Gorillaz in 10 Songs

This article originally ran in 2017 and has been updated.

Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.

Isn’t it frustrating not being able to box something in? Not being able to name it because the goddamn thing is so busy evolving that it slips through your fingers? Sure, they might be a bunch of cartoon characters, but there’s always been something a little darker than meets the eye going on with Gorillaz. They’re pockmarked and weathered, garish, rough around the edges, the residents of Banksy’s Dismaland as counterpoint to Mickey, Donald, and pals.

There’s no one who could have better given life to the idea of “smart pop” while confidently rebelling against the genre’s shackles. Fresh ahead of the release of their fifth album, Humanz, 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Russel have achieved an astonishing ubiquity with their smooth funk electronica, far beyond what Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett may have ever expected.

During their promotion behind Demon Days, the band’s website was coded to look like a home/studio building called Kong Studios, which you could visit, explore, and play games. As if the album weren’t thrilling enough, Hewlett, Albarn, and team had fleshed out the awesome experience of living in the disc. As time passed and new music arrived, the Studios altered and changed, much like the music itself. Then came Plastic Beach, and the accompanying island site full of dazzling animations.