Mr. Roboto

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For other uses, see Mr. Roboto (disambiguation).
"Mr. Roboto"
Single by Styx
from the album Kilroy Was Here
B-side "Snowblind"
Released February 11, 1983
Recorded 1982
Genre Synthrock, progressive rock
Length 5:30 (album)
4:44 (single)
Label A&M
Writer(s) Dennis DeYoung
Producer(s) Styx
Styx singles chronology
"Rockin' the Paradise"
(1981)
"Mr. Roboto"
(1983)
"Don't Let It End"
(1983)
Music sample

"Mr. Roboto" is a song written by Dennis DeYoung of the band Styx, and recorded on the Styx album Kilroy Was Here. It was also released as a 45 RPM single in a 4:44 radio edit, which has the synthesizer intro removed (available on "Greatest Hits" released by PolyTel in Canada in 1982), with the song "Snowblind" (from their previous album Paradise Theatre) as the B-side. In Canada, where they were generally more popular than in their native U.S., it went to #1 on the RPM national singles chart,[1] becoming their third single to top the charts in that country (following "Babe" in 1979-80 and "The Best of Times" in 1981).[citation needed] In the U.S., it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2]

Description and background[edit]

The song's chorus features the line, "Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto", which has become a catchphrase.

The Japanese lyrics at the beginning of the song are as follows:

どうもありがとうミスターロボット (dōmo arigatō misutā Robotto)
また会う日まで (mata au hi made)
どうもありがとうミスターロボット (dōmo arigatō misutā Robotto)
秘密を知りたい (himitsu wo shiritai)

The lyrics translate into English as follows:

Thank you very much, Mr. Robot
Until the day (we) meet again
Thank you very much, Mr. Robot
I want to know your secret

The song tells part of the story of Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (ROCK), in the rock opera Kilroy Was Here. The song is performed by Kilroy (as played by keyboardist Dennis DeYoung), a rock and roll performer who was placed in a futuristic prison for "rock and roll misfits" by the anti-rock-and-roll group the Majority for Musical Morality (MMM) and its founder Dr. Everett Righteous (played by guitarist James Young). The Roboto is a model of robot which does menial jobs in the prison. Kilroy escapes the prison by overpowering a Roboto prison guard and hiding inside its emptied-out metal shell. When Jonathan Chance (played by guitarist Tommy Shaw) finally meets Kilroy, at the very end of the song, Kilroy unmasks and says, I'm Kilroy! Kilroy!, ending the song.

The robot-like catchphrase was created with a vocoder. The song heavily features the Oberheim OB-Xa and PPG Wave synthesizers.

Stan Winston designed the Roboto costume and mask, which is displayed prominently on the cover of the album Kilroy Was Here. The track was released as the first single from the album at the last minute instead of "Don't Let It End" at the request of A&M Records.

Composition[edit]

The song is not in any one key and is instead in a related set of modes. The intro begins in A-flat Mixolydian mode, ending in an F (dominant to B-flat). The singing begins, the chords alternating between a second-inversion B-flat (4-3 suspension resolution) and G-flat Lydian mode. Out of the "Domo" part, the song bursts into G-flat Lydian. It changes to E-flat minor Aeolian mode at "I am the Modern Man", and this is the dominant key for the remainder of the song. Some portions of the song transition to E-flat major (similar to a Picardy third) as a transition point (to the "secret, secret" part as a pivot chord (see modulation) and to A-flat Mixolydian, a modal change from the G-flat Lydian that the same part took in the beginning of the song). It transitions back to the familiar G-flat Lydian and then E-flat minor as the singer introduces himself as Kilroy.

Video[edit]

The song's video, directed by Brian Gibson, depicts Jonathan Chance (played by guitarist Tommy Shaw) walking in Rock Museum to meet Kilroy and a robot approaches. After this, it morphs into five robots moving and dancing. Shortly thereafter, the robots transform into the members of Styx and including a clean-shaven Dennis DeYoung (he shaved his trademark moustache off at the conclusion of the Paradise Theater tour in 1982 and has remained clean-shaven to this day). The video then alternates between the band playing the song on a stage and scenes from the Kilroy Was Here backdrop film. Then, the members of Styx morph back into the robots and DeYoung confronts the robots, screaming in the ear of one of the robots before collapsing. DeYoung awakens to see he is being experimented on and runs off. The video cuts back to the ending of the first scene and Jonathan Chance climbs on to the stage. Before the robot removes his mask to reveal Kilroy, another shot of the robot with lights on is used to end the clip.

Uses in media[edit]

Covers[edit]

  • The Japanese new wave band Polysics covered the song in 2009.

Movies[edit]

The song was featured in the 2002 film Eight Crazy Nights, starring Adam Sandler.[3]

In the 2005 film The Perfect Man, Holly's mother is taken on a date by Lenny to Styx tribute band and the first song sung is Mr. Roboto. Lenny observes that the vocalist is not as good as the original, but if one closes the eyes one won't tell the difference, to what Holly retorts that she does. The tribute band vocalist is played by Dennis DeYoung.[4]

Television[edit]

A 1999 commercial for the Volkswagen Golf featuring actor Tony Hale is widely credited with bringing the song back into popularity. He later parodied this in an episode of Arrested Development.

In Chuck, Jeffster play Domo Arigato at Ellie and Devon's wedding in the episode Chuck Versus the Ring. In Glee, the glee club Throat Explosion performs a mash-up with this song and "Counting Stars" from the American pop rock band OneRepublic in the episode "City of Angels". Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon lip synched the song in a "Lip Synch Battle" against actress Emma Stone during an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airing on April 28, 2014.[5]

The first two and a bit minutes are used as the first track on the Japanese TV series Densha Otoko.

Other[edit]

In March 2011, a Japanese restaurant, Mr. Robata, opened in New York City, citing that the name was chosen to reflect the style of Japanese cooking, robata, as well as the Styx song.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  2. ^ "The Hot 100 : Apr 30, 1983 | Billboard Chart Archive". billboard.com. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  3. ^ "Eight Crazy Nights (2002) - Soundtracks". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  4. ^ "The Perfect Man (2005) : Trivia". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  5. ^ Waxman, Olvia B. (April 28, 2014). "WATCH: Emma Stone and Jimmy Fallon Face Off in Epic Lip Sync Battle". Time. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  6. ^ Mulcahy, James (2011-03-23). "Zagat Buzz Blog: First Look: Mr. Robata, A Restaurant Inspired by Styx, March 23, 2011". Zagat.com. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
Preceded by
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
Canadian RPM number-one single
April 9–16, 1983 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby

External links[edit]