‘On Melancholy Hill’ and ‘Clint Eastwood’: Virtual Delights with Gorillaz

Gorillaz and the ability to awe with stunning animation.

Damon Albarn is once again the man of the moment.  Firstly Albarn turned 46 this week (and looks sexy as ever…you think I am kidding? Check out exhibit A)

Damon-Albarn-August-2008.-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this month he debuted his song “Mr. Tempo” from his upcoming (and first…and highly anticipated…and I can hardly wait to hear it all) solo album Everyday Robots. He was able to do it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and in the context of SXSW. The official video for the title track “Everyday Robots” has been making the rounds also, and the buzz it has generated is tangible. Michel Cragg from The Guardian compares it to Tom Yorke´s solo album saying they are both “simultaneously paranoid and pretty, casting an eye over society with a sort of sad shrug and a lilting melody”. When I read that I want to stop writing because I WISH I could write a sentence like that!

I have always been a fan of Albarn and I won´t go much into discussing his other projects (BLUR!!!!!! and The Good, The Bad and The Queen) but I do think it is time to talk about video features we still haven´t  discussed properly here: Animation and virtual bands (basically: Gorillaz). Also a friend suggested I do a post about “Plastic Beach”, (Gorillaz 2010 album) so this was clearly the Universe speaking. First, it is important to explain the concept of a virtual band. It is also called a cartoon band and it is a group whose members are not “corporeal” musicians but animated characters. This means musicians and producers handle the music but any media (albums, videos and visual content on stage) is animated. The term became popular because of Gorillaz but the first virtual band back in 1959 were Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Alvin-the-chipmunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Beach – Gorillaz –  Full Album


I decided to choose one song from the album. “On Melancholy Hill”. It is the third single from the band´s third album, and was released on July 26th 2010.

“On Melancholy Hill”

The song was written by Albarn.  Band member Murdoc Niccals said “The Melancholy Hill – it’s that feeling, that place, that you get in your soul sometimes, like someone’s let your tires down. It’s nice to break up the album with something a little lighter. It’s good to have something that’s a genuine pop moment on every album. And this is one of those.”The video begins with the huge ocean liner M. Harriet under attack by two planes. Someone goes to Noodle´s room (guitar, keyboard, and backing vocals) to tell her that they are attacking the ship and she runs off and next thing we see is she is shooting at the planes heading for the ship. The ship goes down and she is left in a lifeboat with her guitar. After more action (A giant Russel Hobbs, some submarines and jellyfish and a manatee). We see the fog clear to reveal Plastic Beach. In this video we are also introduced to Cyborg Noodle – guitars. See if you can spot Lou Reed and Snoop Dog somewhere in there. Personally I love the song but it doesn’t come close to how I feel about the other video I chose for this One on One.

“Clint Eastwood” – Gorillaz

I remember watching MTV back in 2001 and being completely blown away by it. Instant, immediate, everlasting LOVE. I mean LOVE. I saw it again (no YouTube, had to sit in front of the TV until it played again) and calling, no, shouting  for my brother to come and watch it too. He loved it also. It was not only the video, the music and the name of the song, but also starting to find out about the “mysterious” band little by little. Discovering that Albarn was the lead singer, then finding out they “auditioned” some band members by a world wide open call (is this really true?) and realizing that the gorillas in the video dance Michael Jackson´s “Thriller” choreography. It still amazes me how unexpected and original and cool it seemed. (I still think that is true today). It was the perfect video to introduce the band members:

Fictional members
  • 2D – vocals, keyboards, melodica (1998–present)
  • Murdoc – bass guitar, drum machine (1998–present)
  • Russel – drums, percussion (1998–2008, 2010–present)
  • Noodle – guitars, keyboards, vocals (1998–2006, 2010–present

gorillaz-1959

 

 

 

 

 

All visuals are created by Jamie Hewlett and his design company Zombie Flesh Eaters. Hewlett and Albarn are the original members left and also the ones that came up with the concept. I think that their musical and visual concept is probably the last thing to impress me as a whole. I can’t recall another creative en devour since then that has broken schemes like this…can you?

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4 thoughts on “‘On Melancholy Hill’ and ‘Clint Eastwood’: Virtual Delights with Gorillaz

  1. Love the Gorillaz, doesn’t hurt that Albarn is sexy as hell. I also was glued to MTV (remember back when they played videos?) Plastic Beach remains a favorite album, Stylo with Bobby Womack WOW!….its just so unique, the whole groove to that song is infectious.
    As silly as it sounds I was upset when Noodles left the band, my son and I search to find out why. I was also greatly relieved when she returned! Wiki has a great history of all the characters, was surprised to find out that Tina Weymouth lends her voice to Noodles (among many others). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodle_(Gorillaz).
    I haven’t heard “Mr. Tempo”, thank you for the heads up on this~

    1. Hello Chrissy!
      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂
      He is sexy as hell, right?
      Yes, I was upset also when I learned she left the group and rejoiced when I heard she was back! I am glad you enjoyed the post and like Gorillaz! Is there any video you would like us to deconstruct? 🙂

  2. Super Creative and a great band to get wrapped up in! I think the experience they give the fans at concerts, the videos and of course the music will keep these folks around for a long long time! As usual, great post..I am eternally a fan…

    1. Hello!
      Sorry i took my time to reply!
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad you read and take your time to post something.
      🙂

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