“Fifteen years ago, people were having actual arguments about who was better: Damon Albarn or Noel Gallagher? Good times.”
That quote is from a Pitchfork post on “Melancholy Hill”, a song off the new Gorillaz album Plastic Beach.
It is funny to think that in the mid-‘90s, Britpop was revolutionized (and to a greater extent, created) by two bands that were at odds with each other: Albarn’s Blur and Gallagher’s Oasis. The rivalry between the two popular rock groups came to a head when both planned on releasing new singles in the same week (Blur with “Country House” and Oasis with “Roll With It”). Blur’s single outsold Oasis’ that week. However, Oasis would be crowned Britpop kings when their upcoming album What’s the Story (Morning Glory), ended up selling 14 million copies worldwide.
But here we are, almost 15 years later, and things couldn’t be any different. Albarn has cemented himself as a brilliant and diverse songwriter, while the Gallagher brothers—up until their breakup in 2009—continued to churn out the same Britpop they had been writing for more than a decade.
The cartoon band Gorillaz is the product of Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. Albarn is the band’s principle songwriter. Their newest album, Plastic Beach has received high marks across the board. Their first two albums went multi-platinum, and Beach is likely to do the same.
On top of Gorillaz, Albarn formed the group The Good, the Bad & the Queen—who released their critically acclaimed debut album in 2007. He also composed the soundtrack for the musical Monkey: Journey to the West, where he collaborated with the UK Chinese Ensemble.
Below is a short video retrospective of Damon Albarn’s musical career: