The annotations on Genius.com are sparse and often contradicts itself in parts. Here?s my take.
Unlike quite a few music videos these days, Feel Good Inc.?s video and music go hand in hand. One source this music video obviously and generously seems to borrow from is the novel 1984. The song and the video both refer to the sorrow of a musician who is performing at somebody?s command, deprived of all the pleasures of his art. It could be an exaggerated metaphor for the music industry, or it could just be fiction. 2D is that musician in the video. The song starts thus.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, feel goodShake it, shake it, shake it, feel goodShake it, shake it, shake it, feel goodShake it, shake it, shake it, feel good
This is 2D with dead and black eyes, bereaved of any emotion or pleasure, performing for the crowd at Feel Good Incorporated. His music is asking the crowd to feel good, but as is clear from the video, they are on the floor, passed out and clearly devoid of any good feelings. Their sustenance is facilitated by mind numbing amounts of drugs and sex, possibly a distraction provided by the overlords (who?ll reveal themselves later on). And 2D, performing along with Murdoc and Russel tells them to ?feel good?, supposed to falsely convince the citizens of the strange place that they?re having a good time so that they keep buying whatever the overlords are selling; much like how corporations have hijacked simple phrases like I?m loving it and thereby the associated feeling. When the verse starts, we learn more.
City?s breaking down on a camel?s backThey just have to go, ?cause they don?t know wackSo while you fill the streets, it?s appealing to seeYou won?t get undercounted ?cause you?re damned and freeYou got a new horizon, it?s ephemeral styleA melancholy town where we never smileAnd all I wanna hear is the message beepMy dreams, they got her kissing, ?cause I don?t get sleep, no*Beep*
Here 2D is propagating the message of the corporate overlords. He is possibly referring to a disaster or a coup, when a city broke down. The citizens of Inc are those that were saved to be free (without being undercounted), as opposed to those who don?t know wack, who had to go. But the citizens of Inc got a new horizon, a town amongst the clouds where they never smile. And 2D laments about his lack of sleep, because he?s constantly performing, or possibly until the beep which he claims to look forward to.
Beep might be sort of his break, when he gets to go watch a world beyond the Inc windows, possibly a world that used to be. He looks out when Noodle arrives on a piece of earth, propelled by a windmill. Noodle represents the actually free citizens of the world, who aren?t under the asinine charms of the Inc. 2D is distressed, as he briefly remembers a time before the Inc, when he used to be as free and blissful like Noodle ? doing music on his on terms, and for himself. Which brings me to the chorus.
Windmill, windmill for the landTurn forever hand in handTake it all in on your strideIt is ticking, falling downLove forever, love has freelyTurned forever you and meWindmill, windmill for the landIs everybody in?
2D is reminiscing/dreaming about the windmill that?s headed for real land ? the land he belonged to before the Inc took over his autonomy. He sings about the love and freedom that turned forever on the windmill land and invites everyone at the Inc to join in. But it seems he?s painfully aware of its imminent destruction and makes no real effort to get to the windmill. Time is ticking and the windmill is falling down, he says. We see indeed there are choppers chasing the windmill, while Noodle plays her songs unaware of the threat.
Now it?s the time for the leader of the corporation to speak. Much like Big Brother in 1984 novel, he appears on a screen. That is the first direct reference to the book.
Laughin? gas these hazmats, fast catsLinin? ?em up like ass cracksPlay these ponies at the trackIt?s my chocolate attack
This is the Inc leader speaking. He talks with irreverence about the citizens who line up to listen to 2D and the band (Gorillaz) play. The leader calls the band ponies, and reveals that he plays them as his chocolate attack. This is possibly another reference to 1984 novel?s regime, where chocolate was used as a distraction from the totalitarian ways of the government. 2D and the band are used as a distraction by the Inc.
Shit, I?m steppin? in the heart of this here (yeah)Care Bear rappin? in harder this year (yeah)Watch me as I gravitate, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Care Bear was a cartoon about a bunch of anthropomorphic animals who sang cheerful songs. Here, the Inc leader refer to the Gorillaz as Care Bears, sort of ironically because the Inc is anything but cheerful. Watch me as I gravitate seems to be a reference to his power, about how he?s soaring.
Yo, we gon? ghost town this MotownWith yo? sound, you in the blinkGon? bite the dust, can?t fight with usWith yo? sound, you kill the Inc. So don?t stop, get it, get it (Get it)Until you?re cheddar headAnd watch the way I navigate, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha (Ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha)
Motown is a real-life record company or it could refer here to a town that is in shambles. These lines suggest how record companies (depicted by the Inc in this case) trap these musicians who can?t fight against it and then sell their music to unthinking citizens of the world. The leader wants Gorillaz to not stop playing until they are cheddar headed. Throughout the rap verse from the leader, we see that 2D seems to be externally controlled, forced to make music against his will and possibly against his taste. The navigate part is again a power proclamation, announcing how they?re navigating/steering the Inc and its people, much at their will.
Thereafter, once again 2D looks out at the free windmill world inhabited only by Noodle until he is flicked back to reality.
Don?t stop, get it, get it (Sha, sha ba da, sha ba da, Feel Good)We are your captains in itSteady, watch me navigate, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (Sha, sha ba da, sha ba da, Feel Good)
Again, the leaders of the Inc proclaim their power as captains and order the band not to stop playing. It seems they?re winning, and 2D?s already dead eyes lose their last light ? the glimmer of hope, the silver lining ? as the windmill leaves and he?s left behind. The leaders of the Inc on the screen laugh hysterically at the helpless Gorillaz. There is a certain sense of realisation within 2D that he isn?t ever getting away and like Murdoc and Russel might have in the past, he?s giving in. They continue to laugh hysterically.
Things aren?t ending well for Noodle either, with the Inc?s black choppers sent out to capture her (so as to sell her music to the people of the Inc), quickly closing in.
The song is most likely a commentary on a state of affairs in the music industry, but exaggerated. On a more basic level, it?s a dystopian government that sells twisted ?entertainment? to its citizens while throttling any free and independent expression. The Inc tames free entertainers and forces them to play mind numbing music which is sold to seduces people of the world and strip them of their free-will for profits. The windmill is a remaining piece of the world that used to be, the world before large scale corporations, and Noodle, a rebel who do not buy into the narrative.