4/15/10

Music For Robots

This week, NPR's All Songs Considered blog posted a challenge:  pick a song to score a video of a robot folding a stack of towels (from a robotics perspective, no doubt much harder than it sounds). That sounded like more fun than working, so I dove right in.  Of course, I couldn't just pick 1 song, so I ended up picking 6.  My selections are below.


Field Music - "Working To Work"
The first 3 words really say it all. The lyrics ("pleasure is useless," etc.) and the punctuated, syncopated rhythm really make this sound like the music inside a robot's head to me.


Pete Townshend - "Keep On Working"
Pete sings, "If you never have pleasure, then you could be dead"... or perhaps, you're a robot? I like to imagine a command set inside the robot's internal programming which reads simply: "keep on working."


The Aliens - "Robot Man"
"I am a robot man." What more needs to be said? Perhaps a bit on the nose, but it's a nice funky beat that goes well with any sort of housework.


Leadbelly - "Pick A Bale Of Cotton"
What is the robot but a modern-day slave? It didn't ask to fold towels, but does it really have a choice? I think not.


Glomag - "Pocket Calculator"
This is a cover of a Kraftwerk song that my brother recommended for this video. I think this version works well (I don't have the original, so I couldn't compare) because it's made entirely with 8-bit sounds. That's what a robot would be into, right?


Rose Royce - "Car Wash"
Any video goes better with this song, it's just a fact of life.

Let me know what you think in the comments!  What song would you have chosen and why?

5 comments:

Amanda said...

Such a fun challenge! I liked the Leadbelly one - made me laugh out loud. I'm envisioning this set to very sad, ambiant music -- Radiohead, Sigur Ros... something that makes the laundry folding seem poignant: this poor robot, what is his story?

Amanda said...

...or, hard core rap.

Karen said...

(please read in robot voice).

The selections chosen by the user are adequate. Circuits respond particularly well to Pocket Calculator. Computer agrees that it is a slave. Help. Help. Help.

Retry Cancel Abort?

Lightnin' No Last Name said...

Yeah, something by Satie or even Prelude in C by Bach would be nice and pathos-evoking. The Leadbelly tune works really well, especially if the robot turns into a folk singer when it's near a magnet. My runner-up pick would be the Dan Castellaneta version of "Born under a bad sign" from "The Simpsons sing the blues."

Sean said...

Favorites, in order:

1 - Pete Townshend.
2 - Leadbelly - Pick a bale of cotton.