From the Dark to the Light with Dark Light
On the whole, 2005 was important for rock music in the mainstream. The second wave of emo was in full swing. Green Day won their first Grammy. Bands like Papa Roach, Foo Fighters, and Weezer secured spots on the Billboard Top 100. TV network Fuse broadcast shows like Steven’s Untitled Rock Show and time blocks dedicated to bands appearing on Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos. MySpace made sharing and locating new, unsigned and underground bands easy.
Rock in 2005 had a variety of faces and players. Shaggy haircuts and baseball tees were acceptable wear. Eyes ringed in caked, black eyeliner were cool for guys and girls. Band tees and replications of tour merchandise could be found in the mall as well as big box retailers. Being passionate about rock was back whether you loved the sound of the time or not.
As I’ve mentioned before, 2005 was a pivotal year for HIM. Working with producer Tim Palmer, the guys of HIM set to work on their fifth album, Dark Light. The band was already experiencing the effects of increasing exposure as their music slowly crept from Finland to the U.K. and finally to the U.S. This is thanks in part to friend Bam Margera and his media outlets, a topic I previously addressed.
Released in late September 2005, Dark Light entered the charts around the world. The hometown heroes were number one in Finland and were in the top ten all around Europe. Stateside, they entered the U.S. charts at number 18 on the Billboard 200 chart. In time, HIM sold over half a million copies of this album. Remember that this is a time when physical copies of CDs were still popular. This accomplishment garnered them a Gold record by the RIAA. HIM did two things no Finnish musicians had ever done: entered the U.S. charts and struck Gold. As recognition for this feat, former president Tarja Halonen (who I almost yelled at in a museum) invited singer Ville Valo to the President’s Ball in Finland.
The cultural climate in the U.S. was perfect for HIM. Listeners were more willing to accept balladeer-like lyrics thanks to the emo scene. The “return to music videos” by Fuse helped people connect their already famous heartagram to the band. HIM was at the time signed to Sire Records, thus allowing wider international distribution. Dark Light was also a slight departure from the band’s previous albums. This one featured Janne “Burton” Puurtinen on keyboards at the forefront of the songs. Puurtinen got to show off his classically trained musical skills. The cleaner, glossier sound transferred to American airwaves easily. This CD is often regarded as the most “American sounding” of the band’s eight, thus polarizing fans. HIM achieved true international success for the first, and arguably last, time in their careers.
Why did I choose this song?: “Killing Loneliness” is the second single from Dark Light. One of the two videos features Kat Von D as tattoo artist/love interest of Ville Valo. Her recognizable face from reality TV helped people connect to the band, thus creating an introduction to HIM. It’s also a playable track in Rock Band 3.