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"El Mañana" (Spanish for "The Future") is a song from the virtual bandGorillaz. It was released on 10 April 2006 in the UK as a double A-side as the fourth and final singles from their album Demon Days. "El Mañana" along with its other A-side "Kids with Guns" reached number 27 upon its release in the UK, a significantly lower position than its predecessors.
"El Mañana" was a full-budget video from Passion Pictures, directed by Jamie Hewlett and Pete Candeland. According to Gorillaz.com, the video was to be released 11 March 2006. The video is a continuation of the "Feel Good Inc." video. Noodle is floating along peacefully in the sunshine on her floating island. Suddenly two helicopters (resembling the RAH-66 Comanche) catch up to the island and begin to fire upon Noodle with machine guns. As Noodle flees into the windmill, the helicopters smash into the sails and destroy them. When Noodle comes out of the windmill, the windmill is now in flames from the onslaught of the attacking helicopters, and the ground, once lush, green and full of life, was now barren and empty. The helicopter pilots see her and start to attack again, and she is forced back inside the windmill. The stricken island then starts to lose altitude and falls down into a canyon. Then one of the two helicopters drops a bomb and they fly off. Though it may appear that Noodle is seen parachuting to safety during the crash sequence at 3:27 of the video, the parachute-like object is actually a shrub that is torn from the ground to the left of the windmill as it falls towards the earth, as seen at 3:21.
For a few weeks before the video release, a series of events had been taking place. First, at Kong Studios on the Gorillaz website, boxes and other packing materials were seen in the lobby on 16 February 2006. A few weeks later, they were moved into Noodle's room. Subsequently, Noodle apparently began to pack the contents of her room into those boxes, and the windmill from the "Feel Good Inc." video was seen tethered to the balcony. After 7 March, as an intro before entering Kong Studios, a movie would play depicting the windmill flying away. At Gorillaz website, Noodle's room is largely barren, although the links associated with her belongings are still accessible and Shaun Ryder's head, introduced in the music video for "DARE", is still hooked up behind the partition. As of 13 March, her room started to crack around the corners on the walls. Additionally, the "Armageddon clock" on the wall had appeared to have slowed down and had an additional fourth hand. The clock has fallen off the wall and a part of the ceiling has collapsed, revealing a corridor from both Noodle's room and the Map. It was theorized that the events of the video are not merely staged because the helicopters change in appearance. In "Feel Good Inc." they are lighter, and seem to more closely resemble Bell 47Gs. In "El Mañana", they appear heavier and more armoured, seemingly modeled more like the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. This would seem to indicate that Noodle was pursued in the "Feel Good Inc." video, stayed at Kong Studios, packed up, departed, and was then pursued by two different helicopters in the "El Mañana" video. According to the fictional history of the band, Noodle found that she was in fact a test subject in a secret government super soldier project. The limited edition of Demon Days includes a DVD full of bonus features, including the "Feel Good Inc." video with audio commentary by the band members (Gorillaz), confirming that "Feel Good Inc." was indeed staged.
Since the video was released, an interview with Damon Albarn by MTV confirmed that Noodle had been "killed off", though he added that she "may return". An official mailout was sent out that featured Noodle congratulating Jamie Hewlett for winning the Designer of the Year Award 2006. There had also been an interview with the Gorillaz on the Australian video music show Video Hits. Shortly after the video was released, Gorillaz also performed on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, with Noodle present. Another recent mailout had reported that she was "missing". Seven months after the video was released, the truth was revealed in the Gorillaz autobiography Rise of the Ogre. In it, Murdoc finally revealed that the "El Mañana" video was indeed "staged" and that Noodle is still "alive". It turns out that the entire "El Mañana" conspiracy was calculated specifically to get rid of an enemy of the band: Little Jimmy Manson, a psychotic hippie turned industry executive who was set on sabotaging Gorillaz. Jimmy auditioned for Gorillaz a few years back, but was turned down after Noodle got the job. He held a grudge with Gorillaz ever since. Murdoc saw Jimmy's plan and decided to get rid of Jimmy before it was too late. Murdoc told Jimmy that he had a plan to "help him" to kill off one of the band members so that firstly, Gorillaz would end with a bang and secondly, Jimmy could start a new band with Murdoc. Noodle was to do the "El Mañana" video with Manson stowed away on the island and then, while the windmill was crashing around them, Jimmy would shoot the guitarist whilst taking the parachute for himself. However, Murdoc turned the tables on Jimmy by not only "forgetting" to leave the weapon aboard the island but by also locking him in the windmill; Jimmy supposedly died within the crash while Noodle parachuted to safety. His statement followed.
Murdoc stated that Noodle had been planning to leave after Demon Days. This could mean she wanted to leave the band, but she could have meant Plastic Beach. Murdoc, in order to run with his plan to off Jimmy, made a deal with Noodle: she could disappear for some R&R with no fuss if she did the video. As stated in Rise of the Ogre, Noodle is in the Maldives "chilling out". On 21 January 2010, Murdoc had hijacked the NME Radio and Yahoo! Radio where he played a set of songs and further unveiled the premise of recording the new album, Plastic Beach, where it was revealed that Noodle's survival had been naturally retconned in that while the parachuting was confirmed, the band never saw her again after the recording of "El Mañana" and Murdoc's supposed rescue attempt was but a drunken delusion. As such Noodle became replaced by a cyborg replica built by Murdoc using her DNA found at the windmill wreckage and parts from Russell's drum machine in order to provide guitar for the new album. Murdoc had also revealed that the helicopters that shot the windmill down were pirates and mercenaries that Murdoc had been selling bad weapons to in Mexico and that he was still on the run from them. In the music video for "On Melancholy Hill" it is shown that Noodle is alive.
Later, in the music video for their 2012 single "DoYaThing", Noodle's seen safely sleeping in bed and the remains of the island is anchored to the side of the house with Russel, relaxing on the roof.