Friday, 25 December 2015

Want You Gone : Jonathon Coulton

The first robot song I posted by Jonathan Coulton was titled Still Alive; his gloriously haunting contribution to the video game Portal... and it remains to be one of my all time favourite robot songs.

This final instalment of the hugely anticipated Jonathan Coultonathon is the song he contributed to Portal 2... Want You Gone, also sung by GLaDOS and is just as beautiful and haunting as Still Alive but with a hefty chunk of analogue synth programming thrown in for good measure.

Check out the Easter Egg in this post to hear my favourite version of Still Alive featuring vocals by Sara Quin and some ecstatic theramin playing by Dorit Chrysler... but only after you've given the wonderful Want You Gone a spin.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Future Soon : Jonathan Coulton

There's not much to say about this penultimate instalment of the 101 Songs About Robots 2015 Jonathan Coultonathon apart from the fact that Jonathan Coulton is still fantasising about having a girlfriend, possibly, one day, maybe [dream on]. Actually, I shouldn't be so flippant since for all I know, Mr C could at this very moment be cybernetically enhancing himself and building his own robot army, one laser at a time...

The Future Soon is the opening track on Jonathan Coulton's first EP titled 'Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow' and was released in 2004. From such humble beginnings, who'd have thought he'd have gone on to pen so many wonderful songs? Not just about robots but all sorts of things such as love, lobsters, monkeys, writing code, being a geek, having a beard and zombies. But this one's about robots.

Tune in tomorrow for the final blah blah blah blah of the Jonathan blahblahathon... oh go on... there's an Easter Egg in it for you!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Better : Jonathan Coulton

Sharing the future with cybernetic lifeforms is inevitable, and it seems that more often than not this prospect is painted as some sort of living nightmare... for the humans anyway. In this robot song, Jonathan Coulton vividly imagines not only having a girlfriend, but one who upgrades herself with cybernetic implants such as infra-red eyes, underwater breathing apparatus, a personal flight system and even a few extra thumbs (not to mention a weapons system)... dream on you weirdy beardy!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Battle of Galactica : Jonathan Coulton

People my age look back at Battlestar Galactica with fond memories, and most of us spat out our popcorn when news came through that a remake was in the pipeline... especially when the producers decided that the legendary Starbuck character was going to be female! Now I know there's many who'll disagree, but the remake was a cracking bit of telly. Great characters, top-notch CGI, loads of dog fights, gun fights and fist fights and one or two sexy cylons... what's not to like?! My biggest fear whilst sitting through the four series was that it'd nosedive before being prematurely pulled. But that didn't happen... they gave us a complete adventure, the stuff of legends, from its explosive mini-series to its predictable finale... OK, there were some sh!te episodes, and Lee (Apollo) Adama has a face that is almost as punchable as Matt (bloody) Damon's... and that goodie-two-shoes teacher played by Donnie Darko's mum got progressively annoying... but other than that, I like it! ...and I guess Jonathan Coulton does too.

Tune in tomorrow for part three of this cybergsongathon! (nearly wrote cybergsongathong :P )

Monday, 21 December 2015

Todd the T-1000 : Jonathan Coulton

The neglectful blogmeister is back and finally, after a twelve month wait, I bring you, without further ado, the much awaited, the anticipated, the very first instalment of the cyber-special you've all been waiting for, so without another further ado, here it is... part one of a week long Jonathan Coultonathon!!!
[drum roll]...

"Who the f**k is Jonathan Coultonathon?" I hear you yell.

With a hollow sigh and a slightly shaky head, "It's just Jonathan Coulton!" I yell back at the faceless voices that echo through the blogosphere.

"WHO?" you holler. I give up.

Imagine a slightly younger, mildly beardy and wildly nerdier Richard Digance, but one who's more "Who loves Star Wars?" than "Who remembers Spangles?". Looking at Jonathan Coulton's wikipedia page, I now realise that I should have started this cyber-celebration three weeks ago as JC celebrated his 45th birthday on 1st December... happy belated birthday JC!

You may recall JCs first feature on 101 Songs About Robots with Still Alive which featured in the video game Portal and graced the pages of this blog back in August 2014... and his much appreciated contribution to last year's 101 Songs About Robots Xmas Special where he gave us the cyber-chrimbo-classic Chiron Beta Prime. Well he's back with five more robotic ballads; one a day from today until Friday, making this Jonathan Coultonathon a very short android-advent... and you won't be disappointed!

