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Music / The Darkness

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The Darkness circa 2012. From left to right: Dan Hawkins, Justin Hawkins, Ed Graham and Frankie Poullain
The first flush of youth was upon you when our eyes first met,
And I knew that to you and into your life I had to get.
I felt light-headed at the touch of this stranger's hand...
An assault my defences systematically failed to withstand.
"Love Is Only A Feeling"

The Darkness are a British glam rock band formed in 2000 in Lowestoft, Suffolk. The band consists of Justin Hawkins (lead vocals, guitar), his brother Dan Hawkins (backing vocals, guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass, backing vocals) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums). Former members include drummers Ed Graham and Emily Dolan Davies, and bassist Richie Edwards.

Before The Darkness, Justin and Dan were in a band named Empire. In this case, Dan was the lead singer and Justin was on guitar. Justin managed to become lead singer after doing an amazing version of Bohemian Rhapsody at a karaoke party, which reportedly involved many starjumps. It's around this time they left Empire behind and began focusing on a new project: The Darkness.

They called in Ed Graham to play Drums, and they met Frankie Poullain in London. They began doing the pub circuit to moderate success; their shows were so good they had a place in a music festival lineup before they had their first album. The British press went nuts, considering The Darkness as no more than a mediocre joke who would burn out in a few weeks.

And then they released Permission to Land. It was a smash hit.

After the second album, One Way Ticket... To Hell And Back, Justin checked himself into rehab for his cocaine habit. Despite the band announcing a third album by the end of 2007, Justin got out of rehab and chose to leave the group, effectively breaking up The Darkness. They reunited in 2011 over an Indian dinner, and since then have performed and released new music like clockwork.

Not to be confused with the comic The Darkness, nor its video game adaptation.

Studio Discography

  • Permission to Land (2003)
  • One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back (2005)
  • Hot Cakes (2012)
  • Last of Our Kind (2015)
  • Pinewood Smile (2017)
  • Easter is Cancelled (2019)
  • Motorheart (2021)

Trope is only a feeling :

