This call out to overpopulation was inspired in part by the Australian hostage crisis, which unfolded in December 2014. A lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held ten customers and eight employees of a Lindt chocolate café captive in Sydney's Martin Place. The siege, which lasted for 17 hours, resulted in the death of Monis and two hostages.
Blur vocalist Damon Albarn told NME: "Probably the initial idea came from being in a very claustrophobic city, but I actually finished the lyric after having come back from Australia."
"I was there the day they had been hostage situation in a chocolate shop, which was an extraordinary thing to witness," he continued. "I was staying in a hotel while I could literally see what was going on outside and watch it on TV. I've never been in that position before, and as a songwriter was a very interesting standpoint to to be seen something on TV and then out the window it's happening. Seeing the reality of what was happening and how it was being distorted through the prism of [the camera] was kind of fascinating."
The song's subject matter of overpopulation gives us an excuse to share some population fun facts:
There were an estimated 8 million humans on earth in 8000BC.
The world population is estimated to have reached one billion in 1804.
Between 1960 and 2010, the world population rose from 3 billion to 6.8 billion. In other words, there has been more growth in population in the last fifty years than the previous two million years that humans have existed.
The United Nations declared October 31, 2011 to be 'The Day of Seven Billion' when the world population officially reached that figure.
Every minute the world's population increases by 146, with 249 births set against 103 deaths.
More than one in three people are Chinese or Indian.
The total number of people who have ever lived has been estimated by the Population Bureau to be around 108 billion.
The Magic Whip was recorded in Hong Kong, and the spectre of the densely populated city is never far away in this song. "There are a million ways you can interpret that lyric," guitarist Graham Coxon told NME, "but in Hong Kong and sometimes look out the window and think, 'Yeah, there are too many of us.' I started to get quite anxious about that, and the fact that we can't really go on in this way."
"I like how the song gets more and more intense as it goes on," he added. "I wasn't really using the guitar on that one – I thought the synthesizers would do a better job... I was using a lot of these big, fat death ray laser sounds."