So You Have to Teach a Robot About Rock and Roll…

I trust that I am correct in assuming that we can all relate to the following situation: For whatever reason, you’ve been left alone with the world’s most life-like and advanced robot, charged with the not-so-modest task of teaching it about rock and roll music. It doesn’t really matter how you came to be in this situation. Who knows how these things happen? If my grandmother had one saying (she had two or so), it was “These things, they happen.”

The point is, you’re here, and you have three songs to select, three songs that will form your robot’s entire base structure for rock and roll. Sure, it will hear other music and accrue knowledge (it is, after all, quite advanced), but this handful of songs will always be the foundation; these will form the core memories that trigger all sorts of new synapses and some such nonsense. I don’t really believe in science. If global warming is real, then why was my hotel room in Columbus, Ohio so cold last week?

It’s quite a lot of pressure, teaching a robot. The closest I had come previously was my Tamagotchi Virtual Pet that I had in 7th grade who literally pooped himself to death. Or herself. It’s important to be inclusive.

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So, long story short, my robot is trying to kill me, and I’m pretty sure he’ll succeed. He is, after all, a super-intelligent robot and I’m just some guy. Here’s my intro to rock and roll in three songs.

1. “Search and Destroy” – Iggy and the Stooges

Though this 1973 classic isn’t even close to being the first rock song ever written (That honor goes to “Boo-Boppa-Boo-Ba-Lama-Lama-Slim-Sklim-Babyo Babyo” by Cleve Mulcher and the Jacketmen), it may be the most primal. When Iggy sings “I’m a street-walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” you tend to believe him. It’s fitting that this track comes from an album called Raw Power, since it’s still capable of shaking a building 45 years later. This is a must if we’re talking “deep robot database.”

2.  “Livin’ After Midnight” – Judas Priest 

This song embodies the rock and roll spirit in a catchy, compact way that’s actually a hell of a lot more skillful than it lets on. Their 1980 record British Steel was a crossover hit, introducing dark British heavy metal to the rest of the world, and the group really streamlined their approach. Though the song lengths are shorter and the soloing less frantic, it only increases the focus on the songs themselves. This is a true rock classic, and hopefully will get this robot to stop attacking me for a bit.

3. “Gimme Some Lovin'” – Spencer Davis Group

This song has it all: strong roots in rhythm and blues, a young Steve Winwood, swirling and joyous organ lines, and a whole lot more. If any song celebrates the sheer joy that rock can create, it’s this one. If you manage to wrestle your hypothetical robot to the ground and access his data panels, you want to throw this one in for sure.


That’s only three of many solid choices for a strong rock base. Think about it: Let’s say you had to explain rock and roll to someone who had no conception of it. How would you do it? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo: Iggy Pop; by Michael Markos [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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