Pete and I were both kind of slow adopters when it came to digital music. Still are, I guess, since we are the last underground band who still presses CDs. Back at the beginning during the five or so months during the spring semester of my last year of college (2001), I was taking one class and working almost full time on a grant project. The computer I was given for that job already had Napster on it and I reasoned that it was ok to download albums I already had so that I didn't have to drag a bunch of CDs along with me, but that's as far as I took it. It felt icky otherwise. Then a couple of years later we'd gotten a new laptop and Pete decided to sit down and figure out how to download music for free. The very first thing we downloaded had a massive virus and the laptop never really recovered. It eventually became the This Machine Kills Fascists laptop we used during live shows for YEARS and years but it couldn't do much else than play the EG backing track.
One day our friend Jeff was talking about some new music he heard and we were lamenting the fact that we felt weird about pirating music and besides we can't seem to do it without killing a computer and Jeff was like "you know what would work good for you guys? Apple iTunes." He explained that we could just download some software and buy songs for like a dollar apiece, so that if there was a one-off song that we just *wanted,* we could have it without going to a store or committing to having an overpriced CD single (fuck that, right?) in our home for the rest of our lives.
I bring this up because I think of the Darkness and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" as a perfect early-iTunes situation and I believe was one of the first tracks we bought on the platform. The song is excellent. SUPER excellent. And it seemed a straight-faced but ironic take on something maybe a little too recent to be retro but very worthy of an extremely competent parody. So like, I'm not at all interested in an entire album's worth of Darkness songs, I just want "I Believe" on repeat. And I could have it, "Jesus Walks," "Against All Odds," and "Boys of Summer" at my fingertips for the low, low price of just under $4. Amazing.
It goes without saying that this early take on digital music is quaint. Now I can listen to this song any time I want FOR FREE and enjoy the fucking outstanding video on top of it. I could watch this video all day. I think the musician's favorite is probably the Marshall Stacks part, but I like the giant squid wrestling with the spaceship.
I think this is probably the perfect song for the early 21st century because I can actually enjoy it, I can see aspects of it that are a joke, am impressed by how good the songwriting and musicianship is, but don't understand why it happened or why anyone would want to listen to more than one song by them. I guess being treated like a "joke band" has been a persistent irritation throughout their career, but I don't know what would separate a "joke band" and the Darkness. And I don't know whether it matters if they're a "joke band" that people actually enjoy and a real band that is really funny most of the time. But also, on a personal level, I completely get it.