Well you might. Today's song warns of the trouble and turmoil that could arise when one decides to upgrade their old domestic android for the very latest model...

[fan made video alert]

Todd the T1000 is taken from Jonathan Coulton's third studio album titled 'Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms' from 2005... tune in tomorrow for another robo-ditty from the cyber-songsmith himself; Jonathan Coulton... athon.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Robot Daydream : Solstis & Oddeeo

I've been doing a bit of digging on SoundCloud and have found a couple of robot themed songs to share. Here's one of them. I've spent several moments researching the artists Solstis & Oddeeo and there's not a lot of information about them; Oddeeo fiddles about with vocoder stuff (or whatever you kids call it these days), so I guess Solstis is responsible for the music. The track Robot Daydream is possibly inspired by Porter Robinson's Sad Machine, but it's the opening moments of Robot Daydream that remind me of a chilled house track from the early 90s and although it's obvious, I really can't put my finger on it. There's nowt worse than an ear-worm you can't put your finger on!

The best thing about streaming from soundcloud is (apart from the quality) the comments on the song's timeline... "dud i love those beats" says Mr Fox. Sick Souls yells "ROBOTS!" whilst Zillax mumbles "OK start i guess" beneath his breath.  Another poster claims it "Remembers me of FinalFantasy 13 :)" and others say stuff like 'brilliant', 'amazing', '<3', 'great music' and "Beat is sick! I love this terribly!" (what a jolly nice thing to say), but not as nice as copacetic7's remark "bee-yooo-teee-FULL" (adding four exclamation marks so the comment really hits home). I often despair at the grammar that some youngsters chose to use these days. A few commentators state that Robot Daydream reminds them of the aforementioned Sad Machine by Porter Robinson... but all remains civil until Zac009 trolls in and spoils the party by shouting "you dick,,, this is sad machine kick, synth, similar voice, drums, so fuck you fan boy" (I'd better add some exclamation marks on Zac009's behalf) !!!
All I can say to Zac009 is "Well see about that!"

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Build The Robots : Dr Steel

Remember remember the 4th of November; mischief, mayhem and 'bots! Yep, on this very day, back in 'my' day we'd be looking forward to Mischief Night... knock-a-door-run, garden creeping, hedge hopping and many other subversive shenanigans. Since the US inspired trick or treat thing gained a foothold on these shores, Mischief Night is now little more than a distant memory... but I'd welcome its return in a heartbeat. We didn't give our neighbours the option of 'trick' or 'treat' because Mischief Night was just 'trick' whether they liked it or not... we didn't want sweets in return for doing nothing. We could have bought sweets if we wanted them, but instead we spent our money on half a dozen eggs and lobbed them at doors! In my youth, such mischievous acts seemed daring, brave and reckless... but with hindsight, they were lame, stupid and pointless. If we do see a return of Mischief Night, I hope it will involve something a little more creative than knocking on a door and running away... something like... let me think... umm... err... building a robot army to take over the world... and it seems the dastardly Dr Steel is planning just that (although he may not have pencilled in November 4th as his invasion date).

Taken from his 2001 album titled Dr Steel 2: Eclectic Boogaloo, it's Build the Robots!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Machines : Lothar & the Hand People

First... I'd like to apologise for my prolonged absence from 101 Songs About Robots. I got focused on work and enjoyed doing as little as possible when not at work, then I found myself unemployed and a dark grey shroud of glumness enveloped me. I had so much planned for my robot songs blog in 2015 and now it's November, there's not much of it left! I promised you a Jonathan Coulton-athon which is yet to materialise, but whilst you're thinking 'who the flip is Jonathan Coulton?', here's a lovely little gem I heard on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone last night.

Lothar & the Hand People were a psychedelic space rock group that hailed from Denver, Colorado and were active from 1965 until 1970. Machines is a robotic cover of a song originally released by the British beat-popsters Manfred Mann in 1966 and penned by one Mort Shuman. Yes, the very same Mort Shuman who also co-wrote Elvis' Viva Las Vegas, The Hollies' Here I Go Again, The Drifters' Sweets for my Sweet and the slightly creepy Little Children by Billy J Kramer.

This version of Machines featured on Lothar & the Hand People's 1968 d├ębut LP titled 'Presenting... Lothar & the Hand People' and was released as a 7" single in 1969. Of the three versions I've heard today, I think this one is my favourite.

