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Throwback Thursday: 14 Years of Gorillaz

Logan Mullen

Arts and Entertainment Editor


Like them or not, Gorillaz have become a household name in the music industry. Whether it is due to “Feel Good Inc.”, the animated band concept or the laundry list of collaborators, Gorillaz formulated quite the dynasty in the alternative music industry.

And it all started about 14 years ago with their March 26, 2001 self-titled release. Now, in 2015, it is hard to believe that a mockery of MTV turned into a band that would go on to win Guinness World Records.

As band artist Jamie Hewlett said in a July 2005 interview with Wired, “One day, we were home watching MTV with our eyes just kind of glazed. Because if you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell — there’s nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that.”

That comment led to an album that sold over 5 million copies. So taking a look in the time capsule, here is what made that album so remarkable.

1. Re-Hash

The opening track is a bit redundant, but sets the stage for the eccentricity that Gorillaz produce. The bass-heavy track was many listeners’ first taste of Gorillaz, and the harmonizing male and female vocals make for a lyrically solid track. 6/10

2. 5/4

5/4 is basically frontman Damon Albarn letting his inner-Blur out. The guitar intro is the perfect setup for the grunge-esque track. One of the more underrated tracks on the record, 5/4 shows the fusion of guitar and keyboard that Gorillaz establish as their sound over the course of the album. 7/10

3. Tomorrow Comes Today

One of the top singles from the album, Tomorrow Comes Today has a more melancholy nature of the music that supplements the dark, morbid nature of the lyrics. It is not an uplifting song by any stretch, but it does not make it any less remarkable. 9/10

4. New Genius (Brother)

One of the more hip-hop influenced tracks on the debut, the opening cymbal crash is sure to blow out speakers for those who listened to the preceding track a bit too loud. Albarn’s falsetto is really something else and makes for a good track. 6.5/10

5. Clint Eastwood

The song that started it all. Albarn’s sunshine in a bag has become a breeding ground for top-notch rapping. Starting with Phi Life Cypher and Del the Funky Homosapien, rappers by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Tinie Tempah and Bootie Brown have all tried their hand at mastering the funky, almost morbid track. 9.5/10

6. Man Research (Clapper)

No question the most unique song on the album. From falsettos, to shrieking, to outright bizarre lyrics accompanied by an infectious beat, Man Research is a deep track that any fan of Gorillaz will tell you epitomizes their unique nature. 10/10

7. Punk

At only 1:36 long, Punk is another hard rock influenced track. The guitar is heavy and the listener feels as if they are in the midst of a musical warzone from the intro and keyboards. 7/10

8. Sound Check (Gravity)

More shrieking and more hip-hop, Sound Check covers every end of the spectrum with acoustic guitars, heavy bass and strings. 8/10

9. Double Bass

What starts off as exactly what it sounds, a bass infused instrumental track, the brief drum break followed by the muttering of “All of which makes me anxious, at times unbearably so,” turns into a pretty unique and infectious song. 6/10

10. Rock the House

Del is back at it with trumpets this time, as he raps about letting loose and enjoying the night. It is certainly no Clint Eastwood, but it is laughably catchy and well-written. 8/10

11. 19/2000

One of the more overrated tracks on the album, 19/2000 is catchy, but slow as all get-out. It reached quite a bit of prominence, but is a relative outlier compared to most of the other tracks on the album. 5.5/10

12. Latin Simone (¿Qué Pasa Contigo?)

Arguably one of the more unique tracks on the album, Ibrahim Ferrer’s sultry Latin voice lets out some deliciously morbid lyrics in entirely Spanish. Accompanied by some fitting trumpet backing, Latin Simone is a unique head-banger of its own. Albarn also released an English version of the track on G-sides. 8/10

13. Starshine

Starshine encompasses all that Gorillaz were about in 2001, lot’s of guitar, bass, effects and falsettos. The bridge shows Albarn’s vocal range and ability to put unique inflection in all ranges. 9/10

14. Slow Country

Gorillaz let their diversity out in this track with an urban country sort of feel. It is near impossible to explain, it just has to be heard. While the musical aspect is great, the redundant vocals can be a bit of a deterrent. 7/10

15. M1A1

The intro says it all. For almost a minute and a half, horror movie shouting of “Hello! Is anyone there?” followed by face-melting guitar and drums leads to easily the most morbid and heavy rock track on the album. Nevertheless, the spectacle of it all makes it a listening pleasure that will certainly get the blood pressure up. 7/10

16. Dracula

If ever looking for tasteful usage of the snare drum, look no further than Dracula. Between snare, saxophone and distressed, faint lyrics, Dracula feels like a musical form of the novel, and it is sensationally done. 9/10

17. Left Hand Suzuki Method

The closing track shows piano and Japanese influences, as the piano is straight from a lesson book and is accompanied perfectly by Japanese and English lyrics. It was a B-side elsewhere in the world, but a bonus track in the US version, and with that it is certainly a different, yet great, ending to an even better album. 7/10

Final rating 8/10

Gorillaz was a debut album better than most. It had some remarkable hits, great rapping, tremendous diversity, and 14 years later can still be played over and over again.

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