Robot Boy

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"Robot Boy"
Studio-A Thousand Suns Cover clean.jpg
Song by Linkin Park from the album A Thousand Suns
Working title Robot Boy
Recorded 2008 - 2010
Length 04:29
Time signature 4/4
Tempo 130
Key F Major
Live debut May 24, 2014
Last played October 27, 2017
Writer Linkin Park
Producer Mike Shinoda, Rick Rubin
Label Warner Bros.

A Thousand Suns track listing
  1. The Requiem
  2. The Radiance
  3. Burning In The Skies
  4. Empty Spaces
  5. When They Come For Me
  6. Robot Boy
  7. Jornada Del Muerto
  8. Waiting For The End
  9. Blackout
  10. Wretches And Kings
  11. Wisdom, Justice, And Love
  12. Iridescent
  13. Fallout
  14. The Catalyst
  15. The Messenger

Background

"Robot Boy", despite its seemingly simple premise, is one of the most complex songs on A Thousand Suns. In many cases, Shinoda and Bennington would record and double melodies and harmonies, then choose the "vocal hierarchy" during mixdown. With multiple tracks to choose from, they were able to blend and fade between each singer. "Robot Boy", for example, begins its first of three separate movements with six overlaying vocals — one main and two harmonies per singer — then balloons to more than 24 tracks packed with volume fades and EQ automation. "We decided to go for a more vintage vocal layering, a la the Beach Boys and The Eagles—again, to contrast a robotic, mechanical-sounding track," says Shinoda.[1]

The first mention of "Robot Boy" was made on June 5, 2009 via a post on Mike's blog where he said, "We had a big band meeting this week to get caught up on album progress. With all the New Divide and Transformers stuff going on, we've been distracted for a while :) In our weekly meetings, we listen to each song, give it a grade (A+ to F-), and write notes. The grades get tallied (10 points for an A+, 9 for an A, and so on). The written notes are things like "the music in the first half loses my attention a little bit," or "I like the chorus, but the verse is a little weak." My favorite note from this week: "Sometimes it’s nice to have balls." (thank you Dave) The songs all have working titles like "Robot Boy," "Rygar," and "Underbite." Usually the working titles don't sound anything like the song (the name usually comes before we've written a note). All of those titles are going to change, but we need to name stuff to keep it organized. “Robot Boy” got the highest grade so far, at about an 8.75. "Voyage" got the lowest, with a cumulative 3.5 and notes like "sleepy time." LOL. We listened to about 18 song ideas, and I think we'll have another session to listen to another 10-15 songs in a week or two."[2] "Under Bite" ended up turning into "The Catalyst" and "Rygar" ended up turning into "Wretches And Kings" from this post as well.

Chester claimed "'Blackout' and 'Robot Boy' were a lot of fun to record. There were so many elements to the songs that it made them really interesting to do" on the LP Underground Newsletter Anniversary Edition. The song's piano intro makes way for a song dominated by Mike and Chester's layered voices, harmonies building into a climactic synth solo. Its intense use of layering is what stops the song from being performed in its entirety live. In a LPU Chat in 2013, on the subject of "Skin To Bone" and "Robot Boy" live, Mike replied, "Some songs weren't made to be played live, we might play them somehow but we have other songs in mind, those songs are made of samples and keys if the band was made of 6 Shinodas we could play them."[3]

In 2020 when asked if "Robot Boy" was influenced by the song "Peace" by Depeche Mode, Mike said, "No, the chord progression is a 60s/70s progression. You hear it on things by The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and a host of other bands from that era. And I thought it would be interesting to do that progression. You don't usually hear that progression with modern sounds and sampled beats and things like that. So that was like the chord progression and the music bed. And over the top of that, the lyrics and stuff, I think that was mostly Chester on the lyrics, and I think I came up with the melody or I helped with the melody."[4]

Remix

In 2011, the Street Drum Corps did a remix of the song, dubbing it "unofficial" even though the band clearly had sent them the song's stems for their remix.[5]

Versions

Note: Only the date of the very first release of each version is listed.

Studio

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Robot Boy A Thousand Suns 4:29 2008-2010 September 8, 2010
Robot Boy (Test Mix, Optional Vocal Take) LP Underground Eleven 4:31 November 15, 2011
  • Different lyrics.
  • Different mix.
Robot Boy A Thousand Suns Instrumentals 4:28 2008-2010
  • The CD dates from September 15, 2010.
  • Official instrumental version.

Remix

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Street Drum Corps' Unofficial Remix of Linkin Parks Robot Boy 4:26 November 5, 2011

Live

"Robot Boy" has never been played live in its studio form. It has, however, been consistently performed throughout The Hunting Party touring cycle as a shortened instrumental, starting with KFMA Day 2014. When performing this version, Mike is the only person truly playing, as he plays the synth solo. "Robot Boy" was the first song to get its debut after the cycle for the album it appears on has ended.

A shortened version of "Robot Boy" opened the band's Hollywood Bowl tribute show, performing only the intro and outro of the song, sampling Chester's vocals as they all sang the track.

On Mike's solo tour, the shortened form of "Robot Boy" performed during the The Hunting Party tour returned, usually serving to open the encore, though it would also sporadically be used to open the show and very rarely was performed mid-set. The song was almost always followed by "World's On Fire", though by the end of the 2019 European Tour, both "Castle Of Glass" and "Hold It Together" had been played after it. Mike would also play the synth solo of "Robot Boy" during the extended bridge of "World's On Fire" after Dan's drum solo.

Variations

Linkin Park

Last Updated: August 26, 2018

Type Description First Played Last Played
Alternative Shortened (Intro, Synth Bridge, and Ending Instrumental Only) May 24, 2014 November 7, 2015
Alternative Shortened (Intro/Outro Only) October 27, 2017 October 27, 2017

Mike Shinoda

Last Updated: July 10, 2019

Type Description First Played Last Played
Alternative Shortened (Intro, Synth Bridge, and Ending Instrumental Only) October 13, 2018 March 26, 2019

Personnel

Lyrics

External Links

References