I Believe in a Thing Called Love
June 2nd, 2016
Todd: So, recently I decided to sell a few requests for One Hit Wonderland on Patreon again. You know, just randomly, on a whim, just thought I'd sell some favors, no real reason.
- Clip from The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2015
- Todd: The IRS? Actually maybe I should answer to that...No! No! I don't give a fuck! I don't give a fuck!
Todd: Eh-heh. Anyway, it actually sold out, like, in four minutes. Like, so quickly that I wound up honoring more requests than I originally intended. So for pretty much the rest of the year, One Hit Wonderland is gonna be requests. Yay, you guys give me such, uh...interesting requests, most of them not one-hit wonders, so this should be...this should be fun. Let's see what the first person sent me.
- Patreon post by Maikol: Arrow first points to "Land down under by men at work"
Not a one-hit wonder.
- Arrow points to "Pop goes the weasel by third base"
- Arrow finally points at...
Oh, oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. Here we go, here we go. That's the good stuff. God, I love my fans.
Todd plays the intro for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" on the piano.
THE DARKNESS - I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE
A one-hit wonder retrospective
- Video for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland...yeah, yeah, yeah. The Darkness!
- Justin Hawkins: I believe in a thing called love
Todd: [singing along] Just listen to the rhythm of my heart
- Justin: There's a chance we can make it now
- We'll be rocking 'til the sun goes down
Todd: I believe in a... [gives up, coughing] Won't be trying that again.
Todd (VO): Anyway, let me take you back to 2003—the single best year ever for music because I was 19, and music will never sound as good to me again. And a big part of it was this band. The Darkness! In fact, it kind of pains me to be including this band in the show because they are...
Todd: ...certainly more than one-hit wonders to me. Although I do concede that, to most of you, they are not.
Todd (VO): They should be so much more than that. A goofy, retro-'80s metal band with kick-ass guitar and a leotard-wearing frontman with a bad case of British teeth and a falsetto into the stratosphere?! Who couldn't love them?!
Todd: Well, actually, quite a few people didn't like them at all. A lot of people thought their goofiness and irony made them incredibly obnoxious.
Todd (VO): I was not one of them. Because goofy or not, they had conviction. Whether you treated them as a novelty or not, you could still headbang to them totally sincerely.
Todd: And nothing sounded like this. It was so awesome. I mean, there were a few retro rock bands out there, but they were, you know, like [brief clip of...] Buckcherry and stuff like that. Bands that were trying for something more serious, not the Darkness...
Todd (VO): ...who were more inspired by the kind of music that requires you to wear skintight spandex jumpers. Something that squeezes your testes hard enough for you to hit the high notes.
- Justin: Ha-ah-ah-ah-ah!
Todd (VO): Like I said, most of you, you don't remember them for anything but this one song, at least if you're American, and especially if you're the average age of [picture of baby at computer] one of my fans.
Todd: They believed in the thing called love; why didn't we believe in them?
- Justin: Ooh-ooh-ooh
Before the hit
Todd: The Darkness!
- Live performance of "Black Shuck" at Open Air St. Gallen
Todd (VO): Frankie Poullain on bass, Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums, Dan Hawkins on guitar, and his brother, on lead vocals, the man with the voice to shatter your windows, the one, the only, Justin Hawkins!
- The Darkness: Black shuck
- Black shuck
- Black shuck
- Black shuck
- Black shuck
Todd (VO): In fact, in my research, I found some of his...
Todd: ...early solo work, the stuff that would send him on his road to heavy metal stardom.
- Clip of Ikea commercial with logo at end
- Justin: Shlompin' is for you
- Shlompin is for me
- When I shlomp, I be at one with the gravity
- Starts with an S
- Ends in a P
- When we shlomp, we can be at one with the gravity
Todd: What the hell was that?
- Live performance at Reading
Todd (VO): Okay, after his career writing inane jingles for Ikea, he started his band.
Todd: Spell it out!
- Justin: Gimme a D!
- Justin: Gimme an R!
- Video for "Get Your Hands off My Woman"
Todd (VO): Now, like a lot of bands I cover on this show, they were a much bigger deal in their home country than they were over here. This is their first single, "Get Your Hands off of My Woman." [sic]
- Justin: Get your hands off my woman, motherfucker
- Get your hands off my woman, motherfucker
Todd (VO): It wasn't huge, but it did start getting them their buzz, and it's a real crowd favorite in concerts. This is actually one of my less favorite Darkness songs, honestly. I mean, the ingredients are there, you know. It's fun, it's silly, crunching guitars, ear-splitting falsetto, but it doesn't really work for me.
Todd: It's mostly an excuse to yell "motherfucker" at the top of your lungs.
- Justin: [drawing it out] Motherfucker!
Todd: I'm much more of a fan of their follow-up, "Growing on Me."
