Gorillaz are a four-piece ‘band’ consisting of lead singer 2D, drummer Russell, bass guitarist Murdoc and Noodles the female lead guitarist. They sound any other normal band…except they really aren’t! They are the first animated band in the world and are from the brains of ‘visual director’ Jamie Hewlett and ‘musical director’ Damon Albarn, who voices 2D. Also, with every album, and there have been four, the number of musical collaborators has grown and grown and gotten better and better! The likes of Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and ‘The Clash’ members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon-and those are all from latest album ‘Plastic Beach’ alone. I’m going to reveal my personal five favourite songs from another of the best bands around…
5. On Melancholy Hill from ‘Plastic Beach’ (2010)
The only song from most recent album ‘Plastic Beach’, on my list, ‘On Melancholy Hill’ is pretty beautiful, and totally unexpected from the band. The chilled out electronic music is a different direction than that fans would’ve expected, but it turns out to be a sombre, yet thriving song, that is the epitomy of relaxation. The video follows the nautical theme of the album, creating a fantastic experience, especially when played live. I especially like the calm collected music shown against a backdrop of violence, as the contrast works brilliantly. I enjoy the song on its own, but on this occasion it MUST be viewed alongside the video as it is a lovely little chunk of the Gorillaz story. The sound of a bell ringing out is ominous and a great way to end the song, the best song on ‘Plastic Beach’ for me.
4. Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head from ‘Demon Days’ (2005)
This is more of an ‘epic’ tale than an actual song. Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper narrates the story of ‘happy folk are terrorised by demons’. The backing beats are cool and funky, keeping the song ticking over all the way. Hopper’s blunt story-telling is excellent and something rarely seen in anything musical. Albarn’s injections on the vocals are intermittent, yet equally as important as Hopper’s straightforward narration. It’s sombreness is also apparent as the song ends with a gusty wind breeze overcoming the quiet vocals of Albarn and the title track of ‘Demon Days’ bursting through the gloominess. It may not have been a huge single for the band, but it was an indication of how good they utilise the storytelling device within a song.
3. Feel Good Inc from ‘Demon Days‘ (2005)
‘Feel Good Inc‘ starts as it means to continue with a cackle of laughter from contributers De La Soul. It’s a fun song, with the hip-hop influences fused together with a simple enough guitar riff, it just fits. Damon Albarn’s vocals are once again the star of the show, as he shines with his falsetto voice at the beginning, and through a loudspeaker set throughout, something which he carries out at live concerts too, which add to the authenticity of the song. The song’s chorus, in time with a windmill in the video is slightly dreamy and calm, something broken by the loud, interruptive rapping of De La Soul. They provide a big burst of energy, and the recurring cackle from the songs start. Acoustic guitars compliment Albarn’s normal, quiet tones again as the break-down ends and builds toward another big rap. The song itself was a break-through for the band, their most successful song at the time, allowing them to show their versatility, something praised on the album the song is taken from ‘Demon Days’.
2. 19-2000 from ‘Gorillaz’ (2001)
A song everyone will know whether they realise it or not. Taken from the self-titled debut album, 19-2000 features a variety of different things: bongo drumming, guitarist Noodles’ vocals on the chorus and the progressive, yet chilled out vibe of the backing beat. The accompanying video is a true delight too, fits the songs slightly on edge nature and is the first real sign of the humour the band’s creators had. The song was the second ever single for Gorillaz, charting at a high of 6th in the UK, nothing special really, but the remix, by dance specialists Soulchild, was very popular. It was used in the videogame ‘FIFA 2002’ and even blockbuster movie ‘Cloverfield’. It was basically an upbeat version of the song, with added drums and guitars added. This showered the band with their first taste of commercial success.
1. Clint Eastwood from ‘Gorillaz’ (2001)
The first single from the band, and the most iconic song from the band. This was the song and video that first attracted me to the band, at first I was intrigued by the animated novelty of the band and the video, but as I grew, I realised what a good song it is alone. The rapping of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien is magical, and unfortunately missed on the two times I’ve seen the band play live, meaning the song doesn’t have quite the same effect with someone like Tinie Tempah replacing the original rapper. That aside, the whole vibe of the song is quite scary, especially in collaboration with the video, which has a real ‘Halloween’ theme to it, it’s set in a graveyard and features ghosts and zombies, which is about as scary as it’s going to get!
It may be slightly ironic that my favourite song of Gorillaz is their very first, it doesn’t really show much sign of progress, but it was the song that got me hooked on the band, and to be honest, I could’ve picked five or more songs to fill this list, such is the consistency of the band, with the various collaborators and genres used, there truly is something for everyone with Gorillaz.