There’s a certain Japanese musician that’s been featured on the charts countless times for almost two decades now. Interestingly enough, most people aren’t even aware of who she is, let alone her Japanese heritage. She’s appeared in a plethora of music videos and her music has been played around the world for decades now. Many of you who are reading this have undoubtedly seen her somewhere before – Her quirky demeanor and cute postureis undeniably alluring. Shes might have even been a crush of yours during your childhood days, however the most defining fact about her is that she’s 100% animated. She is of course Noodle, the lead guitarist of the mega-popular animated band Gorillaz.
[Gorillaz Member Noodle]
The Gorillaz are an animated band on-screen, but their vocals and instrumentals are 100% real, comprised by Damon Albarn. Their visual counterpart is all hand drawn and animated by Jamie Hewlett. They’re not the first of their kind, but no one can deny that they’re the only popular animated band around. The concept of an animated band playing real sounds dates back to the 50s when Ross Bagdasarian Sr created ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks‘. This unique creation, while it may sound trivial now, would go on to win him two Grammy awards.
Ultimately, the trump card of having an animated band is that you could do with them as you please. Infusing creativity on a visual level which holds no restraints allows a band to jump out of helicopters, control giant robots and do just about anything you’d like them to while performing musically. It can even create a certain continuation which die-hard fans will closely follow. For example, each music video the Gorillaz put out is a continuation of the last. It shows the trials and tribulations which the band members are faced with chapter through chapter. Animated bands can entertain their fans both visually and audibly in ways that real physical bands never can.
[Excerpts from the Gorillaz video ‘Stylo’, featuring Bruce Willis]
Every member of the Gorillaz has their own persona, history and characteristics. Noodle for example was the lead guitarist of the band until the ‘El Manana‘ incident happened in her timeline’s continuity. Following that incident, she was replaced by a lookalike cyborg created by her band mate Murdoc. It’s worth pointing out that bands like FEMM which are comprised of real members can also partake in such fictional adventures. FEMM have a detailed backstory and all their music videos are comprised of large events in their continuity. However it’s worth pointing out that animation bypasses all restraints which dictate what real people can or can’t do.
[Excerpt from the FEMM video ‘Party All Night’]
Moreover, the concept of an animated band, which has been fiddled with by many over the years, has been pushed even further with the introduction of the Japanese vocaloid Hatsune Miku. The new concept of ‘vocaloids’ goes even further by releasing music that’s completely comprised of digital instruments and technology. The vocaloid Hatsune is a digital persona which produces vocals comprised by an advanced singing synthesizer. This concept is arguably the next technological advancement in the field of music, bypassing and challenging the very idea of what music or a singer is thought to be. The technology itself is created by Japan’s Yamaha Corporation, and is by far in a league completely of its own, even though it’s been released for some 10 years now.