- Video for "Growing on Me"
- Justin: 'Cause everywhere I go, you're there
- I can't get you out of my hair
Todd (VO): As you can see, they are really starting to build their image with the more self-consciously ironic music videos. It's getting there. It's not quite perfect yet, but you know, they do land in pods when their spaceship crashes because a pterodactyl has sex with it.
- Justin: You're really growing on me
- You're really growing on me
Todd (VO): Now I love this song. Lyrically, it's not, like, anything groundbreaking, it's pretty straightforward, it's a love song. Although, there were rumors that it was a reference to STDs, 'cause a lot of people are goddamn idiots.
Todd: It's already a novelty band, you don't have to impose your own terrible attempts at humor onto them.
Todd (VO): Off this album, I'd also recommend "Black Shuck." The whole album is good. But there's one moment on it...
Todd: ...that outshone all the rest.
The big hit
- Video for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
Todd (VO): This is how most of us in this country were introduced to The Darkness.
Todd: We didn't get to watch them climb that mountain; we started right at the peak.
- Justin: Can't explain all the feelings that you're making me feel
Todd (VO): The Darkness's biggest song is also easily their best. Nothing encapsulated what made them great better than this song. I honestly don't know what else I could add to this. It's one of those songs that's just so boringly perfect that there's not really a lot to say about it.
Todd: It rocked. What else do you want to know?
- Justin: I believe in a thing called love
Todd (VO): In fact, this was a good time in general for bands who wanted to make hard rock that was so over the top, it went past ironic and back into, like, sincere again. I mean, we had [brief respective clips of "Party Hard" and "Danger High Voltage" by...] Andrew WK, we had Electric 6. And it's worth noting that I actually didn't hear those acts much on the rock stations, which did still exist back then. I heard about The Darkness entirely through word of mouth.
Todd: The only retro rock band from overseas they had time for was [clip of "Roll Over DJ" by...] Jet, 'cause why play a band that actually has their own sound when you could listen to those talentless hacks shit up the place. Jet flat sucked, everyone. Good riddance.
- Justin: You got me in a spin, but everything is A-OK.
Todd (VO): And look, yes, for you small portion of Darkness haters, yes, I get that they were kind of a joke. On one level, comparing the [picture of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page] original metal gods to them is like comparing [posters of...] Jaws to Sharknado. But the important thing is that, even though they sounded silly, they still put everything they had into it.
Todd: This will get me executed in some circles, but...
- Clip of "Tribute" by...
Todd (VO): ...I never really liked Tenacious D. They never backed up their silly posturing with any real muscle. Tenacious D were trying to sound stupid.
The Darkness don't care if they sound stupid. That's a crucial difference.
Todd: Really, isn't that what The Darkness's heroes were about? Being unafraid of looking ridiculous?
Todd (VO): Being a joke band is okay. Look at their most obvious influence: Queen.
- Clip of "Bohemian Rhapsody"
- Queen: He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Todd (VO): Queen were a joke band a lot of the time. If you had never heard of them...
Todd: ..."Scaramouche, scaramouche, do the fandango" would be the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard.
Todd (VO): But it works because they believed in themselves, just like The Darkness.
Todd: And any band that introduces a kick-ass guitar solo by shouting "guitar!" is alright in my book.
- Justin: Guitar!
Todd (VO): And the music video, of course, they absolutely nailed. It was everything I could've hoped for. The outfits, the cheesy special effects, everything works, except...maybe the drummer there. Pfft, what is it? He's not even trying. Come on, dude, you're in...
Todd: ...The Darkness. A t-shirt isn't gonna cut it.
Todd (VO): And then it all ends with a guitar solo awesome enough to kill alien monsters, which is honestly how I imagined awesome guitar solos already. Yeah, this is literally how I imagined my favorite songs when I was 15. Let's face it.
Todd: It was all downhill from here.
The failed follow-up
- Video for "Love Is Only a Feeling"
Todd: I was never really clear why they picked this as their follow-up single.
- Justin (backed by band): Love is only a feeling (drifting away)
Todd (VO): I guess that's a total metal move, you know: release the power ballad after you've established your rock credentials. But still, is this really what people wanted from this band? It's so...
Todd (VO): And the video? I mean... I...I guess the Indian getup, that's kinda charmingly early '90s cheesy, but still, posing on a cliff? What is this, a Creed video? Where's the aliens and shit?
Todd: If you ask me, the song they should've released after this was "Friday Night"...
- Video for "Friday Night"
Todd (VO): ...which was more, you know, like Cheap Trick-style power pop.
- Justin: Monday, Tuesday
- Wednesday, Thursday
- Dancing on a Friday night
Todd (VO): I do love this song. It's so very innocent. They did, in fact, shoot a video for it, which is halfway between funny on purpose and just kinda stupid by itself. But for some reason, it never got released.
- Justin: Hey you!
