Music Special! 20 songs and bands about robots!

Robots.

They are one of the many reason why I could kick terribly bored teenage me in the behind because if I had paid a bit more attention I might now be able to create them myself. But no, I had to draw crude caricatures of my fellow classmates and the teachers and write letters that still make me recoil in embarrassment.

Still, I love robots, with or without the possibility to build them for world domination. I love that Japan is as far into robot technology as creating little kids that not at all remind us of „Screamers“ (did I say not at all? I meant very much at all). And this week was robotics week in America (they always keep the great weeks to themselves) so I thought that a list of robot themed songs and bands would be appropriate because if you google that, you will have approx. 10 lists that all list the same songs. It’s a little bit sad, really. That’s also why I left out some of the obvious choices, sorry. Ok, I kinda cheat because I included a lot of bandnames with robot themes but we’re not here to split hairs, we’re here to split whatever robots would have as hairs (according to at least one of those songs, they would have human hair, though…gross).

It will be incredibly random, the commentary quite possibly will have nothing to do with the band or the song most of the time and if this list will be split up (because it’s very long already) it will finish in 2013 because apparently that is the amount of time for me to finish something that I started in a fit of childish glee.

1. Clutch – 10001110101

HA, there you go, just discovered and already they help me out with a genious song title and a perfect song for this list. I love the combination of Metal and Blues and I really don’t understand why Hip Hop and Metal got a lot more attention because that clearly was a bad idea.

2. Dan Mangan – Robots

This is the definition of “sweet”. At the City Slang Christmas party we all sang the chorus. I usually don’t clap and sing along because my social anxiety forbids me to let lose but I did this time and it only felt a little awkward. It was a lovely moment and will be one of my concert memories that stay with me.

3. The Futureheads – Robot

This album – loved it. I listened to it all the time and it was quite possibly the first odd Cars alike music I listened to and enjoyed before I realized that the Cars actually existed and had done this about 20 years earlier. I still love them though and this song is the bomb. The Futureheads are also one of the very very very few artists who covered Kate Bush and didn’t fail miserably.

4. Dance Gavin Dance – The robot with human hair

Songs like this remind me fondly of my 2010 Screamo/Hardcore phase in which I discovered, that Hardcore kids are very sensitive and loyal and that Rostock has some of the most stylish Hardcore kids I’ve ever seen and also some pretty sick bands that unfortunately are just way too lazy to actually book shows or promote something…fickle youth.

Off to the main topic: robots!

Argh, robots with human hair, Uncanny Valley alarm! I quite possibly have talked about this before because it’s incredibly interesting, the Uncanny Valley effect happens, when a robot looks very human but not human enough. They did a study because people emphathize with robots like Wall-E who looks nothing like people. The more a robot looked like a human being, the more people emphasized. But then – somewhere between Wall-E and Mitt Romney (haha, political satire, classic Jule!) there was an extreme drop in empathy. As soon as the robot looked exactly like a human, the empathy was back on track, hence the name. It’s very mysterious but oh so fascinating.

5. Lousy Robot – Andy Warhol is gone

Man, I hate lousy robots. They invite themselves to your house and eat your food batteries and they sit on the couch and have the feet on the table but they are still wearing their dirty working boots. And they never do the dishes and they invite people to your place that you don’t know. Stupid lousy robots…that was my battery yogurt!

6. Jimmy Eat World – Robot Factory

I heard that the robots have to work there with minimum wage and no (t)oilet breaks (get it? because of oil that robots quite possibly need? They don’t? I have no idea because I am a girl).

7. The Network – Joe Robot

Gotta love weird New Wave Punk stuff from the 80s. They all sound the same but who cares, they all sound great. Speaking of sounding the same: apparently this is some sort of Green Day side project (back in the days). I will not trash talk Green Day from back in the days, loved the typical singles and “Nimrod” was my first proper rock album (I must have been 12 or 13 and I don’t count the ones that my mom forced on me) and got me through many a dark, confused day. I still have the shirt and wear it with pride. The CD doesn’t work anymore, though, because as a stupid teenager I was not as anal about keeping them safe than I am now.

8. Ima Robot – Lovers in Captivity

This is a really cool song which I just discovered. This is what you could call Bowie-esque. But this guy is pretty great because he is crazy diverse. One of those artistic types that are probably difficult but so necessary to keep music slightly off putting (in a good way, you know what I mean, you Velvet Underground loving rebels, you) Other songs by Ima Robot sound like a nervous breakdown. And no, obviously I never had a nervous breakdown, I just like to sit home alone and imagine how it would feel like, while I count my cats.

9. Ghost of the Robot – Vehicles Shock me

I am always astounded how okay it is to listen to this kind of music. It never really annoys me even if it hardly gets really weird or innovative. It is like an existential full stop – it just is.

Maybe because I grew up in the 90s and this is the background noise of pretty much everything cool that happened during the 90s? Just as everything uncool happened to Boygroups and Eurotrash and that’s a fact and all the 90 kids know it (they wore plastic pants, ‘nough said!).

