Maybe it takes a band based on virtual characters to remind us of the important, precious nature of our humanity — because that’s exactly what the Gorillaz new song “Hallelujah Money” does. On the eve of America’s inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, a candidate who has stirred a remarkable amount of protest to say the least, Gorillaz’ new video interrogates the relationship between power, corruption and compassion in the wake of this undeniably historical moment.
Co-founders Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have been working on a return to the world stage with the band, and a new Gorillaz album is on the horizon, but today’s release “Hallelujah Money,” which features Benjamin Clementine, is a timely precursor to that record, which comes later in the year. It’s a musical statement to capture a moment in time, to question the impact of Trump’s inauguration and to mourn the prioritization of power and greed in our current world. Still, it’s the first new music from the band in six years, since the release of their 2011 record The Fall.
Protests against Trump have risen out of his clear business conflicts which he refuses to set aside during the term of his presidency, lewd, sexist behavior and comments toward women, immigration policies that are marked by stereotypical and xenophobic language, and tacit acceptance of the support of white supremacist factions within the US.
If there was ever a time for a call to interrogate the prevalence of prejudice and corruption, it is now, and the new Gorillaz track uses vivid apocalyptic and allegoric imagery to comment on the situation — and goes further with chilling, twisted lyrics such as “love is the root of all evil.” It is both a commentary on America and the rest of the world.
Continuing their tradition of collaborating with other artists, “Hallelujah Money” features the incredibly rich vocals of Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine, an English composer, poet, and multi-instrumentalist who is truly the star of the ‘Hallelujah Money’ video as well. He is a force in his own right, and was honored in 2016 by The New York Times as one of twenty-eight geniuses who defined culture last year. Clementine plays with vibrato in a powerful way in his vocals on the track, conveying a measure of gravity and emotion that this moment requires.
In the clip, Clementine stands in the gold-plated elevator of Trump Tower, delivering his pronouncement of disappointment in front of a flickering screen that flashes through other landmark moments. The images behind him cut from native dancers in Africa, to the La Candelaria brotherhood in Spain, drawing throughlines from various cultures and tribes, until an appearance from the familiar silhouette of 2D crops up at the end. Clementine delivers each line with precision and grace, conveying the severity of his words even as the final scenes dissolve into an explosion of silly cartoon footage. How else could a Gorillaz music video this serious conclude, except with a little levity?
It’s a bold return from a band whose reemergence has been long-awaited, and you can watch the video above exclusively through Uproxx, as we have partnered with the band to highlight their perspective on this political moment. It was directed by Giorgio Testi and the Gorillaz, and
edited by Sebastian Monk. Watch above and look for more from Gorillaz in the coming months.