In 2006, an early version of the song's instrumentals were performed during an interview about Tony Allen with The Good, the Bad & the Queen, which means that "On Melancholy Hill" was either originally for The Good, the Bad & the Queen or was recycled from a B-side that was produced between Gorillaz' Phase 2 and 3.
The song was originally slated for release in late 2010. In a later interview with creators Damon Albarn & Jamie Hewlett, it was suggested that it would replace track six, "Superfast Jellyfish" as the second single, with "Superfast Jellyfish" being released later in 2010.
Band member Murdoc Niccals stated the following about "On Melancholy Hill" in a track-by-track commentary:
"The melancholy hill - it's that feeling, that place, that you get in your soul sometimes, like someone's let your tires down. It's nice to break up the album with something a little lighter. It's good to have something that's a genuine pop moment on every album. And this is one of those."
- Main Article: On Melancholy Hill (Video)
A huge ocean liner (the M. Harriet), is under attack by two planes. A ship attendant finds Noodle in her room, offering to escort her to the lifeboats, but she opens a gun briefcase and walks down the hall past the attendant with a Thompson submachine gun. The song begins with Noodle opening fire at the two oncoming planes that are attacking the ship. She manages to shoot one plane down but does not have enough time to shoot the other. The other plane drops a bomb on the ship. As the ship sinks, Noodle survives and climbs into a lifeboat with only her guitar and some supplies.
Later on, a gigantic version of drummer Russel Hobbs lifts out of the water underneath Noodle's lifeboat. Some believe that Russel's massive size is due to pollution causing radioactivity on the long swim he had when going to Plastic Beach. The rest of the video shows Murdoc, 2-D, and Cyborg Noodle traveling through the deep ocean with a fleet of submarines, crewed by all of the collaborators that helped make the album (e.g. De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, and Gruff Rhys). They rise to the surface, where a large manatee is sitting atop a tall plateau. Murdoc spots the Boogieman leaning over the creature and orders Cyborg Noodle to attack it. Cyborg Noodle shoots at the Boogieman but the bullets do him no harm. He grabs the manatee and dives into the ocean, sinking with it. When the fog clears, Plastic Beach can be seen.
The music video is a continuation of "Stylo" video, as they are in the same shark submarine and 2-D is still wearing his clown mask, as well as the bullet hole still present in Cyborg Noodle's head, though Murdoc is seen wearing a different shirt and a hat.
- CD promo:
- On Melancholy Hill (Radio Edit) - 2:58
- On Melancholy Hill (Album Version) - 3:53
- On Melancholy Hill (Instrumental) - 3:53
- Promotional CD single - Remixes:
- On Melancholy Hill (Josh Wink Remix) – 9:45
- On Melancholy Hill (Josh Wink Dub) – 9:45
- On Melancholy Hill (The Japanese Popstars Remix) (edit) – 7:36
- On Melancholy Hill (She Is Danger Remix) – 4:19
- On Melancholy Hill (We Have Band Remix) – 5:14
- Despite the Plastic Beach music videos being in chronological order in terms of events, the "On Melancholy Hill" video has been considered by a majority of fans as the sequel/spiritual successor of the "El Mañana" video (much like how "El Mañana" was the sequel to "Feel Good Inc.").
- theZFE. "The Good, The Bad and The Queen - Tony Allen (unnamed documentary)". YouTube.com. YouTube. Retrieved 8 September 2006.
- "Plastic Beach [Japanese experience edition]", TOCP-66950, booklet p.19