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Trivia / Gorillaz

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Phase 3 was an odd variation; Plastic Beach was both a critical and a commercial success in that it was a chart-topper, but the phase's immense ambitions demanded equally immense budgets and resources that Gorillaz was unable to recoup. The "Stylo" music video was known for having gone way overbudget, while the "Escape to Plastic Beach" world tour barely broke even with each show, with Damon Albarn recounting "It was incredible fun, I loved doing it, but economically it was an absolute fucking disaster." This is widely accepted as why EMI (which was already suffering huge financial problems leading up to its eventual collapse in 2012) pulled the plug on the whole thing before it could be fully resolved, and why the band hasn't ventured into anything as high-scope and grandiose as the saga since.
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  • Approval of God: The official Gorillaz YouTube account commented on Richard Van As' fan recreation of the scrapped "Rhinestone Eyes" music video with an oncoming fist (fist bump) emoji (👊).
  • Ascended Fanon: Wikipedia's article on the song El Mañana noted that the helicopters in the video didn't match the ones from Feel Good Inc., and proposed an explanation for it. This article was quoted in Rise of the Ogre, with Murdoc replying, "Er... yeah. That sounds about right."
    • Sometimes the band's social media posts involving Murdoc would have a pickle emoji in it, referencing the fandom's various pickle themed nicknames for Murdoc, and in the Gorillaz Almanac, there was even a spoof ad for a brand of pickles Murdoc was advertising named Niccals Pickles.
  • Creator's Favorite: Noodle is Jamie Hewlett's favorite character, and while she isn't without her detractors, she is generally very well liked by the fanbase.
  • Cut Song: Plastic Beach had a huge amount of music scrapped, most notably a collaboration with post-punk band The Horrors for the song "Leviathan" and most infamously "Crashing Down", which was used for the Russell indent.
  • The Danza:
    • Del the Ghost Rapper was named after Del the Funkee Homosapien, who raps in the songs Clint Eastwood and Rock the House.
    • You have to read 2D's lips, but when he sees the hitman chasing them in the "Stylo" video, he says "It's Bruce" to Murdoc. The hitman's played by Bruce Willis. Considering his roles in action movies, it's possible he's playing As Himself in the video.
  • Development Hell: Gorillaz has a really unfortunate tendency for their projects beyond the actual music itself to fail meeting the light of day thanks to developmental issues.
    • Celebrity Harvest was meant to be the band's Big Damn Movie, produced by DreamWorks Animation and set to release in 2003. While many elements involved in it would become integrated with the band's lore during Phase 2 and Demon Days, the film was quietly cancelled due to conflicts of interest — the plot centered around as a mature critique of modern celebrity culture leading to a dark apocalypse, but DreamWorks kept insisting to Hewlett of making it family-friendly.
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    • A huge fraction of content intended to serve Plastic Beach and the band's Phase 3 was left on the cutting room floor thanks to going overbudget, Creative Differences, and declining label faith, leaving it vastly incomplete. Even after Gorillaz reformed out of its hiatus, they've largely ignored the plot of this era, and aside from the video of "The Lost Chord" and mild contemplation by Damon Albarn of a sequel, it seems it'll stay that way for a while.
    • During the release of Humanz, Hewlett also teased a future bigger series to supplement the band, initially in 2017 a future 10-episode TV series, though without word on a broadcaster or definite release date. This morphed by 2018 into talks of a movie which he wrote the script for, with the most commonly-attached studio of note being Netflix Animation. Once Song Machine was underway in 2020, both Hewlett and Albarn have since confirmed that production on the film was occurring, though concrete details on its release and content have yet to surface.
  • Development Gag: Noodle was going to be the same age as the rest of the band, before being redesigned as a child. The original design was later recycled for Paula Cracker, who in lore was the original guitarist before being quickly replaced by Noodle.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The video and single release of "Rhinestone Eyes" was pulled and replaced with "Doncamatic". This has led to a lot of people being concerned about how much trust EMI has in the project anymore. Hewlett claimed later that EMI didn't have the money to afford another video, since "Stylo" turned out to cost much more than they expected.
    • These fears are being renewed now that EMI has pulled their funding for the rest of the Plastic Beach arc, resulting in a rushed ending.
  • Fake American: The American Russel is voiced by Remi Kabaka, a Brit.
  • Fan Nickname: It's common to see the ship steward that tries to escort Noodle to safety at the start of the On Melancholy Hill video get referred to as "Lifebewtz Guy" or even just "Lifebewtz", for obvious reasons.