- Could you ever fall for me
- Oh, the way I fell for you
Todd (VO): I don't know why; I really loved it. It's actually the sincerest and least jokey of their songs. It's a shame because it was clearly more in line with what the people wanted than "Love Is Only a Feeling." Look, it even continues the story from the last video. Like I said, it's not hard to tell why we dropped them so quickly: they just looked like a novelty.
Todd: But in the UK, they were a big, big deal.
- Clips from the 2004 Brit Awards
- Martin Kemp: Best British Band... Oh, my favorite band, The Darkness!
- Jamelia: ...is presented to The Darkness.
- Scarlett Johansson: Oh, my God, it's Permission to Land, The Darkness.
Todd (VO): They were poised to go all the way. They even had a...
Todd: ...Christmas song that was huge.
- Clip of "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)"
- Justin: Don't let the bells end
- Christmas time
Todd (VO): I wouldn't mind hearing this on the holidays rather than the billionth airing of "Wonderful Christmastime." Tragically, it did not become the UK Christmas #1. It lost out to [clip of...] Gary Jules's overrated "Mad World," which I think is kind of funny, but mostly kinda sad.
Todd: But then their second album happened.
- Video for "One Way Ticket"
- Justin: Bought a one way ticket to hell and back
- One way ticket to hell and back
- Bought a one way ticket...
Todd (VO): This is "One Way Ticket to Hell and Back," the title track from their second album. To be clear, I still like the band at this point, but...
Todd: ...yeah, maybe they were [picture of Spinal Tap] overdoing it at this point with the comedy.
- Justin: But my septum is in tatters and I've still got the runs
Todd (VO): I mean, get it?
Todd: "One way ticket to hell and back"? [chuckles] One-way tickets don't go to a place and back, you dummies.
- Clip of "Is It Just Me?"
Todd (VO): For all the criticism they got for being over the top, obnoxious irony peddlers, Justin Hawkins was out to prove that his love of playing metal was entirely authentic by adopting a completely sincere, totally unironic...
Todd: ...classic rock style cocaine problem.
- Clip of interview with Justin on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
- Justin: ...jinsters every fortnight.
- Clip of "Girlfriend"
Todd (VO): And for a joke band, he also started getting way too big for his spandex britches. He started talking [screenshots of articles: "Justin Hawkins and Lemmy in War of Words!" and "Justin: UK music is a joke"] shit about every other British band that existed at the time. Just, like... everybody. He even called [brief clip of...] Pete Doherty from the Libertines a [screenshot of Gigwise article about...] "waste of space junkie." Which...that's hypocritical, although absolutely true.
- Clip of live performance at Rock am Ring
Naturally, there was a lot of drama going on in the band. They've been pretty tight-lipped about the details, but apparently, it was pretty bad. But eventually, Hawkins checked into rehab, and the first thing he did once he got clean and sober was to leave the band. The official statement from the band was that they were in a spin, but that everything would be A-OK.
Todd: Literally, that's in the press release.
Did they ever do anything else?
- Clip of Stone Gods - "Start of Something"
Todd (VO): Well, the remaining members kept at it. They changed their names to the Stone Gods, the bass player started singing lead. They got decent reviews, I understand, but quite frankly, I was not impressed. This is the kind of stodgy, boring rock music that made people start forgetting about rock 'n roll. This is exactly the opposite of what made The Darkness so great. [Clip of "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"] And Justin did some solo work, but eventually, yes, good news.
Todd: They got back together.
- Clip of "Everybody Have a Good Time"
Todd (VO): After a five-year hiatus, Hawkins apparently felt stable enough to bury the hatchet, and they have reunited. Their time in the superstar spotlight's forgotten, obviously, but I have a feeling that they're one of those bands who will be able to keep playing for as long as they want, enjoyed by a good crowd of loyal fans. In 2012, they even opened for another glam-loving act: [promo pic of Justin and...] Lady Gaga, which...
Todd: ...makes way more sense than it should.
- Clip of "Last of Our Kind"
- Darkness: Children
- We are the last of our kind
Todd (VO): They're a remarkably consistent band. You know, like AC/DC or the Ramones. They know what they're about, and they just keep making kick-ass music for as long as they can.
Todd: Do you like throwback cock rock with an over the top falsetto? Well, have I got a band for you!
Did they deserve better?
Todd: Uh, yes!
Todd (VO): It is not hard to figure out why The Darkness didn't stay huge. They were treated like a novelty. They treated themselves like a novelty. But they were still awesome. I don't expect them to ever have another hit, and quite honestly, even if this were the only song they ever released, I'd be fine with it because it's just so perfectly them.
Todd: The Darkness. [flashes the horns] Rock on.
- Video ends
Closing tag song: Postmodern Jukebox ft. Maiya Sykes - "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" is owned by Atlantic Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!
- ↑ This is actually Ed Graham. Rufus Tiger Taylor did not join until 2015