The concept of Plastic Beach by Gorillaz (2010)


Check out Part 2: The art of Plastic Beach
…and Part 3: The music of Plastic Beach

Artist: Gorillaz
Album: Plastic Beach
Year: 2010

The history of Gorillaz is long, interesting, and worthy of another post at another time. So I’ll assume that you’re familiar with the band and its music…but did you know what exactly has been going on around the music for all of these years? Gorillaz started as a joint concept between Damon Albarn (the music) and Jamie Hewlett (everything else) to create the idea of a band that is not personified by the humans who make it up, but rather by fictional images and characters that bring the music further to life. In fact, the actual roster of musicians in Gorillaz is so fluid that I’d wager Albarn would have a hard time listing everyone who has appeared on the band’s roster.

The band’s image has always been four cartoon characters named Noodle, 2D, Russel and Murdoc (left to right in the pic here). Their look has evolved somewhat over the years, to keep fresh ideas flowing while continuing to follow the rules of the original design. You can check out the album covers of 2001’s Gorillaz and 2005’s Demon Days for examples of their “look” at that time…but the best thing to do is a simple image search online to see pages and pages of Gorillaz art! For Plastic Beach, the first stuff we saw was exciting in that it combined some ideas of the original cartoons with great-looking 3D animation. A series of four videos were released that chronicled the beginning of each band member’s journey to Plastic Beach, whatever that was going to be:
2D‘s abduction
Russell‘s journey
Noodle in high drama
– and of course…Murdoc‘s adventure:

Whatever got them there…where is “there”? Plastic Beach turned out to be the remote island where the album was recorded. Of course this is the “concept”, and in reality Albarn flew all around the planet to collaborate with musicians. But let’s stay not in reality…in order to paint a picture of what the album was going to sound like, Murdoc hijacked the airwaves of NME to broadcast five episodes of Pirate Radio, or “Point Nemo FM”. On these broadcasts, he talked a lot about what he was up to (mostly drinking rum), played his favorite songs (which sometimes were within the theme/concept), discussed recording the new album, and occasionally he played a snippet of a song that would ultimately appear on Plastic Beach. If you’re a Gorillaz fan, these are must-listen broadcasts that will keep you entertained for hours!

We never really learned exactly what Plastic Beach is…but we do know that it’s a floating heap of plastic and junk, probably representing the way in which humans dispose of our garbage at sea. But the beauty in this garbage is that it’s been recycled to create a beautiful “beach” where wonderful music was made. What’s the statement being made on the environment here? I don’t know exactly, but the art has done its job by getting us to talk and think about its message! I’ll talk more about the art of Plastic Beach in Part 2 tomorrow…

Check out Part 2: The art of Plastic Beach
…and Part 3: The music of Plastic Beach

What do you think about this album? Comment below


4 Responses to “The concept of Plastic Beach by Gorillaz (2010)”

  1. 1 J

    sorry i need to do this english project but i can’t watch the videos as it is not avaliable in my country…..can you repost it so that i can watch it? thx.

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  3. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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