Gnarls Barkley is a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist, DJ and producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) from New York, and rapper/vocalist Cee Lo Green (Thomas Callaway), from Atlanta. The two men first met in 2003 when Cee Lo was on a tour for which Danger Mouse happened to be the DJ. They began working together on the songs that would become their first album. Prior to the release of that album they collaborated on the songs "What You Sittin' On?" for Lex Records in 2004, and "Benzie Box" from the Danger Doom album, The Mouse and the Mask in 2005.
Their debut album, St. Elsewhere, was released in 2006 and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The album's first single, "Crazy," spent seven consecutive weeks in the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, but never reached No. 1. The song also peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. The album received platinum certification from the RIAA and Crazy won a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
The duo released their second album, The Odd Couple, in 2008. It peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200. Despite "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)" being the lead single at the time, "Going On" was the highest charting album track debuting at No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. "The Odd Couple" was nominated for four Grammy Awards including Best Alternative Music Album.
On stage the duo and their backing band typically wear elaborate and matching costumes based around themes like airline workers and Star Wars characters.