When I heard The Darkness are coming out with a new album (incidentally, click-thru for a kickass studio version of their famously awesome “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” cover, which, love to say, sort of shows that late-The Bends/early-OK Computer Radiohead are the best Radiohead on just about every level: songwriting, musicianship, ambition, ideas; though, if they hadn’t made Kid A so well then the general notion of pop music would probably (though not impossibly, given all the great Timbaland-Neptunes shit at the time) be a lot more boring only because I’d rather hear bad rip-offs (and good ones) of Kid A more than OK Computer — but that’s certainly not Radiohead’s fault, and I feel like their earlier music has somewhat suffered in the critical and popular eye because of this one simple fact (sort of like how I think Animal Collective became, ten years later).
So I got to thinking about The Darkness, and how of course “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” (and really every single song on the first album) is their best song.
Oh lord, I’m so bored
Living on my own
You’re devilish and dirty
They say your pushing thirty
Well pushing thirty stone
Oh Christ, I’m enticed
I want you in my sack
You’re potty-mouthed and brassy
Anything but classy
I’ve just got to get you back
It’s been a while
Since I’ve seen that smile
But the old magic’s still there
And I love what you’ve done with your hair. Oh yeah!
I just love what you’ve done with your hair. Oh yeah!
It’s the crassest, most condescending sort of thing — rock music. Let’s really never forget that, ok? Powerful white guys on stage whose only purpose is to prove the material existence of Freud’s whacky theories. And to get laid. Real laid.
And so there’s this song called “Knockers”, which is called “Knockers!!!!!!! Oh my god every time I even think about it I can’t stop laughing because it’s such a funny joke. This is a really funny joke. It’s how you make jokes, I think, about women. I could be wrong, though. But it seems like The Darkness represent a wonderful dialectical understanding of rock music, offering the notion of unfettered cock rock in simultaneity with a self-aware, present-day notion of songwriting in order, not to deconstruct, but certainly to offer the listener with A) a great rock song, B) the idea of the presentation of a great rock song, and C) an acknowledgement of the historicity of great rock songs. So the net effect joke is that rock is misogynistic, and here is how it is misogynistic, but also that misogyny is easily deflatable with a (relatively) deep excavation of its conditioned historicity. Sort of a let’s-just-lay-our-cards-on-the-table move that allows for a frank performance that hopefully shouldn’t make the listener feel too bad about his pleasure.
The chorus of “Knockers” is “And I love what you’ve done with your hair. Oh yeah!”, which seems like about the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard. Do they still have shampoo commercials on TV? Do people still watch commercials on TV? I don’t know - but for some reason when I was growing up it must have been a hair care bonanza for advertisers because basically I remember seeing were hair commercials — Pert Plus, Selsun Blue, Thermasilk Heat Activated, Herbal Essence, Head and Shoulders, Pantene — and those are just off the top of my silky soft dome piece.
All I remember are-over-the-top scenes denoting sensuality. And, you know, I think it sort of worked. It programmed me to find soft, lustrous hair really desirable. For some reason. Who knows. Whatever. And so because the song is called “Knockers”, and you’d think it would, you know, be about knockers, when Justin Hawkins belts out the chorus I just can barely keep it together. Because it’s such a sensual, over-the-top line and presentation that it reminds me of those old shampoo commercials, which were also over-the-top and sensual but also strangely chaste. And you’d expect “Knockers” to be really raunchy, but the chorus plays with your expectation while simultaneously achieving (for me) the goal of inducing sexual expectations.
The song basically makes an end-run around being a sexy-dirty song by re-creating the conventions of a shampoo commercial, you know? And that seems just incredibly smart and amazing.
The fact that the song is a slight 2:44 long (same length as “Holland, 1945” and “La La Love You”) only adds to its appeal. Because I can listen to it over and over fairly efficiently. Once every two minutes and forty-four seconds, ten times every about twenty-three minutes, more than twenty times and hour! “I really love what you’ve done with your hair! Oh yeahhhhhh!” Guitar solo! Fuck yeah!
The song is totally brilliant. I cannot wait for the next The Darkness album.