Learning with Phineas and Ferb Songs: Robot Riot

As I mentioned earlier this week, the boys and I loved the new Phineas and Ferb movie.  I even bought the soundtrack and have been listening to it nonstop.  One thing I like about Phineas and Ferb songs is that, though kids enjoy them, they are intelligent enough for adults as well.  In fact, there are many words/phrases in the songs that kids just won’t know the meaning of.  Instead of simply leaving your kids in the dark, why not use the songs as a teaching opportunity?

With this in mind, let’s look at one of the new songs from Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension: Robot Riot.  (Lyrics are courtesy of the Phineas and Ferb Wiki.)  One quick warning, though, the following might have spoilers for the movie.  So watch the movie first!

It’s gonna be a mechanized melee
A bit of a big bot brawl
When we get through you’re gonna know it’s true
The more metallic they are the harder they fall
And don’t mess with me ’cause I’m a whole lot of trouble
when I’m backed up against the wall

Right at the beginning, we have four words to go over: mechanized, melee, brawl, and metallic.  Mechanized, you can explain, is a reference to the robots.  Anything mechanical – with computers or gears inside – can be said to be mechanized.  A melee, involves a bunch of fighters on each side battling in a disorganized fashion.  In the context of the movie, Phineas and Ferb’s friends, using all of their previous inventions, battle the Norm-bots for control of the Tri-State Area.  They aren’t using any kind of organized tactics, they’re just all destroying as many robots as they can.  Brawl is a similar word, meaning a large fight.  Finally, metallic means made out of metal (referring again to the Norm-Bots).

We’re gonna kick some robot chassis
So you better tell your robot nation
Say your robot prayer, ’cause you better prepare
For an automaton annihilation

Notice those last two words?  “Automaton” and “annihilation.”  Depending on the age of your child, these words might be new.  You can explain to them that automaton is another word for robot and to annihilate something meant to destroy it.  While you’re at it, you can explain that “automaton annihilation” is an example of alliteration – the repetition of a sound over a series of words.

You think you’re gonna take us down
Well, mechanical man you just try it
You gonna ride that rail out of town

This is a Robot Riot!

I think you know what I mean
This is a Robot Riot
I’m gonna break you down
And sell you for scrap metal
But I’ll keep enough to build myself a trampoline
‘Cause you’re momma was a blender
and your dad was just a washing machine

This is a Robot Riot!

I’m gonna rip you up, I’m gonna break you down
I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town
You know that you’ll be dreadin’ this android Armageddon
I think you better check your fluids ’cause I know you’re sweatin’
You know you’re gonna lose and sing the robot blues
You’ll blow a fuse and take a robot snooze
I will deactivate ya, because I kinda hate ya
Don’t wanna beat around the bushes, gonna decimate ya

Here we have the phrase “chop shop” as well as the words android, armageddon, and decimate.  Children might not recognize that “chop shop” is a kind of operation (usually illegal) that takes a car and rips it into pieces.  Android, like “automaton” from earlier, is another word for robot.  Armageddon is a word that usually describes the world ending in a violent fashion.  In this case, though, it means that the end of the robots is going to come violently (as Phineas and Ferb’s crew rip them to pieces).  Finally, decimate means to destroy on a grand scale.  Considering the thousands of Norm-Bots streaming out of the portal, defeating them would truly be a decimation.

This is a Robot Riot!

Oh man it’s on!
I’m gonna rip you up
and put you back together
In a new configuration just to mow my lawn
‘Cause your sister is a fridge,
and you know her light is always on
This is a Robot Riot!

Robot Riot Robot Riot (Look Out!)
Robot Riot Robot Riot

This is a Robot Riot!

You better listen up
I got some breaking news
I’m gonna melt you down and pour you on some baby shoes
I’m really on a mission
I call it demolition
And when I’m through you’re gonna need more than a new transmission
No matter how you strive.
You’re gonna take a dive
I’m gonna mess you up and devastate your hard drive
I’m gonna shut you down, I’m teaching you a lesson
Rip out your CPU and show it to you still processing

Here we get into some computer terms (hard drive, CPU, processing), an automotive term (transmission), a phrase that might bear explaining (“pour you on some baby shoes”) and the word demolition.

You can explain what a hard drive (the place a computer stores items) and CPU are (the “brains” of a computer).  You can also explain that processing means performing a series of operations.  In the context of the song, this means that they would rip out the robots’ brains and show it to them while they (the brains) were still working.

A transmission is the part of the car that transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  It is stereotypically a part of cars that needs to be fixed at great expense.  A robot that is so broken that it needs “more than a new transmission” is pretty much broken beyond repair.

The phrase pour you on some baby shoes” refers to the custom some people have of coating their babies’ first shoes in bronze or other metals.

Finally, the definition of the word “demolition” (completely destroying) might not be known to kids, though the action would be familiar to any kid who built a block tower and then knocked it down.

This is a Robot Riot!

I’m gonna rip you up, I’m gonna break you down
I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town
You know that you’ll be dreadin’ this android Armageddon
I think you better check your fluids ’cause I know you’re sweatin’
You know you’re gonna lose and sing the robot blues
You’ll blow a fuse and take a robot snooze
I will deactivate ya, because I kinda hate ya
Don’t wanna beat around the bushes, gonna decimate ya

This is a Robot Riot!
(I’m gonna rip you up I’m gonna break you down I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town)

This is a Robot Riot!
(I’m gonna rip you up I’m gonna break you down I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town)

This is a Robot Riot!
(I’m gonna rip you up I’m gonna break you down I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town)

This is a Robot Riot!
(I’m gonna rip you up I’m gonna break you down I’m gonna take you to a chop shop down town)

Alright!

In the end, you can both enjoy the songs from the Phineas and Ferb TV show and movie *and* use them for educational opportunities.  When you’re done, your child will enjoy the songs even more as they understand some of the terms/concepts that might have escaped them previously.

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