According to Gnarls Barkley member Cee-Lo Green the song is about insisting upon doing things his way, and the thin line between being crazy and being convinced that you’re right. You can be crazy and lose your mind; even the video is made in a psychiatric evaluation style called Rorschach test where the patients are asked what they see in various inkblot patterns. Cee-Lo Green explained the inspiration for the song at a BMI conference, he said: “It was ’04, I was going through a divorce, I did not have a deal – things were bleak at the time and I was going through a personal trial. But it was an opportunity to be expressive. Danger Mouse’s production compelled me into a deep retrospection, and I really appreciate him for that because with him, I knew that my misery had some company, because his music was so miserably brilliant and beautiful to me. It was the sound of my soul. If you could have taken a picture of it, it would have resembled this internal chaos.” In an interview with The New York Times, Danger Mouse talked about the story of the song, he said: “I brought in a song that I felt was a complete Ennio Morricone ripoff, but Cee-Lo and I started talking, and I somehow got off on this tangent about how people won’t take an artist seriously unless they’re insane. We were saying that if we really wanted this album to work, the best move would be to just kill ourselves. That’s how audiences think; it’s retarded. So we started jokingly discussing ways in which we could make people think we were crazy. We talked about this for hours, and then I went home. But while I was away, Cee-Lo took that conversation and made it into ‘Crazy’ which we recorded in one take. That’s the whole story. The lyrics are his interpretation of that conversation.” In another interview with the Observer Music Monthly, the duo had more to say about how the song came about, Danger Mouse said: “I did the initial backing track when I was in Iceland on holiday a couple of years ago. We put it on in the morning and by the time we left the studio that evening we had the whole song done.” Cee-Lo Green then added: “I thought ‘Crazy’ might be the song that Danger Mouse would write if he wrote songs. He played the instrumental track for me and I was just, ‘Wow!’ We put the track on repeat while we talked for 2 hours about sanity and its place in pop culture and the creative process, how it’s associated with true artistry.”
The duo called the band Gnarls Barkley after NBA Hall of famer Charles Barkley, the name came up in a conversation between member Danger Mouse and some of his friends when they were throwing out weird ideas for band names.
Release Date: March 13, 2006
Songwriter/s: Brian Burton – Thomas Callaway – Gian Franco Reverberi – Gina Piero Reverberi.
Label: Downtown (US) – Warner (outside US)
Chart Rankings: In the US, the song peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Adult Top 40 charts. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it Quadruple Platinum for sales over 4 million copies. In the UK, it topped the Official Charts Company. The British phonographic Industry (BPI) certified it double Platinum for sales over 1.2 million copies. ‘Crazy’ topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland. It reached the top 10 charts in several other countries around the world including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany (3), Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The song was certified Double Platinum in Canada and Platinum in Germany. In Australia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland it was certified Gold.
Artist’s age on Release Date: ‘Brian Joseph Burton aka Danger Mouse was 29 years old, Thomas DeCario Callaway aka Cee-Lo Green was 32 years old. The Gnarls Barkley duo were active for 3 years when they released this song.
Cover Versions: Violent Femmes – The Kooks – Nelly Furtado – The Zutons – Ray LaMontagne – Paris Hilton – G4 – Maroon 5 – Ninet Tayeb – The Raconteurs – Billy Idol – The Academy Is.. featuring Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes – Butch Walker – Cat Power – Texas – the Twilight Singers – Mates of State – Paco Estrada & One Love and of Montreal – Trey Lorenz – Shawn Colvin – Cat Power – Jude – David Gilmour – Prince – Pink – Little Ghosts – Natalie Gauci – OneRepublic – Alice Russel – Relient K – The Neighbourhood – Daniela Andrade – Glass Animals – Corey Heuvel – Ray Lamontagne – Sabrina Claudio – Madilyn Bailey & Leroy Sanchez – Teemid featuring Joie Tan – Sol (The Voice France 2016) – and other amateur artists covered this song on Youtube.