Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” recently was included on a list of rock's most hated song. Our friends Mike and Carla from KKLZ in Las Vegas happened to speak to Styx’s James “JY” Young about the song and it turns out that he’s not a huge fan, either.
“I really thought that that song didn’t belong on a Styx record. But Dennis DeYoung had been very successful with songwriting with ‘Come Sail Away,’ ‘Lady’… ‘Babe’ was a little soft for me but it was another big hit for us. And Dennis came up with this ‘Mr. Roboto’ song. He didn’t smoke weed, so I didn’t know where it came from! He wrote the song and it got on the record, and we did our best to make it sound like something [Styx would do], but ultimately it made it to number two on the Hot 100.” (Actually, “Mr. Roboto” made it to three, per Billboard.)
He adds, “It was the only 45″ of ours that sold a million copies. I had a songwriting credit on the B-side, so I got paid for that.” That song was “Snowblind,” from the band’s previous album,1981’s Paradise Theater. That song was co-written by Young and DeYoung.
“So, after Dennis decided not to come out on the road anymore, we didn’t play it [anymore].” But Young notes that some of the band’s employees explained that, of the songs that they no longer played, “Mr. Roboto” was the most requested one.
“Mr. Roboto” was from the album Kilroy Was Here, a 1983 concept LP. The album peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was on the charts for eighteen weeks before falling off in April of that year.