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Best Gorillaz Songs: 20 Tracks That Animated The Pop Charts
List & Guides

Best Gorillaz Songs: 20 Tracks That Animated The Pop Charts

From alt-rap collaborations to synth-pop wistfulness, the best Gorillaz songs are a masterclass in blending genres and pushing boundaries.

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Ever since releasing their debut album in 2001, Gorillaz have done the unthinkable and become one of the most influential and beloved musical acts of the 21st century. The brainchild of Blur frontman Damon Albarn and visual artist Jamie Hewlett, this “virtual band” of misfits (Murdoc Niccals, 2-D, Noodle and Russel Hobbs) have never failed to surprise and delight listeners across the world. Whether featuring guest artists such as De La Soul and Del The Funky Homosapien, or channelling Albarn’s melodically eccentric impulses, the best Gorillaz songs comprise a unique blend of alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic music. Here we explore Gorillaz’s evolution across a string of critically acclaimed albums and singles.

Listen to the best of Gorillaz here, and check out the best Gorillaz songs, below.

20: Saturnz Barz (featuring Popcaan) (From ‘Humanz’, 2017)

A standout track from Gorillaz’s fifth studio album, Humanz, Saturnz Barz features a hypnotic, trap-inspired beat with a haunting melody crackling with otherworldly vibes. Adding a unique flavour to the song is the Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan, who lends his Caribbean tones to Damon Albarn’s giddy pop nous. The music video, which was produced in 360-degree virtual reality, is a one-of-a-kind visual trip through a haunted house in space; not only complementing the eerie atmosphere of the song, it also broke the record for the biggest VR debut on YouTube upon its release in 2017. As captivating and immersive musical experiences go, Saturnz Barz is out of this world.

19: Humility (featuring George Benson) (from ‘The Now Now’, 2018)

Amping up the feel-good vibrations, Humility’s funky bassline and catchy chorus was one of the highlights from Gorillaz’s sixth album, The Now Now. With legendary jazz guitarist George Benson adding his uniquely soulful fretwork, the song quickly went viral thanks to a fun and colourful promo film which played tribute to classic skateboarding videos. “It became a gigantic success instantly,” Benson later told Forbes. “Thirty million views on YouTube, I think, the first week or two.” A refreshing departure from Gorillaz’s usual sound and a testament to Albarn’s versatility as a songwriter, Humility kickflips its way into the best Gorillaz songs.

18: Rock The House (featuring Del The Funky Homosapien) (from ‘Gorillaz’, 2001)

A high-energy, horn-sampling rump-shaker, Rock The House was the third single to be released from Gorillaz’s self-titled debut album. Peaking at No.18 in the UK, the song’s driving groove is well oiled by rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien’s rapid-fire vocal delivery, bringing buckets of intensity to the tune’s hip-swinging tempo. The music video, which features the band pelted with billiard balls while performing at their home in Kong Studios, is a chaotic and entertaining spectacle that perfectly captures the anarchic spirit behind the Gorillaz concept. Both catchy and edgy, Rock The House stands out among the best Gorillaz songs for highlighting Albarn’s propensity for fearless genre-bending.

17: Superfast Jellyfish (featuring Gruff Rhys and De La Soul) (from ‘Plastic Beach’, 2010)

Exuding whimsy and playfulness, Superfast Jellyfish saw 2-D and co reunite with De La Soul for the second single from Gorillaz’s third studio album, Plastic Beach. Joining them this time is Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, who has a hoot bringing a sense of fun and quirkiness to proceedings. “When you think about Gorillaz, it makes sense to have a Super Furry Animal on there, doesn’t it?” Gorillaz bassist Murdoc later explained. “I’ve always loved them.” With a music video lampooning animated commercials for various food products, Superfast Jellyfish is perhaps best seen as a satirical commentary on consumerism and advertising, with tongue firmly in cheek throughout. Light-hearted and fun, the song demonstrates the band’s ability to blend humour and social commentary with undeniably catchy music.

16: Doncamatic (featuring Daley) (standalone single, 2010)

A hidden gem among the best Gorillaz songs, the smooth and upbeat pop curio Doncamatic was released as a non-album single in late 2010 and peaked at No.37 in the UK. The way British singer Daley adds his soulful tones to the track’s parping synth-based groove truly elevates it to another realm. “Gorillaz is just an amazing family to become a part of,” Daley said in an interview with NME. “We definitely agreed that we wanted to write a pop song, so it’s a bit different from a normal Gorillaz song.” The music video, which features an animated Daley doing a spot of marine exploration in a futuristic watercraft, is a stunning visual feast that revisits the conceptual setting of Plastic Beach. With an innovative spirit and untrammelled sense of fun, Doncamatic is sorely underrated, and it remains leagues beyond most pop hits of its day.

15: New Gold (featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown) (from ‘Cracker Island’, 2022)

Effortlessly mixing the psychedelic rock wiles of Kevin Parker, from Tame Impala, with the alternative rap flow of The Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown, New Gold is a 24-carat wonder from Gorillaz’s eighth album, Cracker Island. Underpinned by a driving bassline, vibrant sonic textures and intricate rhythms, the song’s lyrics home in on the modern world of social-media influencers, seemingly decrying our shiny tweets and glittering instaposts as nothing but fool’s gold. From Brown’s effortless flow to Parker’s dreamy vocal hook, New Gold gifted fans yet another bounty of genre-bending bedazzlement.

