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Gorillaz teams up with Thundercat on new song “Cracker Island”

This is the cartoon group’s first release of 2022.

Gorillaz has a long history of working with unexpected collaborators who end up rising to the challenge and bringing humor and energy to the cartoon rock band. The lively team has collaborated with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Robert Smith, and on their latest song, “Cracker Island,” they groove effortlessly alongside jazz-funk bassist, singer, and songwriter Thundercat. “Cracker Island” is Gorillaz’s first new track of 2022, and it debuted in the Top 10 on the Genius Top Songs chart.

Another thing Gorillaz is known to do well is offer insightful critiques of humanity – the kind that’s somehow easier to digest coming from a bunch of cartoons. “Cracker Island” continues this proud tradition, introducing a cult theme that goes beyond the song. The band – or more accurately musical mastermind Damon Albarn – has launched a website inviting fans to sign up for “The Last Cult”.

“It’s nice to be back,” read a statement from 2-D, the band’s fictional lead singer. “I’m good with our new track, it brings back weird and scary memories of things that haven’t happened yet.” With its talk of crooks tricking people into trading their souls for the promise of an elusive utopia, ‘Cracker Island’ could be about Trumpers, crypto bros, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, billionaires tech, real religious cult leaders, or any other group with dubious ideas about how to make the world a better place.

Albarn voices in 2D and uses the opening verse to set the scene.

On Cracker Island he was born
At dawn collective
They planted seeds at night
To cultivate an invented paradise
Where the truth was automatically settled

But Albarn knows that believing these lies comes at a price. Thundercat echoes Albarn’s concerns with its parenthetical response voice.

In the end I had to pay (What world is this?)
In the end I had to pay (I purged my soul)
In the end, I had to pay (I drank to write)

On deck, Thundercat watches what has become of the island with a sense of disbelief.

What world is this?
What world is this?

Things take a dark turn in the third and final verse, as 2-D seems to portray something like mass suicide. The line on the “bright lightning bolt” is reminiscent of comet Hale-Bopp, which followers of the Heaven’s Gate cult believe hid an alien spacecraft. In March 1997, 39 people, including cult leader Marshall Applewhite, committed suicide in hopes of boarding the spaceship and entering heaven.

On Cracker Island he will die (worship Forever)
Join the collective in the sky (Forever cult)
And on the shining shine of light (worship forever)
Go up to heaven (What world is it?)

Gorillaz produced “Cracker Island” with hitmaker Greg Kurstin and Remi Kabaka Jr., the drummer and producer who long provided the vocals for Gorillaz drummer Russel Hobbs.

You can read all the lyrics to “Cracker Island” on Genius now.