Artist Profile: Gorillaz


(Image via Sonar)

Metzli Cervantes, Writer

Did you ever wonder what a virtual band would look like and sound like? Well, Gorillaz is exactly that. Gorillaz is a British virtual band that originated in 1998 by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. The band consists of 4 animated members, 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. The world of these 4 characters is shown in their music videos. Each music video has its own story and portrays the life of the Gorillaz. 

The idea of a virtual band came to Albarn and Hewlett while they were watching the TV channel MTV. They thought that the channel was getting hectic and that there wasn’t a lot of substance in the music that constantly came upon the channel, so the idea of virtual bands sounded new and different to them. The Gorillaz debuted on August 15, 1997, with the single “Ghost Train” which later became a b-side with the single “Rock the House”. They released their first collection of music, which included remixes, on the EP “Tomorrow Comes Today”  following their first self titled album ‘Gorillaz’ with more recognizable hits like “Clint Eastwood ” and “19-2000”. The band delves into rap, hip-hop, punk, and ska genres. The promotion and recognition for these songs and albums came very strangely; the song “19-2000’ broke through in the American scene after being featured in an Icebreakers mint commercial as well as being featured on FIFA 2001. The trumpets and riffs from “Rock the house” can be heard on various MTV commercials. From there Gorillaz started making a name for themselves and their music got sudden popularity after their first album. The album ‘Gorillaz’ became a huge hit and sold over 3 million copies all over the world, it also earned them an entry on the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful virtual band. Most of the first promotions done for Gorillaz were done by word-to-mouth advertising. There was also a lot of mystery and anticipation for the band as people were curious about what a virtual band would be like. There is also a lot of crazes and rave for the characters’ backstories and the people behind the characters. The characters have their own little story, it’s always fun seeing beyond the music and exploring the band’s storyline. 

The storyline of Gorillaz has a lot of elements and depth to it. There are many videos and short films made by the animators of Gorillaz going into the depth of the characters. Around the time Gorilla started to kick-off there was a lot of rave and rumors of a Gorillaz movie focusing on the characters individual stories as well as giving more context for the band. However, those plans were abandoned and scrapped as the band wanted to make more music and instead stuck to making short films. Soon after that in 2004, Gorillaz released their second studio album titled ‘Demon Days’ which is one of their most popular albums to date. It includes some of their greatest hits like “Feel Good Inc.” and “Dirty Harry ” and this album very well-capitalized on what their first album accomplished. Their third studio album ‘Plastic Beach’ mixes incredibly well with the others.