At this point in our two-part Science Fiction Mix Tape Loves Robots series I have to start getting picky. There are too many robot songs to include on any list of a palatable length. We could fill an entire day of radio shows. Fuck and fuck: why wasn’t this the theme I covered when I did college radio? My shows would have written themselves.
This list is not grouped in any particular order, which means there are favorites mixed in all over. I was worried that I would use up all my favorite robot songs writing the first part of this list. But there are just too many fucking great songs about robots. To check out the first part of Science Fiction Mix Tape Loves Robots, click here. Now let’s listen to some music.
Coin Operated Boy by Dresden Dolls
I love Amanda Palmer. She gets mad SFF cred just for being married to Neil Gaiman, but she makes this list because she wrote a song about wanting to have a coin-operated robot boyfriend.
“Made of plastic and elastic he is rugged and long-lasting who could ever ever ask for more?”
Robot Man by Connie Francis
Robot Man is basically an older version of Coin-Operated Boy. I love this kind of dancy rock n’ roll. More sassy than sexy, but still a lot of fun.
“I want a robot man to hold me tight, one that I can count on every single night. He wouldn’t run around like other guys, I wouldn’t have to listen to his alibis.”
Robot Parade by They Might Be Giants
This song comes from They Might Be Giants kids’ album No! It does a nice job of talking about the future robot invasion without making it scary for children. They Might Be Giants have long been masters of weird, funny, catchy diddies and even though it is technically for kids, adults will probably like it too. Or they could go watch what is ostensibly an “adult” cover version, but is really just louder and more metal right here.
“In the future time children will work together to build a giant cyborg. Robot parade, wave the flags that the robots made. Robots obey what the children say.”
Robot by The Futureheads
More new-wave-ish SF-inal music. Dancey and catchy, but without much of a story.
“I am a robot, living like a robot, talk like a robot.”
“In the future we all die (robot), machines will last forever (robot). Metal things just turn to rust, when you’re a robot”
Stepfather Factory by El-P
We covered Stepfather Factory way back at the beginning of Science Fiction Mix Tape, but it is an essential piece of the robot song big picture. Wonderfully creepy, dystopian short about the stepfather (robot) factory and the families who live with these replacement fathers. Great social commentary wound up in sci fi, like all the best SF lit.
“So you purchased a paternal unit, class A type 1. A new addition to your living room space, watch it go. Have your warranty for at least 90 days, so have fun. If in that time frame there’s a problem, please let us know.
“Before you start there’s a few details that you must learn. Technical specs about your unit to make things run smooth. In an effort to find an energy source our company’s learned the cheapest way to keep his battery running is with booze. Plug it in, give it a name, man of the house, help sustain, wearin’ the pants, you can relax, water the pad, nuclear fam…
“Brings us to the safety chapter Section 87 in your handbook subsection 16 entitled: Troubleshooting. Fuel sources are at a slight risk of mixing With the crispy plutonium center of your automated spouse.”
Paranoid Android by Radiohead
Another classic of the robot song genre—at least according to the lists and the title. But I don’t think so. I listened the shit out of this song back in the day, and I never really felt like it had to be about robots. The lyrics explicitly say “I may be paranoid but I’m no android.” Then again, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep taught us all about androids who don’t know they’re androids. And what about this line “unborn chicken voices in my head”? Something weird and dystopian is going on here for sure, but whether or not this song is about androids? *Shrugs.* You tell me.
Robot Command Center by Dark Captain Light Captain
“If you turn into something like a robot we will all be proud. With your metal arms, your metal arms they make me feel I live my life to fast.”
I haven’t been acquainted with this song for long enough to claim to know what the fuck it’s about, but if I had to guess after listening to roughly half of it, I’d say we’ve got a humans in the modern world as robots metaphor story right here. You be the judge.
Angry Robot by John Anealio
Nope, not publisher Angry Robot’s theme song, but a Jonathan Coultan-ish nerd folk song about an angry robot planning to take down humans.
“Angry robot plotting the overthrow of all mankind. Angry robot thoughts of Armageddon on his mind. Look him in the eye he’s an angry robot.”
Ich bin nicht ein Roboter (I am a lion) by Die Roten Punkte
This song wins for weirdest story for today. Summary: a robot gets fed-exed to the jungle, imprints on a lion, and now thinks that it is one.
“Young silver machine, ready for work, FedEx-ed to the jungle by a lazy clerk. Instead of living in Detroit putting on tires, he put his head out the box, he was surrounded by lions.”
Maenads in the Android Brothel by Old Time Relijun
Just kidding. This song wins for weirdest on the list. First for the sound, then for the concept of a maenad going to an android brothel. Whoa. Unfortunately, there are no lyrics, so we’ll never know what happened to the maenads there.
And even though that’s already ten, have two more old classics because why not. This ain’t no radio show with a time limit. THE WORLD IS OUR INTERNET.
Robot Rock by Daft Punk
The Robots by Kraftwerk
And how about a reader request…
These guys use Nintendos to make their music, and I actually saw them live once upon a time. “He can turn back time and history so his life became a misery.” Poor sad robot.
Other Songs About Robots to Listen to Now that You’re Obsessed:
What have we missed? Tell us your favorite robot songs in the comments, and we will add them to the list.