14: Momentary Bliss (featuring Slowthai and Slaves) (from ‘Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez’, 2020)

A spirited fusion of punk and hip-hop, Momentary Bliss sees British rapper Slowthai and punk band Slaves combine their raw and rebellious chakras with colourful results. Released as the lead single from Gorillaz’s seventh studio album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, it’s a swirling rager that’s equal parts reggae-rock and electro-punk – a miasmic stew of styles that’s intoxicatingly potent. As well as capturing Albarn’s twin loves of bawdy Brit-rock and inventive rap hooks, Momentary Bliss easily earns its place among the best Gorillaz songs for bringing the band’s adventurous and chaotic spirit to the fore.

13: Cracker Island (featuring Thundercat) (from ‘Cracker Island’, 2022)

Combining elements of hip-hop, funk, jazz and soul, Gorillaz’s collaboration with Thundercat press-gangs listeners into taking a journey to Cracker Island. On a song which is about a cult of people who “all kind of live together happily in their own kind of echo chamber Cracker Island”, as Albarn told BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, Thundercat’s falsetto backing vocals fit perfectly, while Albarn’s thought-provoking lyrics are on top form. Their most streamlined pop cut in years, Cracker Island’s impeccable production makes it an essential addition to the best Gorillaz songs.

12: Tomorrow Comes Today (from ‘Gorillaz’, 2001)

Creating a unique sonic atmosphere by way of trip-hop beats, strings and acoustic guitar, Tomorrow Comes Today featured as the opening track on the band’s self-titled debut album, and it remains a fan favourite. “This song is sort of about the idea that… you think you’ll ignore tomorrow and have your fun today,” Gorillaz bassist Murdoc explained. “Take it all up front, y’know?” Peaking at No.33 in the UK upon its release as a single, the song sees Albarn channel vulnerability and deeply introspective moods which are brilliantly exemplified by a music video in which 2-D wanders through a dark and desolate urban terrain. Both emotionally resonant and artistically innovative, Tomorrow Comes Today is nothing short of stunning.

11: Aries (featuring Peter Hook and Georgia) (from ‘Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez’, 2020)

The iconic Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook happily adds his distinctive post-punk sound to Aries’ dreamy and atmospheric melody. Released as part of Gorillaz’s star-studded Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, the 80s-pop-indebted song also features New Zealand singer-songwriter Georgia, whose smooth and catchy vocals mesmerise the listener at every turn. A prime example of Gorillaz’s ability to collaborate with top-tier artists and create music that pushes boundaries and blurs genre categorisations, you don’t need a crash course in astrology to appreciate Aries.

10: El Mañana (from ‘Demon Days’, 2006)

Believed by many to be a veiled comment on post-9/11 despair (“I saw that day/Lost my mind”), El Mañana’s hauntingly beautiful melody made it a standout track from Gorillaz’s second album, Demon Days. Partnered with Kids With Guns for release as a double A-side single, the song peaked at No.27 in the UK, its themes of loss and uncertainty chiming perfectly with the times. The use of orchestral strings and electronic beats creates a unique and immersive soundscape for Albarn’s melancholic vocals, making for a breathtaking example of what the best Gorillaz songs are capable of.

9: 19-2000 (from ‘Gorillaz’, 2001)

Grooving along to an infectious toy-box rhythm, 19-2000 followed hot on the heels of Clint Eastwood’s success, and came with an equally iconic music video, featuring the cartoon-led group cruising around on a dune buggy. With its carefree and fun-loving energy, the track peaked at No.6 in the UK and signalled a new direction for post-millennial pop. “I wrote this around the end of the last millennium, as the clocks were changing and the 21st century was dawning,” Murdoc explained. “A new age was upon us.” Refreshingly playful in its use of electro-pop hooks, 19-2000 proved that there was life beyond Blur for Damon Albarn’s songwriting ambitions.

8: Kids With Guns (from ‘Demon Days’, 2006)

Capturing themes of violence and unrest, Kids With Guns came along at a time when US school shootings were once again in the news headlines and the “War On Terror” was looming. Written in response to an incident in which a boy was expelled from his daughter’s school for having a knife, the song meditates on the demonisation of youth and the creeping fear of tabloid-fuelled moral panic. “It’s a very real problem, but I’m not treating it as a problem,” Albarn later said. “It’s part of the brutalisation of a generation that’s going on at the moment.” With its dark and foreboding bass notes and dystopian lyrics, Kids With Guns earns its stripes among the best Gorillaz songs for making a chilling bid for social relevance.

