The Songs of Marvin The Paranoid Android Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Songs of Marvin The Paranoid Android

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Life, don't talk to me about life.

Marvin the Paranoid Android is a character from Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. Marvin is a chronically depressed robot who has a brain the size of a planet, but his owners make him do menial chores like picking paper up off the floor. He was manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation when they were developing robots with a GPP feature (Genuine People Personalities)1. He's a personality prototype. You can tell, can't you?

In 1981, Marvin released two pop singles produced by Polydor Records: the self-titled 'Marvin' and 'Reasons to be Miserable'. The four songs featured on these two 45rpm records were composed by Douglas Adams, Stephen Moore and John Sinclair. Catchy, largely electronically-produced music, they were sung and/or narrated by Marvin, voiced by Moore who played the role in the original TV and radio series.

The records are difficult to purchase these days, but they are available to download from the Internet. Links to MP3 downloads can be found in the Referenced Sites section on the side of this Entry.

'Marvin'

Ten billion logic functions, maybe more
They make me pick the paper off the floor

Marvin's first single made it to Number 53 on the UK singles charts. This song is droned by the Paranoid Android, accompanied by female backing vocals, telling about his terrible life and anticipating the great junkyard in the sky.

'Metal Man'

Marvin here. Never fear. All systems clear. Don't lose your cool, my captain.

The B-side to 'Marvin', this is about a ship and its captain trapped in a black hole. In spoken word, the captain is trying desperately to get Marvin's attention and assistance. Eventually, Marvin comes around and saves the day. 'Metal Man' could be compared to David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'.

'Reasons to be Miserable (His Name is Marvin)'

Reasons to be miserable give my brain a pain
Very little turns me on, Marvin is my name

The title of this second, less successful, record is a spoof of the song 'Reasons to be Cheerful' by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. A catchy tune, Marvin sings to you just what the title suggests, voicing frustration at his menial life.

Though it did not actually appear in the film, a new version of this song was featured on the soundtrack album of the Hitchhiker movie. This new rendition has different music, slightly revised lyrics and is sung in the third person by Stephen Fry, who was the voice of the Guide in the movie.

'Marvin, I Love You'

Marvin, I love you
Marvin, I love you
Remember, I'm programmed for you

This is narrated by Marvin, telling the story of how one day when he was particularly bored and depressed, he decided to tidy up his old databanks. In doing so, he accidentally opens a wrong file and hears a woman's voice (played by Kimi Wong2) singing the words 'Marvin, I love you'. Marvin never finds out who or what was saying this or where it came from. And so he 'lived miserably ever after'. 'Marvin, I Love You' was later featured on a Doctor Demento3 compilation album.

1Sounds ghastly, doesn't it?2The wife of writer and actor Richard O'Brien.3A radio DJ in America who plays unusual music.

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