I am one of the Apple sheeple that the Samsung Galaxy Note commercial was dogging on, yet I simply loved this commercial, which ended up winning the Super Bowl of Ad Contests yesterday. Yeah, the Clint Eastwood one was great and powerful. The Seinfeld one succeeded in making me feel my age. (Jerry’s grey hair really struck a chord with me…), and the hilarious anti-Twilight Audi commercial pure genius. In fact, if I wasn’t writing this article for my music blog, then it would have probably won the Super Bowl of Ad Contests instead. It was Justin Hawkins though, and his crazy 70 rock/hair metal parody/tribute/revitalization band’s “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” power ballad, which is still potent (surprisingly) 8 years after it debuted, that really served as the perfect anthem for the perfect feel good commercial. I remember turning to some of my friends during the commercial and remarking how “The Darkness represents everything that is antithetical to my music tastes, but man I sure did enjoy that album.” So much in fact, that since I saw that commercial yesterday, that song has been stuck in my head, and that album has been cued up on my iPhone all day.
Bobby Farrelly (half of the Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber dynamic directing duo) directed the spot, so it already had more going for it than it deserved, but it was that song that really put it over the top. Yes, Hawkins and The Darkness are on the comeback trail this year, so the timing on bringing back this classic of a misplaced classic was…suspect…to say the least, but I’ll totally take guitar heavy Darkness music over any other elevator-like commercial background music. I mean nothing beats well played electric guitar, obviously. When I heard the first licks of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” I wanted to shout “GUITAR” much like Hawkins does in the song. Thankfully, I didn’t…
So, just what is it about The Darkness, and “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” specifically that makes this Gen X musical purist, who wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Motley Crew (who also showed up in a Super Bowl ad), love this band and song so much? The humor that Hawkins and his mates deliver so convincingly, and that most of us here in the colonies simply don’t get (some thought The Darkness and Permission to Land was a dead on serious hair metal revival band and album while others thought they were nothing more than a parody band) is really just another example of us Yanks inventing something and the Brits doing it better. (Kinda like rock and roll in general). By this I don’t mean humor in and of itself of course, I’m referring to hair metal, and metal guitar in the first place. Honestly, our English cousins really had no reason to build upon the debacle that was hair metal (the Def Leppard mistake aside) since it really was a pretty awful genre to begin with. No, they waited until hair metal had run its course here in the colonies and actually became a joke, as well as a source of nostalgia, THEN decided to beat us at our own game in two ways. The Darkness are one of the best 70s rock/hair metal bands ever, while simultaneously being one of the most straight faced and ironic hair metal parody bands ever as well. Hawkins and The Darkness struck at the perfect time, both paying tribute to and totally making fun of hair metal, while simultaneously writing some of the best hair metal songs ever. Yeah, as in the tradition of The Beatles, those bloody Brits get pop culture upper hand, once again.
Whether or not they really are what I’m giving them credit here for being, The Darkness are a one of a kind type of band. They’re the type of band that the rock and alt-rock world could really use more of right now: talented musicians who can really wail, are unique, and actually have a modicum of artistic integrity. Here’s my vote for The Darkness to finally and truly conquer America. Hopefully their brand of Monty Python hair metal humor will finally catch on and thrive over here, as it should.