7: Stylo (featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def) (from ‘Plastic Beach’, 2010)

Released as the lead single from Plastic Beach, Stylo swerves into electro-funk territory with delirium-inducing guest spots from R&B legend Bobby Womack and rapper Mos Def. “This is a new sound for Gorillaz,” Murdoc told NME. “An electro-ish ‘crack funk’ sound, with a little bit of politics and a lot of soul going down.” The wild combination of Stylo’s pulsing electronic rhythm and floor-shuddering synth-funk bass remains highly original, as does its action-packed music video, which features an animated car chase through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With Womack’s soulful eruption evoking the song’s themes of escapism and rebellion, Stylo burrows its way into the cerebral cortex as only the best Gorillaz songs can.

6: Dirty Harry (featuring Bootie Brown) (from ‘Demon Days’, 2005)

Driven by a sense of urgency that underscores the song’s themes of war and violence, Dirty Harry peaked at No.6 in the UK, at a time when the invasion of Iraq was at the forefront of everybody’s minds. Alongside powerful and politically charged verses from Bootie Brown, the song’s use of a children’s choir makes Albarn’s lyrics doubly prescient and haunting (“I need a gun/To keep myself from harm”). Dirty Harry showcases Albarn’s aptitude for crafting massive pop hits that are both thought-provoking and socially relevant.

5: Rhinestone Eyes (from ‘Plastic Beach’, 2010)

An immaculately-produced electro-funk pop ballad, Rhinestone Eyes perfectly melds acoustic guitar with minimalist beats to hook listeners from the very first note. Exploring themes of hopelessness and desperation, the song features one of Gorillaz’s most immersive soundscapes to date, and is one of many high points on Plastic Beach. “This one was recorded in my little submarine,” Murdoc said in a track-by-track guide to the album. “I nicked a bit of my own Electric Shock track, and stuck it in here, with a little delay over the top. Came out quite well, don’t you think?” With emotive and passionate vocals from Albarn, Rhinestone Eyes is a rich and rewarding listen among the best Gorillaz songs, and could well be regarded as a pop masterpiece.

4: DARE (featuring Shaun Ryder) (from ‘Demon Days’, 2005)

With guest vocals provided by Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman Shaun Ryder, DARE is nothing short of an indie disco classic, amping up the party vibes with electro beats and funky bass work. Mixing the grooviness of Madchester with the energy of clubland electronica, the song peaked at No.1 in the UK and became the biggest hit from the Demon Days album. Naturally, Ryder’s performance in the music video (he appears as a disembodied head, shouting in his inimitable Mancunian drawl) is as charismatic and infectious as it gets. “As the tune starts, I flick a switch and all the tubes begin pumping various liquids into Shaun’s head,” Gorillaz guitarist Noodle said. “The combination of liquid and the music is irresistible! And Shaun comes to life!” Like reanimating Frankenstein’s monster, DARE put the “happy” back into our Mondays, and it still stands tall among the best Gorillaz songs.

3: Clint Eastwood (featuring Del The Funky Homosapien) (from ‘Gorillaz’, 2001)

With a laidback reggae-tinged rhythm remarkably interpolated from a Suzuki Omnichord preset, Clint Eastwood changed the face of pop music forever, becoming a UK Top 5 hit as it did so. Released as Gorillaz’s debut single, it mixed Damon Albarn’s love of rap-inspired beats, reggae influences and trip-hop grooves into a cool-headed classic. “We were recording in Jamaica and listening to a lot of dancehall music,” Albarn said in a Reddit AMA, “and we imagined a cool moniker to have would be Clint Eastwood.” Arriving like gunslingers in a long-lost Spaghetti Western, not only did Gorillaz drop one of the best 2000s music videos with Clint Eastwood, but the song proved to be a revolutionary showcase of the band’s eclecticism and versatility. Not bad for a bunch of cartoons.

2: On Melancholy Hill (from ‘Plastic Beach’, 2010)

Probably the closest Damon Albarn has ever come to writing his own Waterloo Sunset, On Melancholy Hill is a pop ballad par excellence. A blissful blend of electronic beats, ethereal synths and acoustic guitar creates a lush and atmospheric air of melancholia, brilliantly underscored by Albarn’s wistful and reflective lyrics. “On one hand, it’s part of the pessimism of our consumer condition,” Albarn said about the song in an interview with Spinner. “On the other hand, there’s a kind of beauty in it, and that’s where the melancholy wins for me.” Both introspective and nostalgic, On Melancholy Hill deserves to sit proudly near the top of any list of the best Gorillaz songs.

1: Feel Good Inc. (featuring De La Soul) (from ‘Demon Days’, 2005)

One of Gorillaz’s most popular and recognisable hits, Feel Good Inc. boasts a combination of funky basslines and catchy hooks that remains unsurpassed. Featuring the manic laughter of Maceo from De La Soul, as well as no-holds-barred rap verses from Posdnuos and the late Trugoy, the song peaked at No.2 in the UK and perfectly captures the band’s eclectic and genre-defying style. Albarn’s lyrics, which deal with themes of consumerism and the superficiality of modern culture, are both thought-provoking and playful, leaving little doubt over Feel Good Inc.’s reputation as a classic among the best 2000s songs. A masterpiece that perfectly encapsulates the band’s unique sound and artistic vision, it also deservedly tops our list of the best Gorillaz songs.

Find out where Gorillaz rank among the best 20000s musicians.

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