Mr. Roboto

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"Mr. Roboto"
Mr. Roboto.JPG
Single by Styx
from the album Kilroy Was Here
B-side"Snowblind"
ReleasedFebruary 11, 1983
Recorded1982
GenreProgressive rock,[1] synth-pop[2]
Length5:30 (album)
4:44 (single)
LabelA&M
Songwriter(s)Dennis DeYoung
Producer(s)Styx
Styx singles chronology
"Rockin' the Paradise"
(1981)
"Mr. Roboto"
(1983)
"Don't Let It End"
(1983)
Audio sample
"Mr Roboto"

"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 single edit, which has the synthesizer intro and a bar at the finale removed (available on Greatest Hits released by PolyTel in Canada in 1992), with the song "Snowblind" (from their previous album Paradise Theatre) as the B-side. In Canada, it went to #1 on the RPM national singles chart.[3] In the U.S., it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1983.[4]

Description and background[edit]

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 o shiritai)

The lyrics translate into English as follows:

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

The lyric "Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto" has entered popular culture as a catchphrase,[5] appearing in media such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Archer, My Life as a Teenage Robot, Arrested Development, Eight Crazy Nights, Austin Powers in Goldmember, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Man With A Plan, The Perfect Man, Chuck and Mr. Robot.

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 yells "I'm Kilroy! Kilroy!", ending the song.

The robot-like catchphrase was created with a vocoder.

Stan Winston, who would become well-known through his work on Jurassic Park, designed the Roboto costume and mask, which are displayed prominently on the cover of the album Kilroy Was Here.[6] The song's writer Dennis DeYoung did not think of the song as a single until his wife Suzanne, Dennis's friend Dave, and the staff at A&M suggested it as a good candidate. The track was released as the first single from the album at the last minute instead of "Don't Let It End" and turned out to be the band's last Top 5 US hit for eight years. As a result of this song, the Japanese phrase "domo arigato" entered popular American vernacular.[7] In addition, many have cited this song and the album as potentially having alienated older fans, some calling it "jumping the shark" for the band.[8] Though the song and album may not have resonated with older fans at the time, it remained relevant for younger generations, and James Young has said that due to the song, "we're a part of pop culture."[9]

"Mr. Roboto" has been described as synthpop.[2]

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 Modren [sic] 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.

Personnel[edit]

Music video[edit]

The song's video, directed by Brian Gibson, depicts Jonathan Chance (played by guitarist Tommy Shaw) walking into the Rock Museum to meet Kilroy, and a robot approaches. After this, it morphs into five robots moving and dancing (choreographed by Kenny Ortega).[10] Shortly thereafter, the robots transform into the members of Styx, including a clean-shaven Dennis DeYoung (he shaved his trademark moustache off at the conclusion of the Paradise Theater tour in 1982). 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.

Playing Mr. Roboto in the video was mime Robert Griffard.[11]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 40

Year-end chart[edit]

Year-end chart (1983) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[13] 28
Chart (1985–1986) Peak
position
Poland (LP3)[14] 23

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steele, Chandra (August 22, 2014). "8 Songs to Play During the Robot Uprising". PCMag. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Whitaker, Sterling (February 28, 2015). "How 'Kilroy Was Here' Tore Styx Apart". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  4. ^ "The Hot 100 : Apr 30, 1983 | Billboard Chart Archive". billboard.com. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  5. ^ Kuhlmey, Matthias Paul (February 12, 2014). "Mr. Roboto". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Wood, P. (April 2, 2014). "5 things to know about Styx." Gazette, p. B4.
  7. ^ Perusse, B. (March 26, 2007). "With all these fans, who needs critics?" The Gazette.
  8. ^ Penhollow, S. (June 1, 2007). "For Styx, still best of times supergroup embedded in 'fabric of pop culture'." Gazette, p. W3.
  9. ^ Ho, R. (January 17, 2008). "Sound Check: Rock of ages rolls with fans." The Atlanta Journal–Constitution, p. P9.
  10. ^ "HOLLYWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO HONOR KENNY ORTEGA WITH STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME IN FRONT OF THE FAMED PANTAGES THEATRE IN HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Life and Style. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Handy, Bruce (September 24, 2010). "An Interview With Randee Heller, Mad Men's Miss Blankenship". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 299. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Talent Almanac 1984: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 95 no. 52. December 24, 1983. p. TA-18.
  14. ^ "Notowanie nr 53" (in Polish). April 23, 1983. Retrieved November 23, 2019.

External links[edit]