My first listen to Gorillaz's Plastic Beach left me thinking that it was pretty bland compared to their previous album, having almost no guitar, tons and tons of synths, and with 2D's vocal being almost completely devoid of feeling. Then I realized that this was all reflecting the themes presented by the albums. —Chexo Kuscolv
Also on the topic of Gorillaz, think of the lyrics to "Feel Good Inc.", the hit single about hedonism and how it only makes you sad. Specifically, this line: "My dreams, they've got to kiss, because I don't get sleep, no..." So his hedonism engulfed him so he no longer sleeps at night due to his raunchy ways of fame and lust. But dreams can also mean hopes, so not only does the lack of sleep literally make him stop "dreaming" but he also loses his hopes and dreams to the way of life. Poetry! —Hitchcock
Watch the videos for "Feel Good Inc." and "El Mañana". The videos show Noodle, and her guitar, and her island as representing innocence, and the destruction thereof. Noodle's "skyland" is attacked by two helicopters, which she attempts to hide from inside the windmill, though it is eventually critically damaged, plunges into a canyon, and is destroyed. Then "On Melancholy Hill" rolls around, and opens with Noodle on a cruise ship. She presents a decidedly more adult appearance, wearing lipstick and stockings-she is 19 now, after all — and instead of making her way to the "lifebewtz", takes her gun and actively attempts to fight off the flying pirates, managing to down one but not the other before the cruise ship is bombed and sank. She's not innocent anymore, but she has grown up. It probably also means something that we never see her eyes.
There has been a debate in my house about how Russell and/or Noodle would know how to get to Plastic Beach. Until I finally realized why... because Murdoc told everyone the coordinates in his Pirate Radio broadcasts!
At the end of the Saturnz Barz video, 2D asks for "just a peppermint tea" for breakfast. Why peppermint specifically? Mint tea is good for keeping the throat clear, and so has a reputation as a good tea for singers. Considering 2D's role in the band, it makes sense he'd have acquired a taste for the stuff.
The Non-Conformist Oath is the only interlude on Humanz not spoken by the narrator himself... because he's the one who steps out for a "fresh of breath air" at the end of the previous song.
Ace joining the band might initially seem out of nowhere, except that multiple times where both works had given a Shout Out toward each other had already given credence that both Gorillaz and Powerpuff Girls exist in the same universe.
Also from Humility, Russel tripping 2-D over for seemingly no reason makes a bit more sense when you remember that white eyes are either a sign of being afraid, which 2-D isn't, or possession. Given 2-D's eyes go back to their usual black after he gets back up it's likely that he was possessed during the video and that Russel, the band member with the most experience being possessed, gave him an impromptu exorcism.
When Ace pops the basketball in the "Humilty" video, he looks genuinely surprised when the guys playing with the basketball are not impressed. Why? Think about Ace's old gang; they probably would have thought it was hilarious. Real-life people? Not so much.
One early cartoon short had the band taking a promotional picture while wearing random costumes, and Murdoc decides to dress as a Nazi general, only to get scolded by Russel. Why Russel? Aside from the obvious reason, Russel in that short was dressed as Charlie Chaplin, who had a personal loathing of the Nazis himself.
Their backstory also has some good Fridge Horror, like 2D's Amusing Injuries. 'Oh, Murdoc just socked 2D in the face.' Typical Slapstick, right? That is until you realize that 2D has none of the typical cartoon Healing Factor and in fact suffers extensive injuries from accidents and the hands of his blatantly abusive band mate.
This is taken Up to Eleven and brought out into the open in the Plastic Beach chapter, where 2D's been kidnapped, incarcerated, beaten and drugged by his old 'friend.' The relationship between these characters has grown from Fridge Horror to straight-out Nightmare Fuel; just keep in mind that if Murdoc has no problem doing these things on tape, what do you suppose happens behind closed doors?
Murdoc's sentence for running 2D over and putting him in a coma was to look after the poor guy. Rumours fly about what went on that year, and even if that didn't happen, Murdoc cheerfully admits to having beaten up the unconscious 2D for fun. Not to mention nobody objected when the Dysfunction Junction that was Murdoc, 2D, and Russel adopted Noodle, a small non-English-speaking child they found in a box on the doorstep. Evidently Social Services Does Not Exist.
It's been stated that Murdoc's distinctive puggish nose is the result of being punched in the face on multiple instances, like a boxer. Granted, most of these were his own fault, so what's the problem? The artwork of Murdoc at 10 portrays him with this appearance, which implies that he'd already been smashed in the face several times by that age. According to the biography, Rise of the Ogre, the total number of outright breaks in his nose is eight; once from a school bully, twice from his brother, and five times from Russel when Murdoc was caught having sex with 2D's girlfriend. Nose breakages, however, are clearly not the only injury he's suffered. He was also disturbingly matter-of-fact about having been molested as a child, and given what we see onscreen there's only about a fifty percent chance he's making it up.
Murdoc is generally hilarious in his antics, but as the story progresses and his relationship with 2D starts to take on more domestic abuse undertones, it can get a little hard to laugh. Even ignoring certain implications that have cropped up, it's fact that Murdoc beats on 2D regularly, and that 2D is much too submissive to fight back, or simply leave. In the truest meaning of fridge horror, 2D's whole situation just gets more depressing the more it's thought about...
Murdoc being absentminded enough to bring up Paula during an interview while 2D was in the room led to a rather cathartic moment where 2D finally had the upper hand on Murdoc until Russ intervened. 2D was being detoxed from his pain killer addiction at the time. But then you realize — 2D off his meds is not someone whose Berserk Button you want to press, even accidentally.
In "Kids with Guns from Demon Days," 2-D is singing about children slowly taking over with guns, how they're "turning us into monsters," and that it's all for "desire." He may sing "Kids with guns... kids with guns" in a monotone voice, but when it gets to the chorus, he gets some emotion of hopelessness & grief in there. Now, imagine what he thought when CyborgNoodle came along? Dear God...
Crossing over into Brilliance, but still mostly Horror: Murdoc's toxic behaviors become a lot darker (but also easier to understand) when you realize that he's been abused during his childhood; some abuse victims end up behaving in a toxic manner because of how they were brought up. Other aspects of his character that aren't toxic can be linked to the abuse he's suffered; his hypersexuality, for example, could stem from the fact that he was molested as a kid, as there are a lot of victims of pedophilia who grow up to be hypersexual.