Not only do robots build our cars and vacuum our floors, they also make for excellent symbolic representatives for the various social and technological quandaries of our time. Thanks robots.
Dan Mangan – “Robots”: Dan Mangan is a self-made, JUNO-award winning, folk-rocker who regularly contributes to highly respected publications like Huffington Post. Today though, what really matters is that Mangan is a guy who writes whisky-soaked, folk rock anthems about Robot love.
The Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt.1”: Lately The Flaming Lips have been in the news for all the wrong reasons: cultural appropriation, slimy music video direction, and bizarre Miley Cyrus collabs to name a few. If only Wayne Coyne and friends could stick to doing what they do best, writing songs about karate-proficient Japanese bodyguards and jamming out in giant man-sized bubbles.
Tokyo Police Club – “Citizens of Tomorrow”: Back in 2006, Tokyo Police Club sent a grave warning to the people of the future (2009 to be specific) with their single “Citizens of Tomorrow”. In the song, Dave Monks foretold of a nightmarish future where “Computers rule the planet, and the moon and mars as well.” As it turned out, 2009 went off without much of a hitch: “Boom Boom Pow” by The Black Eyed Peas was the year’s number one single, spending 12 weeks atop the Billboard 100 chart and Adam Sandler won a People’s Choice Award for “Funniest Male”… Okay, I take back what I said about 2009 not being a dystopia.
Kraftwerk – “The Robots”: If any band is secretly comprised of robots posing as humans it’s Kraftwerk. Well, Kraftwerk or Milli Vanilli, but let’s just say Kraftwerk for now. With their proto-Daft Punk robot vocals, stilted mechanical movements, and lack of any visible emotion (though that might just be a German thing), it’s clear that this enigmatic quartet were cybernetically engineered to (kraut)rock.
Styx – “Mr. Roboto”: Prog music doesn’t have to be overblown, nerdy, and embarrassing, it just usually is. Somehow though, Styx found a way to take all those negatives and turn them into one the most endearing and memorable tracks of the 80s. You might not “get it,” you probably don’t think it’s “art,” but if it comes on at karaoke, chances are you’ll be singing along.
Flight of the Conchords – “The Humans Are Dead”: Kind of a no-brainer right? Featuring a killer binary solo and some nifty vocal work courtesy of everyone’s favorite New Zealanders by default, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, The Humans Are Dead is a triumph of Robo-centric pop.
The Futureheads – “Robot”: The term “Neo post punk” might sound redundant, but I like to think it would be embraced by our future robot masters. Certainly its sounds would be. Inspired by the tightly coiled, emotionless post-punk of bands like Gang of Four and Wire, The Futureheads are a perfect match for the song’s subject matter: humans and automatons really aren’t that different when you get down to it.
Marina and the Diamonds – “I am not a robot”: Is this video supposed to be humorous or portentous? Is Marina Lambrini Diamandis getting too close for comfort with her space-themed blackface? Would any robot ever approve of such a strong display of emotion in a song about robots? This video had me asking all sorts of questions (none of which were “where can I buy Marina and the Diamonds newest CD?”)
And as an extra bonus…
Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap – “Lonely C”: There’s nothing about robots in the lyrics (or at least not that can I tell), but tell me that doesn’t sound like the saddest robot ever singing the verses? Also, what a video! I’ll take a clip about Kimchi farmers in Korea over a bikini-clad Beyoncé writhing on a beach any day (interpret that as you will).
HM: Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”, Black Sabbath – “Iron Man”, Rush – “The Body Electric”, Alan Parsons Project – “I Robot”, Grandaddy – “Jed the Humanoid”