Thursday, 24 February 2011
Dee D Jackson - Automatic Lover (1978/ No. 4/ 9 weeks/ Mercury)
"Programmed to receive automatic satisfaction"
Often novelty songs are a lot more profound than 'meaningful' ones. Dee D Jackson's one hit was in the same 1978 top ten as 'I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper' by Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip, and its disco-styling and that sleeve might lead you to expect something very similar; futuristic comedy soft porn.
Once you let it get under your skin, you realise that it is a creation of an altogether higher order. Thematically, it chimes with something I've been thinking about recently. According to David Levy's Love & Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, by 2050 most of us will be having sex with robots;
Love in space and time
There's no more feeling
Cold and unappealing
Longing to be touched...
Loging for a kiss...
Whisper words of love...
Tell me that you miss...
I can see two problems with this hypothesis; Unless android technology gets seriously good, machines are liable to remain less comely than people (unless they're your thing, and it must surely be a pretty niche taste) and it rather precludes the idea of meaningful emotional attachment, which is what differentiates even the most callously-intentioned pick-up from masturbation;
He's programmed to receive -
After love is done _
Where's the true reactiiooooon?
Dee D Jackson foresaw this lack 32 years ago! Alongside Kraftwerk's Computer World ("I dial this number/ for a data-date"), this is a song that feels more current now than of-its-time.
An electro-disco duet between a woman and a robot. She pleads again and again;
The robot can only reply by informing the singer of 'his' purpose in an electronic Teutonic voice;
ad infinitum. It's quite disturbing. If heard when you're not feeling particularly happy, this can be saddest song in the world.
Your body's cold
There's not a hand to ho-hoooold!