The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”

Released: 3.17.03

Peak: #35 [Mainstream Rock]

Fewer rock stars walked among us in the ’00s, yet never has the rock-star been so overburdened an object of comparison. A rock star is now something you act like, or dress like, or are treated like. You party like a rock star, collect rock star Barbies, are cheered like a rock star. And in 2003, no band seemed more like rock stars than the Darkness.

So naturally, the united sourpusses of America, who consider Rock serious capitalized business, balked. After all, Chris Cornell would never sing “I want to kiss you every minute, every hour, every day,” or at least he wouldn’t rhyme that line with “A-OK.” To deploy harmonized Boston licks and screaming-angel vocals, to chirp a giddy “gee-tar!” before a solo –it was as though these pleasures were somehow fraudulent because the band betrayed such self-awareness. It is the duty of every great American rock band after all, to pretend to invent the clichés they recycle.

These hip fops’ deliberate posing posed few issues in the less authenticity-vexed U.K., where glam had long before rendered “rock star” a form of behavioral drag (and rendered redundant any quotation marks around the term). Hawkins may have partied all too much like a rock star and wound up in rehab, but not before the Darkness repeated this trick on the unjustly ignored One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back. And their ultimate deterioration proved that no matter how much their metal paraphernalia suggested Spinal Tap, the Darkness weren’t parodists. Their determination was to embody rockstaritude to its fullest, even if the joke was ultimately on them.

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