There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Gorillaz recently, their new album comes out this month, a VR app has been released, and a TV miniseries has been rumored. Gorillaz is what is known as a virtual band. The members are cartoon characters and the actual creative talent behind them comes and goes. The two most constant members are the band’s co-creators, Damon Albarn, lead singer for the band Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, the comic book artist behind the celebrated Tank Girl. The project originally started as a commentary about the state of MTV. The pair were watching the music television program and reportedly noticed, "If you watch MTV for too long, it's a bit like hell, there's nothing of substance there.” The band has experienced wild success from the beginning with hits like “Clint Eastwood” and “Feel Good Inc.” topping the charts in multiple regions. If the current buzz is any indication, the Gorillaz’s popularity is only growing, and fans are in for an exciting year.
Over the past few weeks, several new singles and remixes have been released on the Gorillaz YouTube channel and Spotify profile to tease the release of their new album Humanz, which releases April 28th. Earlier this year, they released the single Hallelujah Money, which was poorly received initially and has since gained in popularity. Fans still typically rank it below the singles released since then. One of these singles, Saturnz Barz was released as a 360 degree video, a new technology allowing those with a VR headset to look around an active environment as they listen along to the song.
The Gorillaz app that was recently released also has 360 degree functionality. Those with Samsung Gear VR headsets or similar devices will be able to jump into the Gorillaz’ house and have a look around. Others will also be able to explore in less immersive fashion. This app is the planned venue for the “Humanz House Party,” a virtual event to debut their new album. The details of this event are still hazy, but it appears that there are 500 locations around the world that will have some sort of official listening party in addition to the virtual one.
While the new album is the centerpiece of the new wave of Gorillaz, there is also plenty of hype surrounding their other new ventures. A new festival called Demon Days, after the Gorillaz’ most successful album, will be in the UK and Chicago later this year. Plans for a 10 episode TV series are also moving forward. Depending on how the festival goes, it is suspected that it may become an annual event. Given that it sold out almost immediately, there is little doubt about its success. The TV series, while definitely an exciting idea, follows a movie deal with DreamWorks that fell through several years ago.
All in all, this year is shaping up to be a good one for Gorillaz fans. New music, new events, and new ideas are being brought up and used to bring people together over what is still a cartoon band. Fortunately, the concept has come a long way since Alvin and the Chipmunks and now, Gorillaz is pioneering both new sounds and new ways to listen.