In this song, Justin Hawkins and his rampaging falsetto are over the moon in love with a special someone. The song is a striking throwback to glam rock, with a visual presentation that makes it clear this isn't to be taken too seriously. The Darkness were both a savior and a send-up of rock and roll. Many were confused, but also very amused.
The lyrics to this one may seem nonsensical, but they connect in their own way. "Some of the most stupid stuff is the ones that people sing at you, and that always makes me smile," Justin Hawkins said in a Songfacts interview
. "Things like, 'My heart's in overdrive and you're behind the steering wheel.' That's just daft. But in the right way, it's not too stupid, and it's not clever-clever stupid. Just daft. And that's quite uplifting, I think. Or it makes people feel like they're part of something innocent and pure.
I think that's quite challenging actually, because being daft in the right way is very difficult. I've only done it well a couple of times. That's probably one of them."
The New York Times wrote that this song "sticks to the listener like hair gel."
The British magazine Classic Rock named this as their Greatest Rock Song of the '00s. The band's frontman Justin Hawkins commented: "All The Darkness ever tried to do was bring a little joy into the glorious realm of rock, but 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' crossed over big time and changed our lives forever. To have been awarded 'Song Of The Decade' is overwhelming and I'm very grateful to Classic Rock for everything."
The band's former guitarist, Dan "Stone Gods" Hawkins, told Classic Rock the story of the song: "'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' was such an important song for The Darkness, but when we wrote it I really wasn't sure about it. The chorus is so stupidly catchy, I thought people were just gonna take it as a complete joke! Right from the start, this song stuck out like a sore thumb. It's at the Def Leppard/Queen end of what we did, whereas 90% of our stuff was inspired by 1970s AC/DC. And Aerosmith. And Thin Lizzy. Oh, I could go on!
Writing it was a real collaborative effort. Me and Frankie (Poullain, bassist) shared a top-floor flat in Primrose Hill in London, which sounds posh, but trust me, it was a s--thole! Justin (Hawkins, guitarist/vocalist) would come over and the three of us would write in this flat, jamming on an acoustic, cos we couldn't afford to write in a rehearsal room. When we wrote 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love', we had some booze, smoked some 'Joe', and tried to write the most '80s song we could. We started with the riff, which Justin came up with. It sounded really great right away. But when he sang the chorus for the first time, I just said, 'No, you can't do that – it sounds ridiculous!' I really thought people would just laugh at us when they heard it. So for the rest of the song, I tried to make it sound cool, more 'rock.' The rest of the song is all in minor key.
Back in 2003 when this song was released as a single, you never heard a guitar solo on the radio. But this song was designed to have guitar breaks in it. It was built towards the solos as much as the chorus.
I was so unsure that we debated about playing the song live. But as soon as we did, people loved it. It's party music, and it just gets people going."
Director Alex Smith originally shot a low-budget music video with the band at his house and around a supermarket. Given a bigger budget, he shot a second, space-themed clip with Justin Hawkins performing in front of a wall of Marshall amps before the band's spaceship gets attacked by a giant squid. This became the official video.
"When we first did it, we were just kind of running around with a camera, trying stuff out with a video director called Alex Smith, who is a friend of our stylist, who is someone we grew up with," Justin Hawkins told Songfacts. "So, it was just a way of him introducing himself to us and showing us how creative and cool he is. And we were trying to impress him.
It went really well. He stole a lot of the effects from Big Trouble In Little China. It was really cool. The original video was mostly shot in a market down the way from his. At one point, I was singing into a sausage.
And then we remade it, but with the full realization of what we were trying to put across, with genuine props and interiors that were built by carpenters, and monsters and the spaceship and everything. But the one thing that remained - the one prop that we kept from both shoots - was the sausage. The garlic sausage. Which probably by the third time we reshot it was really quite fizzy, I'd imagine.
But also, do you remember the old Doctor Who, with everything about Daleks and K9? Well, the guy who created K9 and a lot of the Doctor Who props and characters and puppets, his name is John Friedlander. But the guy who made the pterodactyl and the spaceship for us was Jim Friedlander, and that's his son. 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. It was all real things - we didn't do any CGI stuff. We did old-fashioned, British science-fiction stuff."
The Darkness were very popular in their native UK in 2003 and 2004, but this is their only song that had much impact in America. Radio stations had a hard time with it because bereft of the visual element, it turned off listeners. But MTV was another matter. The network put the campy video into rotation, making it their most-played video of the first week of February 2004. By this time, The Darkness had a run of hits in the UK and were collecting awards like the BRIT for Best Group. Observer Music Monthly named them Band of 2003, which Justin Hawkins called "proof that our music appeals to the lowest common denominator and the highest."
The group released their follow-up album in 2005 and imploded a year later when Hawkins quit to tame his drug habit. They didn't return until 2011.
In the UK, The Darkness released this independently in August 2002 when they couldn't secure a record deal. With no promotional might to push it, the song went nowhere. The group had sizable crowds at their shows and got lots of buzz, but labels weren't sold on their act. Finally, Atlantic Records signed them and issued "Get Your Hands Off My Woman
" as their first single on the label. Next came "Growing On Me
," and then a fresh release of "I Believe In A Thing Called Love." This time, it climbed to #2 behind another love-ly song: "Where Is The Love?
" by The Black Eyed Peas.
Samsung used this song in a 90-second commercial for their Galaxy Note smartphone that ran on the 2012 Super Bowl. In the spot, a disaffected girl presumably in line to buy an iPhone sees the Note and says, "I don’t know what I believe in anymore." Like a genie, Justin Hawkins of The Darkness appears and begins performing this song. The Darkness went on hiatus in 2006, but reformed in 2011. Their first single after their break was "Nothin's Gonna Stop Us
," released shortly before the Super Bowl spot.
Taylor Swift rocks out and lip-syncs to the track as if nobody's watching in an Apple Music advert
. Apparently, the songstress is an old fan of The Darkness. "Taylor Swift used to come to a lot of our shows back in the day, frontman Justin Hawkins told Billboard
magazine. It's good to see she hasn't given up on her roots! Take it to the bridge, Swiftmeisteress!"