How the Darkness’ Debut Single Nearly Torpedoed Their Career
When the Darkness burst onto the international stage in 2003, hard rock pundits couldn't help but feel a sense of deja vu. Embodying the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) cliches of '80s hard rock in a post-grunge world seemed like an odd and potentially ruinous step backward to some.
But this skepticism only lit a fire under the English rockers.
"When the Darkness properly formed ... I was doing it in a defiant way," co-founding vocalist Justin Hawkins told The Guardian. "'What’s the point [of] doing the same thing as everyone else? Let’s do something inspired by the music we loved growing up!' We’ve always been drawn to absurd masculinity. Plus I wanted to piss a few people off by not caring about the 'cool' house of cards built during the '90s."
Despite all their bluster, the Darkness' career looked dead on arrival when their debut single, "Get Your Hands Off My Woman," landed with a thud in February 2003. The lead single off the band's debut album Permission to Land is a passionate, hilarious battle cry; Hawkins repeatedly warns an anonymous assailant to "get your hands off of my woman, motherfucker." (And that's not even the most profane lyric.)
Unsurprisingly, "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" flatlined on the radio, no doubt due to its myriad vulgarities. Even with the release of a "clean" version, the song reached only No. 43 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
Watch the Darkness' 'Get Your Hands Off My Woman' Video
Permission to Land's second single, "Growing On Me," fared slightly better, peaking at No. 11 in the U.K. Hawkins refuted rumors that the song was about a sexually transmitted disease. "People have said it's about pubic lice," the frontman told MTV. "But that's obviously wrong because pubic lice don't grow on you, do they?" Instead, Hawkins explained, "Growing on Me" was about "a sweet lady woman that you will never fully fathom or understand, but you love her so much that after a while it doesn't matter."
The third time proved to be the charm for the Darkness with the release of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," which peaked at No. 2 in the U.K. and graced several Billboard charts. The band members would later acknowledge it as perhaps the "stupidest song ever," but it ultimately changed their trajectory on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Once that happened, Hawkins told many more audience members to get their hands off his woman.