Written By: Mandi Lauren Nowitz
Anyone else have a super craving for a, say, “chica cherry cola” or is it just me? Savage Garden, formed by Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones, defined my junior high and high school days but my love for them went far beyond the band parting ways in 2001 and I highly doubt it will fade in any time soon. The Australian pop/techno/dance duo was formed in the early 90s, with Hayes as the handsome front man with the killer voice. 1996 was the year that the world would truly, madly, deeply fall in love with S.G as they released the single “I Want You,” which became an immediate top ten hit. The following year, the band officially released their first self-titled album, which went 7X platinum in the US. As “I Want You” was catapulting the duo, “Truly Madly Deeply” became S.G’s first number one single and the ultimate love ballad, supposedly written about Hayes’ wife, whom he wed in 1994. What many did not know was that Hayes was actually gay and the couple made their divorce official in 2000, two years after they separated.
It is not known if it was his sexuality or fame that ended the marriage but shortly thereafter, Hayes became more open with his record label and friends about who he was sexually. It is quite clear by listening to S.G’s second album, “Affirmation” that Hayes is sending a message to both fans and himself about the struggle to come to terms with who one really is. He has alluded to the idea that “Affirmation” was his way of dealing with the end of his marriage but I think it was a lot deeper than maybe even he realized, at the time. Daniel Jones was apparently gearing up to exit the duo prior to the hoopla revolving around the second album yet there has never been a clear reason as to why they broke up and if there has been answers, remember that there are three sides to every story: his side, his side, and the truth. But one thing that was made clear was that Jones and Hayes would never reunite and for S.G fans, that was heartbreaking.
Hayes has continued on with his life as he married his partner of almost a decade, Richard Cullen and he had a short-lived yet popular podcast while also recording an amazingly delightful cover of “Last Christmas,” originally performed by Wham! He has sold almost 40 million albums worldwide and is living his truth with an arsenal of pop hits that are, in my opinion, timeless. Here are my top 5 Savage Garden/Darren Hayes songs and believe me, this was not easy to narrow down! They frickin’ rock!
5) Break Me, Shake Me: Inspired by INXS, this is one of those rare gems that you have to listen to all of the first album to get to but it is beyond worth it. “So you’re the kind that deals with the games in the mind. Well you confuse me in a way that I’ve never known.” Mind games…we are all pretty familiar with those and what a mind f**k they can be.
4) Dirty: This is from Hayes’ solo expeditions and it is too much fun with lyrics that are actually fairly thoughtful and quick. “Walk into a room imperceptible boom tight shot close zoom when you move it’s assumed you feel it too don’t you baby? Tickin’ like a fuse there’s an itch I gotta scratch ten minutes in a room get this monkey off my back any dark space would do to show you baby.” We have all had these thoughts about someone at one point in our lives; yes, you too! I know you have! Don’t lie!
3) Affirmation: This song has lyrics that explain how Hayes must have been feeling as he was on the verge of revealing that he was gay. “I believe you can’t control or choose your sexuality. I believe that trust is more important than monogamy. I believe that your most attractive features are your heart and soul. I believe that family is worth more than money or gold. I believe the struggle for financial freedom isn’t fair. I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires.” Hayes may have also been a predictor of the 2016 election, just saying.
2) I Want You: Why cherry cola? I heard Hayes once say that when he came to America, the concept of this drink was just so exciting, delicious and new that he had to include it into the song. It’s just a darn good song. “Anytime I need to see your face I just close my eyes and I am taken to a place where your crystal minds and magenta feelings take up shelter in the base of my spine sweet like a chica cherry cola.”
1) Tears of Pearls: Okay, hear me out. This is my favorite SG song because it just kicks, pulls, pushes, and tugs at all the right feels. “Your kisses are like pearls, so different and so rare. But anger stole the jewels away. And love has left you bare, made you cry. These tears of pearls.”
Hayes is more of a lyrical poet and he does it brilliantly. Bonus track for all who live for ballads: “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You.” Why? Because when you fall in love, no matter your age, there are moments where you truly feel that you created this person for you. And this is why I love Savage Garden and Darren Hayes so much! *A compilation album was recently released to mark the bands 20th anniversary!*