Monday, August 3, 2015

"Mr. Roboto" by Styx

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1347
Date:  02/12/1983
Debut:  40
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Styx pushed into the concept album territory with their album "Paradise Theater." Featuring two Top 10 hits, "The Best of Times" (#3) and "Too Much Time on My Hands" (#9), it became the band's first and only #1 album. There had been tension in the band even before "Paradise Theater" and it was about to get worse with their next venture. Dennis DeYoung wanted to take the band even further into rock opera territory and came up with a full concept for an album titled "Kilroy Was Here." The plotted story about how rock music is outlawed by a morality organization was not exactly well received by the other band members. DeYoung's concept also included an elaborate theatrical stage show and video which had the band members playing specific roles. Despite being at odds, the band moved forward with the album and tour. To kick things off, this first synth-heavy single was issued and hit pretty big reaching #3 on both the pop and Mainstream Rock charts. The album vaulted to #3 as well, but ended up selling less than their previous multi-platinum works.

ReduxReview:  Ah yes. The album and tour that pretty much destroyed one of my favorite bands! We were big Styx fans wearing out several cassettes of their albums ("The Grand Illusion" was our fave). We also loved concept albums and songs with story lines, so when this song and album came out we were totally on board. We cranked the shit out of this song when cruising around town. It was da bomb. Now 30+ years later, I look back on this song in a more nostalgic way. I mean, really. This was a crazy ass song for a single. It was goofy, over the top, and nothing like the Styx we knew. And despite not having a real chorus, the song was pretty darn catchy. I'd probably consider it the annoying little brother to Queen's "Bohemian Rhaposdy." Is it a good song? Well, that is debatable. But it was fun and still is. I just don't gush over it now like I did when I was a teenager. It does, however, bring back fond memories.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band never intended for this song to be released as a single. It was meant to be a transition song for the tour. But some preliminary test marketing done by the label showed that listeners chose this song as a single over the rest. The label took that advice and the track became a hit. It has also become one of Styx's most memorable and enduring songs being used in films, TV shows, and commercials.  2) Their elaborate stage show with sets and props was not typical for an arena rock band. It began with a 10-minute concept film before DeYoung and Tommy Shaw came out to "perform" this song. They actually acted out a scene with dialog as if the video continued on stage. The full band arrives after their scene and beings to play. The whole thing didn't sit well with a lot of concert goers who where there to see a rock band, not a theater show. There were many reports of the band getting heavily booed during the lengthy opening. The tour ended up losing money and after all the dust settled, Shaw quit the band. Everyone else then decided to also go their own ways and the main era of Styx came to an end.


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