Artist of the Week: Gnarls Barkley


(All photos, credit: Cody Smyth)

Gnarls Barkley say they're from Atlanta. But we wouldn't be surprised if the real story involved a flying saucer -- like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind -- landing somewhere in the Greater Atlanta area. Or maybe it was St. Elsewhere. Only instead of those creepy tones spilling forth from the mothership, the spooked-out sound of Cee-Lo Green's freaky-deaky, omnipresent Buddha laugh rang out over silent partner Danger Mouse's brilliantly produced hypnotic beats, blips and samples. Together both sounds lifted us off our feet and haunted us like an out-of-body experience -- at least that's how it felt the first time we heard "Crazy," which hooked us like crack.

That was back in early 2006, and two albums later -- their platinum-selling debut, St. Elsewhere, and their March 2008 follow-up, The Odd Couple -- we're still captivated by Gnarls Barkley's prevailing profundity. Strip away the foreboding vocals, ominous strings, and head-on psychedelics, and Gnarls Barkley's lyrics read like the transcript to a modern-day tent revival, cautioning against metaphysical and existential perils and pitfalls.

We're drawn to their otherworldly allure, and their spirit of reinvention. And, of course, the costumes. And while we're partial to the old-school Pan Am look, as Artist of the Week, you'll get Gnarls Barkley dressed as orderlies-slash-Good Humor men watching over a flock of furries. Just go with it. We did. But then again, maybe we're crazy.

Watch their pysch ward version of "Run" below, and check out all of Gnarls Barkley's MTV Artist of the Week videos here. Plus, watch their latest video, "Run," (more videos here), their live performance of Prince's "Darling Nikki" with the Foo Fighters from the 2007 VMAs, check out exclusive photos from their MTV Artist of the Week shoot, and catch Gnarls Barkley all week on MTV.