Drop the Needle

Juniors Felicity Whidden and Jeremy Zelken review Gorillaz’s 2010 “Plastic Beach”

Drop the Needle

Album: Plastic Beach

Artist(s): Gorillaz

Genre: Alternative, Electronic, Hip-Hop

Release Date: March 3, 2010

Length: 16 songs, 56 min 53 sec

*Jeremy’s pick*


Music lovers Felicity and Jeremy hope their new column, Drop the Needle, can be a great way to promote diversity in music and expose readers to different types of genres and artists.

Plastic Beach, Gorillaz third studio album, had its 12th anniversary this March. This album released by the “virtual band” was originally an unfinished project called Carousel mostly produced by Damon Albarn, the lead singer/songwriter of Gorillaz and frontman of the popular indie rock band, Blur. The album was recorded starting around June 2008, and the recording process finished around November 2009. Albarn told BBC radio in a 2010 interview, “I was walking on Hallsands beach in south Devon around 18 months ago, where I have a house just on the cliffs above it. It’s a very clean beach generally, but I realized that there was an amount of very small particles that weren’t stone or glass, but plastic. It was the beginning of a meditation on the state of our oceans.” This is where he began to gather the theme of this album. Jamie Hewlett, another member of Gorillaz, said that he was sick of drawing the same cartoon characters over and over again for the band, so he decided to redraw them for this album. He wanted to make them look older and told them in a different way than usual. So this is where the album began to gain purpose. This classic album contains songs of all different genres, from electronic, to orchestral, to hip-hop. Along with featuring a blend of genres, it features a wide range of artists, such as, De La Soul, Lou Reed, Little Dragon, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, and even more. This album really does it all. On the track, White Flag, we hear an orchestral intro, and then the song fades into Bashy and Kano, two hip-hop artists, rapping on an electronic sounding beat. Another track blending genres is Superfast Jellyfish, which features De La Soul and Gruff Rhys. This song features rapping from De La Soul, but a pop-sounding chorus sung by Damon Albarn and Gruff Rhys. On Melancholy Hill, a more mellow track on the album, features some of the most incredible production I’ve ever heard with meaningful lyrics written by Albarn. Overall, this album is an interesting listen throughout and provides an incredible experience for the listener due to the blend of genres.

Favorite Tracks: To Binge, Empire Ants, On Melancholy Hill

Felicity: I am so glad Jeremy picked this album to review, (as it is the 12th anniversary after all) and although I would not consider it in my top ten albums of all time, it is one that I consistently go back to and have since a young age when I first heard On Melancholy Hill, which remains one of my favorite songs to this day. This album works for any mood: Rhinestone Eyes is an energetic, and electronic sound with Albarn’s discernible British accent talking throughout. Glitter Freeze, however, mellows the album down with a slower, more melodic approach and mystical-like lyrics. This is an album with not one filler song; every song contributes to the album’s story and offers complex rhythms, lyrics, and complimenting features. Albarn pulls many features one would not expect which adds to the beauty and unpredictability of the songs. White Flag, an easy example of an unusual feature, begins with an orchestra of violins before an epic beat drop where artists Bashy and Kano begin to rap. I would recommend this album as it is such a unique listen and every song can easily become a favorite.

Favorite Tracks: On Melancholy Hill, White Flag, Rhinestone Eyes