The Darkness siblings Justin and Dan Hawkins recently looked back at their signature hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” with singer Justin saying it referenced the main addiction of his life.
Taken from their debut album Permission to Land, the song became a global success in 2003, but the pair told The Guardian in a recent interview they had much more humble ambitions when they were writing it.
“I can’t remember who said it, but we were having a conversation along the lines of, ‘Why don’t we just write the stupidest song ever?’” Dan said. “I expected us all to feel embarrassed playing it. But everyone was singing along to the chorus the second time it came around. We looked at each other and thought, ‘This is it. It’s staying.’”
Justin recalled the band’s manager telling them, “That’s a hit, that is,” after hearing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” at a rehearsal. “We didn’t labor over it,” he recalled. “We didn’t toil and look for the ultimate riff. I was just following my fingers, really. … Things that are cartoonish and ridiculous – that’s my raison d’etre. The ridiculous things that the Darkness do are tempered by Dan’s actual good taste. For me to be turned on, it’s got to have something in it that makes him go, ‘You can’t do that.’”
He added that he “was almost on a pathological quest to put ‘love’ in every single song. Bands were afraid to actually talk about love. But the huge songs, the ones that really get you in the heart, they’re actually talking about it and they’re using the word “love”. I’m always in love, that’s the reality. It’s one of the first and most abiding addictions of my life.”
Watch the Darkness’ ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ Video
Dan Hawkins remembered working to achieve a “supertight” arrangement, adding that “it’s almost signposted – you know where it’s going the moment it starts. You know what it’s all about. A lot of the best songs are like that.” He also said there was a reason a crab appears in the video: “It was a reference to when you’ve taken lots of cocaine and your eyes are basically on stalks. It has appeared on numerous occasions throughout our career.”
More seriously, Dan said he was perturbed when the single returned to the chart in North America as a result of touring activities. “We never considered ourselves a singles band, which was why that song was a problem for me in the first place,” he explained. “For me, the Darkness was about albums and being an incredible rock band. I wasn’t bothered about being popular.”
But he listed moments they’d played the song to 400,000 at a European festival and Lady Gaga fans in South America, noting, “Everything about the song pushes positivity. It just feels great to play.” Justin agreed: “My goal has always been to get every pair of hands in the air. And often that was the case. … Every time we play it, the place kicks off and I feel relief because I can play it on autopilot. Even now, people sing it at me in the street. I’ll never have anything but abiding affection for that song.”
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