Meet The Band Who Wrote “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”

Embodying facets of 1970s glam, ’80s hair metal, and arena-level rock, The Darkness‘ 2003 hit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” revealed something that may have been missing in rock for a long time.

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“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” also showed the depths of how far the British rockers could go to prove their love for more bombastic rock the likes of Van Halen and AC/DC with a touch of Sweet.

The Meaning of Love

Initially written by frontman Justin Hawkins and on the band’s debut, Permission to Land, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” was foremost about being head over heels in love with someone.

Right from the start, the powered-up lyrics worked around accidental alliterations and vehicular movements.

Can’t explain all the feelings that you’re making me feel
My heart’s in overdrive and you’re behind the steering wheel

“The very first thing that I said when I opened my mouth was all that steering wheel stuff,” said Hawkins. “I was thinking about an old car that my dad had restored, which had an overdrive button that made it go a little bit faster or put more fuel into it. It wasn’t supposed to be about guitar distortion, it was more a button on the dashboard of love. It was one for the petrol heads. Then I really enjoyed pairing ‘feelings’ with ‘feel,’ I just thought that was a really fun way of saying it.”

Further in, the lyrics express all the excitement over a touch, a kiss, and any form of physical contact.

I wanna kiss you every minute, every hour, every day
You got me in a spin but everything is a-okay

Touching you, touching me
Touching you ’cause you’re touching me

By the chorus, Hawkins’ soaring falsetto reaches its climax.

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, hoo-ooh

Collaborative Effort

The song was pieced together at the apartment (flat) that Dan Hawkins and bassist Frankie Poullain were sharing at the time in London. Feeling pressured to come up with a good song, Justin played off a riff he had in his head, and then the words came.

“I had no idea what I was going to do after that and just followed my fingers around the frets,” said Hawkins. “It was such a preposterous riff that it made everyone in the room laugh. Once we got playing it I just sang along to it and the verse was there.”

Believing in Love

From the start one thing was certain about the song: the title had to include the word “love.”

“I had this thing in my head that if we had songs with ‘Love’ in the title we’d be successful,” shared Hawkins. “There were a lot of bands that were trying not to write about love, or they were writing about love but without saying the word, like they were too cool to say it.”

Lost in Space

Accompanying the song was a fantastical video, directed by Alex Smith, featuring Justin Hawkins in a David Lee Roth-worthy white jumpsuit and stuck in a very Doctor Who setting. Performing on a spacecraft, ridiculous scenes cut to Hawkins gyrating on a red planet, coming in contact with otherworldly beasts, and holding up paper-mache-like boulders.

Coincidentally, Jim Friedlander—the son of John Friedlander, the visual effects designer for the old Doctor Who series—also designed the pterodactyl, spaceship, and other props seen in the video.

“He was the son of the guy who created the Daleks, and he came and did our spaceship and beasts that you see in there,” said Hawkins. “It was all real things. We didn’t do any CGI stuff. We did old-fashioned, British science-fiction stuff.”

Peak Performance

Upon its release, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” peaked at No. 1 in the U.K. and hit the top 10 of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

“It’s still the first name on the team sheet when it comes to writing a set and it’s a joyous moment in the set that’s never going to be beaten,” shared Justin Hawkins. “That song gave me a lot and provided us with a lot of opportunities and it’s the reason why I still work. A hit like that can go a long way to maintaining a career. Just having that song means there’s always going to be a glimmer of hope for us.”

Photo by Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns

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