousand million things that I could never say this morning

Got too deep, but how deep is too deep?

Last night what we talked about

It made so much sense

But now the haze has ascended

It don't make no sense anymore

LYRICS: Alex Turner, courtesy of Domino Records