Gnarls Barkley is the ‘noms-de-chanteur’ of rapper and Goodie Mob band member Cee Lo Green, aka Cee Lo and Brian Burton, known by his stage name of Danger Mouse. Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere and The Odd Couple is cerebral hip-hop and neo-funk. For fans of Cee-Lo’s ‘F You’ (sic) single, I’m sorry, but Cee Lo’s collaboration with Danger Mouse in Gnarls Barkley takes it down a notch. Or up a notch depending upon where you stand with regard to songs with banned words as titles. And yes, F You! is the ad reductio ad absurdum (but more polite) version of Cee Lo’s song. F You!, also called The Ladykiller, is Cee Lo’s own animal, released in September.
Gnarls Barkley has connections to rap/jazz/soul/funk/blues greats like Lauryn Hill, 50 Cent, Bruno Mars and Carlos Santana. The Gnarls Barkley name morphed from Prince Gnarls (Prince Charles) and Bob Gnarly (spoof on Bob Marley). Presumably the Gnarls Barkley harks back to 60s surf speak’s of the term ‘gnarly’ to mean ‘balls out danger or perfection’; akin to ‘radical’ (Thank you, Urban Dictionary). The term had pseudo-regenesis in Valley Girl speak, with the 1983 Frank and Moon Unit Zappa song Valley Girl. eak in the early 1980s.
Cee Lo and Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley put out their first album in 2006. St. Elsewhere, with hit single Crazy, was followed, slowly, by the second album The Odd Couple with singles ‘Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)”. The Odd Couple has never enjoyed the success of St. Elsewhere. The 2006 Crazy made it to number 2 in the US charts for 2006 and #1 on the UK charts. Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy won the 2006 MTV European Music Award, 2007 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Song and Best Alternative Album (St. Elsewhere) and BET Best Group 2007. Rolling Stone Magazine lists ‘Crazy’ as #1 best song for the first decade of the new millenium (Which by the way is a difficult decade to label- the zeros, 00s? I’ve heard the suggestion: ‘noughties’. Probably the best we’ll find).
What’s is store for Gnarls Barkley? Cee Lo is busy with his solo career and Danger Mouse keeps pretty active, too. Will we hear more from Gnarls Barkley? Time will out.