Gorillaz are an English virtual band formed in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The band primarily consists of four fictional members: 2-D (vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums). Their universe is presented in music videos, interviews, comic strips and short cartoons. Gorillaz’ music has featured collaborations with a wide range of featured artists, with Albarn as the only permanent musical contributor.
With Gorillaz, Albarn departed from the distinct Britpop of his band Blur, exploring a variety of musical styles including hip hop, electronic music and world music through an “eccentrically postmodern” approach. The band’s 2001 debut album Gorillaz, which featured dub, Latin and punk influences, went triple platinum in the UK and double platinum in Europe, with sales driven by the success of the album’s lead single “Clint Eastwood”. Their second studio album, Demon Days (2005), went six times platinum in the UK and double platinum in the US and spawned the successful lead single “Feel Good Inc.”.
The band’s third album, Plastic Beach (2010), featured environmentalist themes, a synth-pop approach and an expanded roster of featured artists. Their fourth album, The Fall (2010), was recorded on the road during the Escape to Plastic Beach Tour and released on 25 December 2010. During 2015, Remi Kabaka Jr. became a music producer for the band after more than 10 years providing the voice of Russel and was credited as such alongside Albarn and Hewlett in the official 2019 documentary Gorillaz: Reject False Icons. The band’s fifth album, Humanz, was released after a seven-year hiatus on 28 April 2017. Their sixth album, The Now Now (2018), featured stripped-down production and a greater musical focus on Albarn. Gorillaz’ started a new project in 2020, Song Machine, a music-based web series with episodes that consist of standalone singles and accompanying music videos featuring different guests each episode, resulting in their seventh album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (2020). In 2023, the band will release its eighth studio album, Cracker Island.
Gorillaz has presented itself live in a variety of different ways throughout the band’s history, such as hiding the touring band from the audience’s view in the early years of the project, projecting animated band members on stage via computer graphics and traditional live touring featuring a fully visible live band. The band have sold over 27 million records worldwide and are cited by Guinness World Records as the world’s “Most Successful Virtual Band”. They have won a Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, an NME Award and four MTV Europe Music Awards. They have also been nominated for 11 Brit Awards and won Best British Group at the 2018 Brit Awards.