Mr. Roboto

This is one of the greatest songs of all time, and I will broach no arguments on that. Which doesn’t mean I expect anyone to take it seriously. I get that it’s hilarious. The fact that it’s delivered completely straight just makes it greater. For those who’ve only heard it on the radio and whatnot, the video takes the whole thing to a higher level of ridiculous. Dennis DeYoung looks like he’s auditioning for Miami Vice: The Musical, and the robot dancers can’t even do the robot convincingly. Among other silly things. You have to wonder what the creative process was that convinced everyone they were on the right track. As a matter of fact, not everyone was convinced; some of the members of Styx were aware that they had trod deep into Spinal Tap territory, and wanted out. Tommy Shaw was the first to throw down the towel, and left the group shortly after the Kilroy tour. Musical theatre, apparently, was not what he had signed up for. DeYoung, on the other hand, was born for it, and it should come as no surprise that he eventually ended up where many ambitious concept album creators have before; in a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s also recorded an album of Broadway standards and wrote his own musical adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Obviously, he’s got the voice and dramatic sensibility for it, but it’s not exactly compatible with being in a hard-rockin’ rock band. Kilroy Was Here is an ambitious, quixotic attempt to meld DeYoung’s Broadway dreams with the heretofore quite rock-oriented Styx sound, in a concept album format. Honestly, I think it succeeded to a surprising degree, and this song is the glorious apex of that vision. Too bad it contributed to their eventual breakup and stuff.


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