10. Dark Captain Light Captain – Robot Command Centre

I love spotify. I looked through a couple of robot song lists on the internet and found the same 15 songs repeated all over how could anyone know what gems are out there? Oh, and the album cover to this one is absolutely gorgeous and trippy: it’s a bird that drops logs onto a burning city with people on every house that hold their arms up in the air.

11. Alessi’s Ark – The Robot

Alessi is incredible, she seems awkward but she totally isn’t, she’s charming and owns the room however big it is. I had an interview with her and we talked for about 30-40 minutes. I got to ask about 3 questions because she would start with the answer and end somewhere completely different. And that is awesome because I got to know a lot of cool things about her and her music that I wouldn’t have if I had just relied on my questions. She is a real trooper. Keep an ear and eye out for her.

To the song:

I am thinking of a robot with a straw hat here and sunglasses, yeah, sunglasses are a must for this robot.

12. deus – Is a Robot

A small anecdote from the Immergut Festival last year: The Immergut is full of many great and new bands but a lot of them are young electro outfits or young indiepop bands or young Hamburger Schule bands. So when deus entered the stage, my friend and colleague looked at me and said: “finally, some real men”. Oh yes, we are like a family friendly sitcom, enter laughing track.

13. Flight of the Conchords – Humans are dead

I know, I know it is one of the obvious songs but it’s so good. And just in case you wondered and I know you did: I am Team Jermaine.

14. Robots in disguise – Wake up

This is actually what I would call Hipster music. In fact, everything that I think Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh might enjoy is what I call Hipster music. But you know what? If it’s good Hipster music, they can wear all the weird triangular make up and silvery pantsuits they like.

15. Acid Baby Jesus – Android Robot

Another song that only made the list for the name. No, I am joking, this dirty garage number is pretty good, it’s an art to get away with vocals that sound so incredibly bored that they just as well might have been omitted. Apparently they are from Greek which makes them the first Greek band mentioned on this blog.

16. Marina and the Diamonds – I am not a robot

This shouldn’t make the list because she clearly says that she isn’t a robot but what if that is just a trick to make us believe she isn’t a robot when in truth she is one? Consider your mind blown. And yes, you are allowed to make a Ted meme out of it.

Also – I am very much in love with the alternate video. Ok, so the arm-thingy looks like she got all the paper towels from a public toilet and stuck them on her arm but her dancing is lovely and she is lovely so she should be allowed to leave people standing in public toilets with their hands all wet.

17. Coldhearted Son – The Lost Robot

Awesome. This is simply awesome.

18. Guided by Voices – Gold Star for Robot Boy

Guided by Voices should be as big as REM, something is off with the Universe. I’ve chosen the horrible live version with the sound problems because for some reason I always think that 90s alternative should have some sort of sound problems to sound authentic. Don’t ask me, that’s how I remember it.

19. Connie Francis – Robot Man

Oh dear, that’s pretty dirty for a song that old. Then again, I’ve listened to quite a few 50s and 60s songs lately and they have some rowdy lyrics that would make Lady Gaga blush. I would have said Madonna but she is a robot and therefore can’t blush.

20. Dresden Dolls – coin operated boy

How could I forget. The Dresden Dolls are a great band because they are so incredibly theatrical and they are awesome live. But please don’t play them when people want to dance, I tried several times on several songs and it just doesn’t work because it’s a lot of awkward swaying during the slow parts.

There is actually a very dirty erotic comic with a robot, so maybe one or the other inspired the other (wait, what?).

I tell you what, I had more songs but I thought to myself: Juliane, if you select more songs, will you actually finish this ever? And I knew the answer. So these are my top 20 robot songs but wait, one more is needed because even if this is the lamest answer ever to the great big robot-song list, I love it so much and therefore it has to be on here:

Styx – Mr Roboto

My life-long dream is to one day do this song justice at a karaoke bar and be very theatrical about it. However, to pull it off, I will have to be in that magical drunk state where you lose your inhibitions but also are still clear-headed enough to sing in a way that is not horrible. It’s the state that monks all over the world and from all religions try to achieve when they meditate but obviously, they can’t admit that they just had a bottle of moonshine before they sat down on the porch to be silent for the next three hours/days/weeks.

8 thoughts on “Music Special! 20 songs and bands about robots!

  1. I also didn’t pay enough attention in school,and so never built a robot. Had to settle for writing about them. (If you want to know, but don’t care to read the whole shebang: Human-looking hair, but not actual human.)

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      1. well, I AM intrigued. Somehow I have robot hair in mind that can style itself and I don’t know whether that is from some cartoon or whether I just made that up.

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      2. Hm… I don’t think I ever heard of that idea, so at least we can assume that I wasn’t the one who made it up.
        My robots didn’t care about their hair a lot.

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      3. Since I don’t want to spoil anything for the millions of readers flowing back and forth between our blogs, let’s just say they were kind of on a mission.

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      4. wise choice, we’ll discuss it further as soon as the movie adaptions for it go on DVD after that all spoilers are fair game.

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