  • Flip-Flop of God: The ultimate fate of Cyborg Noodle after Phase 3. Supplementary material tell that she was either destroyed by Noodle on Plastic Beach after malfunctioning in "Rhinestone Eyes", escaped with Murdoc but still dismantled at a later date (with her head being used as a plant pot), or is still functioning and at the helm of a band called "The Rejects". "The Lost Chord" shows her still on Plastic Beach, apparently active, plummeting into the sea depths in a submarine.
  • In Memoriam: "How Far?" featuring Tony Allen and Skepta was released on May 2, 2020, much earlier than what the Song Machine series' usual monthly schedule entailed, due to Allen — a longtime collaborator and friend to Damon Albarn — having passed away two days earlier.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Rise of the Ogre, despite being the band's biography, apparently hasn't been printed since its initial publication, since no book store seems to have it and Amazon prices range from 70 to 100 bucks, and it's even worse on eBay.
  • Life Imitates Art: Humanz as an entire project fell into a bit of this before it was completed and released — the broad direction for the album that Damon Albarn shared to collaborators was that of a party during the end of the world, specifically imagining a dark future where Donald Trump won the US presidential election. This was before Trump won the Republican nomination and before he actually did win, which rattled all the participants. Trump's victory is directly why in the final album, all mentions of his name are censored out, as Albarn refused to "give the most famous man on earth any more fame."
  • Name's the Same:
    • Murdoc's playground nemesis, Tony Chopper.
    • "Russell Hobbs" is a brand of iron.
    • Noodle is also the nickname of Kevin Wasserman of The Offspring (albeit plural). Both were nicknamed from the style of guitar playing known as "noodling".
  • No Budget: The downside of the Gorillaz project going independent starting in 2019 was that the budget for Song Machine was much more limited, not helped by the COVID-19 Pandemic forcing the production team to work remotely. As a result, that phase's videos are much more simplistic and reuse larger amounts of animation.
  • No Export for You: Gorillaz is known to leave off several tracks for each album either as secret bonuses, incentive to buy additional EPs or special-edition albums, or for foreign editions such as in Japan. Usually, however, at the end of a phase a corresponding B-side album is released containing these songs. Unfortunately, the supplemental material plays this completely straight.
  • Promoted Fanboy: A variant of sorts with Remi Kabaka Jr. He initially only provided the voice of Gorillaz drummer Russel Hobbs, but would eventually become a co-producer for the band, contributing to Humanz and The Now-Now.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: The video for "The Valley of the Pagans", which uses footage from Grand Theft Auto V, was made private on Youtube only four days after it premiered - rumour has it that Jamie Hewlett and the team did obtain permission to use game footage, but failed to credit Rockstar Games in the video itself or the description. The video would later be edited and reuploaded with all the GTA footage completely removed. Instead, more focus is put on Beck while the Pagan itself drives along a long stretch of a non-descript CGI highway.
  • So My Kids Can Watch:
    • The exact reason why Bobby Womack came out of retirement to sing on "Stylo" (his daughter specifically nudged him to work with Albarn). The song revitalized public interest in Womack, leading to his first album in 18 years.
    • Damon Albarn has admitted that some of the collaborators that he picked to work with on Humanz was largely because his daughter was a fan of them, and he hoped she would still think her dad was cool.
  • Technology Marches On: At the time, the fact that the first Gorillaz CD gave you access to exclusive content on the band's interactive site was revolutionary. Now, if you play that movie that pops up when you put the disc into your computer all the way through, your browser opens up... to an error message. Indeed the whole "Enhanced CD" fad was on its last legs around the time of the first Gorillaz album. Compare Demon Days and Plastic Beach which feature no such Autoplay content, but merely references in the booklet to sections of the band's website to find lyrics and other content.
  • Throw It In!: According to interviews, the title of the song "Dare" came from the fact that the guest singer, Shaun Ryder, couldn't pronounce "there" because of his accent. The original lyric was, "It's coming up, it's coming up, it's coming up, it's there!" But it was changed after a few takes proved it impossible to record that understandably.
  • Troubled Production: Song Machine began production in mid-2019, but while things began smoothly, the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic caused multiple complications in developing the music and the videos — later song collaboration had to be done remotely with email and Zoom sessions, and the inability to film in Studio 13 (the set for Kong Studios and their actual recording studio) forced Jamie Hewlett to create new video scenarios from "Strange Timez" onwards once he ran out of backlog footage, explaining their month-long hiatus following the release of "PAC-MAN". In an odd twist of events, the pandemic is also what resulted in the band deciding to release Season One: Strange Timez as an album despite their original plan for Song Machine to be a purely episodic series.