  • Audience Participation Song: All of them.
  • Author Appeal: It's safe to say that at least someone in the band really likes the movie Hawk the Slayer, since they've incorporated dialogue from it into two of their songs: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" samples an audio from it, while "Last Of Our Kind" directly works the dialogue into the lyrics.
  • The Band Minus the Face: The "One Way Ticket" line up (with a new bassist, since Richie Edwards moved up to playing rhythm guitar and lead vocals) formed Stone Gods after Justin Hawkins left the band. Also inverted, since Justin formed Hot Legs during the break up. Both released one album each, Silver Spoons & Broken Bones and Red Light Fever respectively, before the reunion.
  • Band of Relatives: The band's key members are guitarists Justin and Dan Hawkins.
  • Big Word Shout: The solo for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" is brought in after an enthusiastic "GUITAR!"
  • The Cameo: Arthur Brown appears as the priest in the video for "Is It Just Me".
  • Camp: The band feeds on camp. Bright glammy outfits, stratospheric falsettos, and a refusal to take themselves too seriously.
  • Changed for the Video: The video for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" uses a different mix to the album version.
  • Cover Version: Used to do various covers during live shows, ranging from AC/DC to Queen to Radiohead. They included a cover of the latter's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" on Hot Cakes.
  • Christmas Songs: "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)", "I am Santa".
  • Credits Gag: In the video for "Everybody Have A Good Time".
  • Darker and Edgier: Last of Our Kind is musically heavier than their first three albums, and it has darker themes including the Real Life Viking pillage of East Anglia, slavery, and mudslides.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Subverted by "Growing On Me": all signs point to it being about some sort of STD, but The Darkness has said that was not the focus of the song at all - though they did say it was about genital warts in 2004 on Australian television show, Rage.
    • "Holding My Own" is a song about masturbation.
    • Subverted by "Mudslide", which could confuse some to be about a certain act, but it is about Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Lampshaded in the intro.
    This ain't no double entendre
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • "One Way Ticket" describes falling into drug addiction.
    The first line hit me like a kick in the face
    I thought "I'd better have another one just in case"
    Next thing I knew, my heart was under attack
    I bought a one way ticket to hell...and back.
    • Subverted with "Givin' Up" that takes a bizarrely cavalier look at advanced heroin addiction.
  • Extracurricular Enthusiast: The singer of "Friday Night" has a different activity every day until the dancing on the titular Friday Night.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Hazel Eyes" does this.
  • Genre Throwback: To the Hard Rock and Hair Metal of the '70s and '80s.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Justin beams down to a planet to fight one in the "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" video.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: A giant squid attacks The Darkness' spaceship in the video for "I Believe In A Thing Called Love".
  • Hair Metal: A throwback to the genre.
  • Happy Ending Override: The video for "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" ends with ship flying off after escaping the giant squid. "Friday Night" starts with them celebrating beating the squid but the ship immediately crashing into Earth.
  • Hard Rock: The band are this mixed with Glam Rock and Hair Metal.
  • Heavy Meta: The title song from Last of Our Kind, while on the surface appears to be literally about the last humans in a post-apocalyptic scenario, is about how the band and their fans are the last followers of classic rock.
  • Heavy Mithril: Many of the songs on Last of Our Kind invoke Middle Ages imagery, with Justin describing the album as "medieval rock". The title track includes paraphrased dialogue from Hawk the Slayer, a Sword and Sorcery movie from The '80s.
  • Horny Vikings: "Barbarian" describes the Viking invasion of East Anglia.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Justin once had a wardrobe rivaling Steven Tyler's, and Frankie always seems to dress like Jimi Hendrix to match his afro.
  • Incredibly Long Note: The last notes of "Black Shuck" and "Love On The Rocks With No Ice" are incredible.
  • In the Style of: "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", a dark Alternative Rock song by Radiohead, turned into Iron Maiden-esque Heavy Metal by the guys.
  • Lady Land: The video for "Friday Night" starts with the spaceship from "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" crash landing on an island inhabited by tribal women.
  • Large Ham: Justin, the excitable singer with the untethered falsetto.
  • Last of His Kind: The title track from Last of Our Kind, referring to the band and their fans as the last remaining followers of Classic Rock.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: Frontman Justin Hawkins is the one responsible for the faster and more "shredderific" guitar licks and solos, while his brother Dan plays rhythm guitar and slower more simple lead lines.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Zig-zagged with One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back. The album has softer, grander compositions and focuses more on love songs than Permission to Land. However it leads off with the title track, one of the few songs by the band to describe the hell of drug addiction.
    • Pinewood Smile dials the sonic heaviness back from Last of Our Kind and dips into Soul on "Why Don't the Beautiful Cry".
  • Loudness War: Regrettably usual offenders, as all of their albums are DR5/DR6, at least on their CD releases. One Way Ticket has the most audible digital distortion caused by compression, while Hot Cakes was recorded and edited entirely on tape and thus manages to sound the least over-compressed.
  • Music Video Overshadowing: "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" is just a declaration of love. The video is a Stylistic Suck recreation of old sci-fi movies.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: A male variation. Justin wears tights that cover his legs and arms but leave his chest bare.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: "Black Shuck" is about the phantom dog that's said to haunt the band's native Suffolk.
  • Pastiche: "Open Fire" is this to The Cult. The band noticed the lead riff sounded like it could be by early Cult, and them being fans decided to run with it.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Pink is used predominantly in the music video for the song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love", Justin Hawkins's hair dyed pink, there's pink lighting everywhere, pink smoke, a pink statue of two women fondling each other, and Hawkins fights a crab alien on a pink planet.
    "Touching you, touching me
    Touching you, God, you're touching me
    I believe in a thing called love
    Just listen to the rhythm of my heart
    There's a chance we could make it now
    We'll be rocking 'til the sun goes down
    I believe in a thing called love"
  • Power Ballad:
    • "Love Is Only A Feeling" and "Holding My Own" from Permission To Land.
    • "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" from One Way Ticket To Hell.
    • "Living Each Day Blind" and "Forbidden Love" from Hot Cakes.
    • "Wheels of the Machine", "Conquerors" and "Sarah O'Sarah" from Last of Our Kind.
  • Pun: These guys love puns.
    • "Love On The Rocks With No Ice" is both a drinking pun and relationship pun at the same time.
    • There's a clever joke at the start of the "Everybody Have A Good Time" video.
  • Reconstruction: Of 70s and 80s Hard Rock. A lot of people couldn't tell if they were joking or not and assumed they were an Affectionate Parody, but their love and dedication to old-school rock is genuine.
  • Sequel Song: The songs don't really match up but the video for "Friday Night" recaps the ending of "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and has the spaceship from that video crash landing on a planet.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Justin had to leave due to the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol he was consuming. At one point, he'd do a show before disappearing for days at a time, barely sleeping if at all. He cleaned up his addictions after the breakup, but as of the reunion there's still plenty of the sex and the Rock.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Holding My Own" includes the lyric "my life is so exciting now I've got Myspace."
    • In the video of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" a portrait of Queen can be seen.
    • Justin sings in "Every Inch of You" that hearing "Communication Breakdown" was the point where he wanted to go into music rather than become a doctor or vet.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Bassist Frankie Poullain sings lead on "Conquerors".
  • Stewed Alive: The video for "Friday Night" ends with cannibal natives cooking the band in a pot, though they're sitting like they're in a hot tub.
  • Super-Strength: Justin lifts a boulder above his head and lobs it at a Giant Enemy Crab in the "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" video.
  • Take That!: "Southern Trains" is one to the UK train system.
  • Tentacle Rope: The "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" video takes place aboard a spaceship attacked by a space squid.