Gorillaz makes a stop in Houston tonight (Toyota Center, 7:30 p.m.) on their "Escape to Plastic Beach" world tour. Damon Albarn's "virtual band" is by now far better-known on this side of the pond than his original group, Blur, and is as famous for its inventive music videos as for the songs themselves.
But while Gorillaz may be the first animated band to sell tens of millions of records, they're hardly the first of their kind. Albarn owes a debt to a number of cartoon musical groups that came before, a few of which Rocks Off is happy to remind you of.
15. Josie and the Pussycats
"Long tails/ Ears for hats." With lyrics likes that, the skunk-striped Alexandra, and that Phil Spector looking guy with the ascot, we can't believe this show didn't last a hundred years.
14. Dethklok: Rocks Off questions the authenticity of any metal band, animated or not, where one of the members hasn't gone on trial for murdering someone.
13. The Way-Outs
Remember that episode of The Flintstones where something happened and Fred misinterpreted it and hijinx ensued? Yeah, we don't either.
12. Lynn Minmay
The reason it took us so long to finish the Robotech series wasn't because there were, like, 300 VHS tapes to slog through. No, it's because we had to take a week off after every Lynn Minmay performance to allow the murderous rage to subside.
Step 1: Record a bunch of popular songs with the vocals sped up to make it sound like rodents are singing. Step 2: ?!? Step 3: Profit!
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids
A group of teen crime-fighters that also happened to be in a band, reporting to a computer called "Mr. Socrates" that was somehow allergic to dogs. Welcome to 1973.
9. The Archies
We're pretty sure "Let's Draw Betty and Veronica With Their Clothes Off" is just an item from an old Letterman Top 10 list (yep), but it should really be an actual community college course. We'd take it.
8. The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
Nowadays everybody aspires to athletic greatness or YouTube stardom. Back in our day, everyone wanted to be in a band with their nine brothers and sisters.
That guy is either playing the tiniest drumkit in existence, or he's 11 feet tall.
See: The Archies.
6. The Groovie Goolies
Don't let those Twilight books lie to you, children: Gay vampires and surf-punk werewolves not only used to coexist peacefully, they used to jam.
5. The Jackson 5ive
Rankin Bass deserves mentions for creating some of the laziest animation of all time. This makes the Groovie Goolies look like Miyazaki.
4. The Rock-A-Fire Explosion
Animated...animatronic, whatever. It isn't like any of you have been inside a Showbiz Pizza Place in 20 years anyway.
You see kids, back in the 1970s, people were really into sharks. Jaws had just become the biggest movie ever, and to capitalize on this, Hanna-Barbera threw together a cartoon about a shark that talked like Curly from the Three Stooges and played drums. Cocaine may also have been involved.
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We know, the Teen Angels weren't actually a band. We're including them anyway because it became painfully obvious to us while we were, uh, researching this piece that they only tolerated "Cavey" because of the size of his prodigious Neanderthal...club.
1. Chattanooga Cats
A much more popular offering than the previously released Deliverance Cats, which was nothing but 22 minutes of cartoon sodomy.