Breaking News
  • April 265/7-5/8: Senior Exams
  • April 265/10: No School
  • April 265/13: Graduation
  • April 265/27: No School
  • April 266/3-6/5: Half Days for Exams
The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Arctic Monkeys’ song “Body Paint” is a commentary on the band and lead singer Alex Turner

Arctic Monkeys album cover for their recent album: The Car

“​Body Paint” is one of the biggest songs off the Arctic Monkeys most recent album, The Car. This album built upon the stylistic change the band took on their previous album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, leaving their fanbase split on whether or not they like the new sound. The Car comments on several topics; most were pretty clear on whether they’re talking about the band’s stylistic changes or the band members’ personal lives, but “Body Paint” has remained mostly as a big question mark on the album, with most listeners unsure of the topic or who he’s talking about in the song. Now, I am not claiming that I’ve figured it out, but I’m going to offer this up as a think piece about one of their most elusive songs and give my take on what it could be about.

​The song opens with some chords from an electric keyboard being played over a mellow jazz-like drum pattern until the keys cut out, and lead singer Alex Turner comes in over his piano and starts the song. The first two bars read, “For a master of deception and subterfuge / You’ve made yourself quite the bed to lie in.” The song comes off as if he’s speaking to someone or something. Mocking it for being such a master of deception, yet failing, and now having to lie in the bed it made itself.

Turner continues the song by then singing, “Do your time travelin’ through the tannin’ booth / So you don’t let the sun catch you cryin’.” The tanning booth represents both a literal tanning booth to hide aging and appear younger, and a metaphorical tanning booth to keep putting on his “costume” out of the public eye, which is represented by the sun. The chorus follows as he sings, “So predictable, I know what you’re thinkin’.” Turner is mocking it more, calling it predictable and easy to read. Following that, he talks about body paint for the first time, saying “Straight from the cover shoot / Still a trace of body paint / On your legs and on your arms and on your face.” He then mentions wearing a “costume” and calls it a writing tool as an excuse to not take it off. “And I’m keepin’ on my costume (keeping on) / I’m callin’ it a writin’ tool.” He goes into the refrain singing, “There’s still a trace of body paint / On your legs and on your arms and on your face,” over and over until he sings the final “So predictable, I know what you’re thinkin’.” And, the song ends.

​Now, what is the song about?  It comes off as maybe an introspective commentary about Turner’s public persona “costume” bleeding into his personal life, which is represented by the traces of body paint left over from the photo shoots. But, this isn’t the only meaning this song has. Looking at the song through a wide-angle lens, it becomes very clear. He’s talking to the band as if it’s an entity, talking to the Arctic Monkeys: the band and the image. He is commenting on its predictability in their past albums, which very rarely strayed away from the topics of relationships and lust. Lyrics like the tanning booth lines represent their attempts to hide from the fact that they’re aging as a band and aging as people, not wanting the “sun” to see them crying. The crying represents them not wanting the public to see them aging and changing as a band, being worried whether their new sounds or look will be embraced.

This is a topic Turner has talked about before in the press and songs. I think the common theme, being body paint, represents bands taking wild action to appear young and refusing to mature or change, resorting to wild stunts or permanent changes to keep their image up. This is a path the Arctic Monkeys could’ve taken, instead of evolving as a group. Overall, “Body Paint” is a commentary on the band, on Turner himself, and on an amazing song.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Sydney Fentzke
Sydney Fentzke, Staff Writer
Sydney is a senior entering her first year on The Central Trend. Most of Sydney's time is spent creating art; she decided to join Writing for Publication to broaden her creative horizon and add a new art form to her belt. Sydney looks forward to graduating and attending an art school in the future, she hopes to attend the Penny W. Stamps school at the University of Michigan to get a BFA In Art and Design. Sydney's free time is spent playing video games, listening to music, hanging out with friends, playing lacrosse, sleeping, or working. Favorite art medium: clay Favorite movie: Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli Known Art Forms: ceramics, painting, drawing, photography, photoshop, stained glass, needle felting, and digital drawing

Comments (0)

All The Central Trend Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *