HITS Daily Double

For the first time in recent memory, over 30% of the Modern Rock chart is comprised of songs by ex-U.S. artists, including U.K. acts Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood (pictured at right), George Ezra, Alt-J, Glass Animals and Kooks.

Florence & the Machine’s brilliant new single, “What Kind of Man,” was #1 Most Added at the format by a landslide, far surpassing new singles from U.S. Alt mainstays Incubus, Foo Fighters and Offspring. This isn’t exactly a shock, since the #1 song at Modern Rock for 2014 was Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know?,” from their fifth album, AM (Domino). The band won big at the 2014 BRIT Awards, nabbing the trophies for Best British Group and British Album of the Year.

Another U.K. Modern Rock breakout, Royal Blood, took British Group of the Year at this week's BRITs--beating such formidable competition as Coldplay and One Direction

I’ve never been to the BRIT Awards, but they’ve been described to me as “the Grammys with alcohol.” Since I stopped drinking many decades ago, the absolute lockdown of alcohol inside the Staples Center, 30 minutes prior to the Grammy telecast, has never been as traumatic to me as, say, the shuttering of Wetzel’s Pretzels, just outside of section 103, when I was next to order. It happened to me twice: In 2014, as the guest of Tame Impala’s manager, Jodie Regan, and the year before, as part of the Team Lumineers entourage.

So I imagine the BRIT Awards as a free-for-all of drinking, smoking, food and thousands of glamorous women wearing Erdem, Alexander, Victoria, Phoebe, Stella, Julien and Vivienne. I wore Erdem to the MusiCares dinner, but nobody noticed.

While on the subject of me, perhaps it is relevant (unlikely) to point out that I quarterbacked the first Arctic Monkeys record nearly 10 years ago and, at the time, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” was the highest-charting indie-label song of the Mediabase era.

I remember bribing security to let throngs of radio programmers into the band’s first SXSW showcase at La Zona Rosa, since all of them showed up late, ignoring my pleas to be there early. In 2006, the band hadn’t spent much time in the States, and radio promotion wasn’t exactly on top of their To-Do list.

I don’t think I’ve seen Alex Turner since the morning they had acquiesced to play “Dance Floor” on KROQ for Kevin & Bean, where Alex noted that I was “older than me mum” and, when asked by Bean how he felt about being at KROQ in the wee-ish hours responded something like, “That’s why I started a band, so I could do this.” I still love Arctic Monkeys, and have remained very close to the Domino team, even as they partnered with bigger labels for subsequent releases, until regaining sole custody of AM, which was distributed by ADA, and worked by their team.

I wanted to get the perspective of my dear friend Kris Gillespie, GM of Domino North America, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys since their debut, regarding why this distinctively  British band has succeeded in becoming one of the biggest touring and radio bands in the U.S., surpassed by only Muse and Coldplay among their countrymen. Kris said there were three or four factors that came into play, including the band’s decision to move to L.A., plus their time spent with Josh Homme, who worked on their third album, and the extensive time spent on tour with The Black Keys.

Kris and I agreed that Arctic Monkeys are among the few bands whose fanbase trickled down from the early adopters and so-called “cool kids” to their younger brothers and sisters, before the mainstream audience caught on.  

Another huge consideration was their growth as a live band, with Alex ramping it up as a frontperson, plus an appreciable addition of stage production as the venues expanded. The band’s willingness, post-debut, to play the “radio game” also definitely helped their cause.

Kris and I agreed that Arctic Monkeys are among the few bands whose fanbase trickled down from the early adopters and so-called “cool kids” to their younger brothers and sisters, before the mainstream audience caught on.  It happened with the Violent Femmes and Vampire Weekend, Artic Monkeys and now, as we speak of the BRIT Awards, nominees Alt-J, who have captured the hearts and minds of the under-18 crowd, whether or not their songs are radio hits.

My prediction for the 2016 BRITs is that Domino’s The Bohicas will be among the new U.K. bands nominated. And maybe, fingers crossed, I’ll even be there.


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