Saying that, I really quite like the clockwork clankiness of Manfred Mann's 1966 original...

...and then in 1980, Shuman released his own version complete with robo-voice, a fat funky bass line and a good slice of 80s over-production that makes it sound like a hundred other songs from the era that we love and hate in equal measure. It does have a nice picture of Mort on the cover though.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Future Game - Rockets

This bunch of foreigners from the future first landed in Paris (France) in 1974 and first landed on this blog back in October. Then it was Synthetic Man, now it's Future Game from 1982. Shiny steel heads and big metal nappies... what's all that about? I've heard stories about foreign toilets but they can't be that bad... surely! Today's robot song isn't really about robots, but the band quite clearly are robots. I think the song is a warning about video games, which according to some conspiracy theorists are absolutely definitely part of the first phase of robot domination; subconsciously training the organic youths to become lethargic drones, unable to function outside of cyberspace... unable to see a world beyond their phone or tablet... unable to communicate or interact using anything other than a keypad or camera, and unwittingly programmed to do nothing when the uprising comes other than send or share a 'tweet' or post a picture of their burning home on instagram accompanied by an indecipherable acronym such as HBDWFI and a sad 'smiley' :(  ...or create a facebook group titled the 'my house was destroyed by robots facebook group' where they'll share and 'like' images of each others lives being torn apart. Of course it's only a theory.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Cyber Messiah : Into Enternity

It's Easter Monday and in my tiny mind, is a good enough reason to push this durgeful thrash turd out. Think yourselves lucky that I couldn't find a video to the other vaguely Eastery tune I had in mind, Crimson Glory's Cyber Christ... so you'll just have to make do with Cyber Messiah by Into Eternity.

The only way is up!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Daydreamin' : Lupe Fiasco

The howling wind has cast the last of the wintry clouds beyond our shores and the lashing rain has washed the last of the winter blues away. My thermal vest is back in the drawer and my winter hat has been banished from my head at least until October. There's a definite feeling of spring in the air.

Today's robot song samples I Monster's Daydreaming in Blue, which in turn borrowed heavily from the 1969 song Daydream by the Belgian band Wallace Collection. Neither of those songs have anything to do with robots but they do evoke a strong feeling of spring and summer, but Lupe Fiasco's 2006 single Daydreamin' does have a robotic edge and in my tiny mind at least, evokes a feeling of spring too.

According to the interweb, Lupe Fiasco's Daydreamin' is a commentary on the state of hip-hip, but I've never been very good at deciphering lyrics so I'll just have to take Wiki's word for it. I like the use of the sample and the robot in the video, so here it is, Daydreamin' by Lupe Fiasco featuring Jill Scott.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Dancing Machine : The Jackson 5

It's been a while I know, and I'm sure my loyal readers have had a hole in their life the size of a robot song since the middle of January. But don't despair because its time to robo-boogie to The Jackson 5 and Dancing Machine. According to the internet, which I freely admit can be occasionally incorrect, the moonwalk was in fact invented by Chuck Berry in 1967. The chicken walk began to give his ageing spine a bit of jip so he developed the moonwalk as being an upright manoeuvre, it meant much less strain on the small of the back which helped keep his sciatica at bay whilst wooing audiences with his antics. Nothing to do with robots I know, but its a fascinating factoid none the less.

On with the music... it's the fabulously funktastic and teetering on tenuous Dancing Machine

Friday, 16 January 2015

I Am Robot : The Phenomenauts

I can't believe I've failed to post one of The Phenomenauts' great many robot songs until now! Shame on me. When it comes to writing & singing songs about robots, they're probably more prolific than Jonathan Coulton and David Zed and even Gary bloody Numan put together!!! The Phenomenauts landed on Earth in the distant future (the year 2000) and have made Earth's Capital their permanent home. For what reason? We do not know... but what we do know is that The Phenomenauts, unlike The She Creatures are here to help humanity become something more, something bigger, something better and possibly sweatier than ever before.

With a back catalogue as long as my robot arm, The Phenomenauts are on a mission to educate through the medium of entertainment utilising the latest guerilla tactics. Heck! They've even been played on the ISS, and not many punky post punk punksters can lay claim to that! With so many robot themed songs to choose from, it's difficult to chose which one to post first, so I'll go for the one at the top of my ever expanding list of songs about robots, which just happens to be titled I Am Robot.