  • Trolling Creator: Gorillaz has a weird relationship with lyrics, with Damon Albarn noted for preferring to sing words first, worry about what they actually said later, a big reason why the band almost never has any "official" lyrics. The height of this came in the lyric videos for Song Machine, where many lyrics given are blatantly incorrect and full of mondegreens, and in one instance the video gives up because of 2D's unintelligibility. No official word has been given on why this is, but it's likely the product of videomakers and co simply screwing around with audiences.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Paula was originally meant to be guitarist, until Jamie redesigned her as a ten-year-old. There was also a Bongo-playing Ape involved.
    • Russel was originally envisioned by Jamie Hewlett as having a British accent to reflect on his time living in England, but Damon Albarn requested he keep his American accent instead in order to appeal more to an American audience. Earlier sketches for the character also had him as The Teetotaler, who didn't smoke, drink or use drugs.
    • Del The Funkee Homosapien's appearance on "Clint Eastwood" was a last minute addition, and he almost declined. They originally recorded a version with verses by the group Phi Life Cypher, but Dan The Automator later decided that he wanted Del on the song instead. Because Automator asked him to do it at the end of a long session for the first Deltron 3030 album, Del initially just wanted to call it a day. The Phi Life Cypher version appeared on G-Sides, but the Del version on Gorillaz is much better known.
    • "5/4" was originally going to be released as a single, but was replaced by "19-2000" at the last minute. An animatic was also made for a corresponding music video, but it was left unfinished.
    • As revealed on D-Sides, "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" was originally going to sound a lot different, vastly more like a snappy acoustic joint rather than heavenly gospel-pop.
    • Around 2003 and the preamble to Demon Days, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett teased the existence of an upcoming feature-length Gorillaz movie with DreamWorks Animation referred to as Celebrity Harvestnote , whose plot was about "the end of time, brought out by the sickness of celebrity culture". It was scrapped as Dreamworks kept insisting on making it family-friendly, and many of the aesthetic and story elements (such as backstories for Noodle and Russel) were repurposed elsewhere throughout Phase 2 media.
    • Phase 3 had an entire 2 hours of music that was getting saved for a sequel album that was never made called Carousel (it was worked on from mid-2008 to late 2009 before being scrapped and turned into Plastic Beach).
    • At the end of Phase 3, originally envisioned as an epic trilogy of albums, it was originally going to be revealed that Murdoc is actually an immortalist who has existed since the beginning of the universe, constantly dying and being reincarnated at various points throughout history and slowly causing the end of the world. It was also going to be revealed that Gorillaz were the final stage in the evolution of mankind, and that Plastic Beach was actually the top of a plug that would trigger the end of the world, and would suck everything in existence into a drain, including Gorillaz themselves.
    • A book in a similar vein to Rise of the Ogre was originally planned to be released toward the end of Phase 3 in order to tie up and expand Plastic Beach's storyline. Eventually, this idea was modified into being an e-book rather than a physical book before being dropped entirely.
    • Humanz had several potential artists Damon Albarn wanted to work, but didn't make it on the final product. Morrissey, Rick Ross, Sade, and Dionne Warwick "politely declined" (the latter citing some of the lyrics conflicting with her religious beliefs), while recording was done with Christine and the Queens, Erykah Badu, and Rag'n'Bone Man, but their contributions didn't reach completion.
    • During the 2018 Demon Dayz Festival, one bit of promotional material was a poster for a band called "The Rejects" (whose scheduled performance was cancelled), featuring none other than Cyborg Noodle and an unnamed, Frankenstein's Monster-looking character. According to a 2020 interview with Jamie Hewlett, The Rejects were a planned spinoff band featuring Cyborg Noodle on guitar and the monster on vocals (he would have "the voice of an angel"), but it was scrapped.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Gorillaz Wiki.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Cass Browne, who provided drums for the band at various points across its first three albums, was responsible for writing all dialogue for the characters throughout this period, as well as penning the band's autobiography Rise of the Ogre. While Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn had the authority to override any story decisions he made (which led to the infamously loose continuity seen in phases 2 and especially 3), he is still considered to be one of the main creative forces behind the band during these periods and is the source of a significant amount of the information about the Cut Short plot of Phase 3.
  • Working Title: Humanz was originally supposed to be titled Transformerz, but Damon Albarn was convinced to change it by his daughter, because "it’d only remind people of those big, loud Michael Bay movies these days." This would later be referenced in the Super Deluxe edition of Humanz, ending with an instrumental track titled "Tranzformer".


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