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A Rock Supergroup Gets Sublimely Mysterious

The Good, The Bad & The Queen features members of Blur, The Clash, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and The Verve.
The Good, The Bad & The Queen features members of Blur, The Clash, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and The Verve.

The pulsing keyboards and far-off whistling that open "Herculean" — a new song from the high-profile supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen — sounds more like the opening soundtrack to a futuristic science-fiction thriller than the innovative pop song that it is.

An ominous track in a musical class of its own, "Herculean" is the product of an eccentric and sublime collection of talent: Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, former Verve guitarist Simon Tong, Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, working with the aid of producer Danger Mouse, most recently of Gnarls Barkley and Gorillaz.

Though much of its membership finds its roots in rock, The Good, The Bad & The Queen instead opts for subtler ambience. The lyric to "Herculean" matches a sound that conjures up images of an oppressive and mysterious world: "And the medicine man here 24/7 / you can get it fast in Armageddon / Everyone on the way to heaven, slowly," Albarn sings, as a frail dub rhythm provides a haunting backdrop. Still, even as he sings in resignation, Albarn elicits a glimmer of hope, adding, "It's bigger than you and the welfare state / and we will keep singing / It's not too late for you."

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.