Old Favourites: Gnarls Barkley – “Smiley Faces”

“What went right? What went wrong? Was it a story, or was it a song?”

There was a time when Gnarls Barkley was the most important name in pop music. These days, Cee-Lo is watching people driving ’round town with the girl he loves, while Danger Mouse is off busy producing 755 different albums at the same time. With their powers combined, however, they were game-changers with the release of their debut album in 2006 – as well as this, one of my all-time favourite videos.

So, there’s the idea of rewriting history, but it’s another thing entirely to actually give it a red hot go. Here, GB decided to turn Gnarls Barkley into a character, a myth, an icon, a person in pop music’s history who was responsible for major movements and changes. As one of the “experts” on Gnarls Barkley proclaims, “he is a phenomenon beyond phenomena.”

It’s utterly fascinating, and the editing of old footage just lures you in even more. The one thing that simply cannot be argued about this video is just how incredibly clever the whole thing is. It would have taken forever to properly compile and remix this footage, and it’s an absolute triumph of music videos. No-one’s ever quite attempted something like this, and there’s a good chance no-one ever may again. It’s just perfection. I’ll never get tired of watching this video.


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