How could anyone forget The Darkness? The British glam rockers exploded onto the scene back in 2003 with their stunning debut album Permission to Land.
‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ was an almost unbearably catchy anthem. ‘Christmas Time’ was one of the better modern festive songs. That album brought the band three BRIT Awards for Best British Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best British Album.
Led by Justin Hawkins’ almost comical falsetto, they were a refreshing blast of theatricality and muscular musicianship in an era dominated by smooth R&B, U.K. garage, and bubblegum pop.
The Darkness never topped the success of their debut record but have continued making music ever since: Motorheart, their seventh studio album, was released last November and still managed to reach the top 20 in the U.K. Album Chart.
But did you know that Justin Hawkins has found a second gig as a YouTuber? Justin Hawkins Rides Again was launched in 2020 and he now has almost 100,000 subscribers to his channel. It’s a genuinely cool mixture of serious musician analysis and fun hot takes – like Anthony Fantano crossed with an old guy who just really loves the guitar.
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There are introductory guides to the music of rock legends Dire Straits and Todd Rundgren. Elsewhere, he counts down his top five favourite songs of the likes of Paul McCartney and Aerosmith. Hawkins also dives into his career, discussing everything from working for American Idol to losing his shit at meeting Bono.
It’s the hot takes everyone loves though. There’s no love lost for former Hottest 100 winner Glass Animals and their song ‘Heat Wave’ in one video, with a clearly bemused Hawkins tearing through the song’s lyrics.
In a video titled ‘Honestly? What’s The Point Of Yungblud?’, Hawkins makes a distinction between the classic British punk of the Sex Pistols and the Americanised version of the genre, saying that he believes Yungblud belongs to the latter.
Other highlights include some potentially unpopular opinions on The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, discussing industry plants, and critiquing the Foo Fighters in not one but two videos.
Check out Hawkins’ YouTube channel here – as one commenter put it, he has an “uncanny ability simultaneously to admire and mock an artist.”
The Darkness, meanwhile, are still going strong. They’re currently on a huge North American tour, with European dates to follow in the coming months (full ticket information here).