Interpretations:Become A Robot
I see this as an anti-conformity song, sort of like The Bells Are Ringing. The Johns are hoping that people don't become "robots," blindly doing what they're told, but they realize it's "too late" for many people. "Number Eight" strikes me as being some kind of social caste to which the narrator of that line belongs, and he's sticking with other Number Eights, simply because they're Number Eights. That's a pretty common science fiction theme. I seem to recall there being something similar in Brave New World, but with Alphas and Betas and such, but I can't quite remember. -VoVat
This song sounds to me like it's satirizing sci-fi in general. In all of those robot movies, none of the humans want to become robots, or become ruled by robots, or the like. And yet, oddly enough, no one ever seems to think of taking precautionary measures until the robots are already invading. The song's kinda saying. "Hey, I sure hope all those robots don't rebel against us and wipe out mankind! Oh, darn, would you look at that? That's EXACTLY what they're doing.... So.... wanna go and get some coffee?"
-Mushroom Pie 'n stuff
This doesn't exactly fit in the interp. page, but it sounds to me that Flansburgh is actually singing "Harbor a dolphin." I'll think of an alternate interpretation based on that in a bit. -Larry Cimora
I personally think the song is about suicide. -Bootler
The song seems to emit tones of worry, celebration, paranoia and sarcasm all at once.
I think the core of this song is about the music industry and the anticipated dangers of becoming popular.
'Number Eight' may be a reference to being 'number eight' on any published music chart. The song therefore feels like the singers are drinking at a celebration of their success, all the while making a sequence of toasts and hopes for the future: 'Let's stick together cause we're number eight', in other words, let's not stop making music now that we've finally garnered some mainstream acclaim. The immediate response to this -- 'Let's stick to "numbers" 'cause we're great!' -- feels like sarcasm that mocks the whole idea of measuring any song by numbering them in the first place. After all, since a song is an artistic creation, it often defies comparison with any other song. Who can really say what the worth of a song is, since they all differ as far as content, meaning, intent, substance and various skill levels of instrument and voice? ANY one song is bound to be utterly different from millions of others, so numbering a smattering of them seems pretty silly.
'Becoming a Robot' may refer to outside pressure that demands that they, rather than remaining skilled musicians, become souless machines that more often create music that fits very closely to whichever song was popular. Such music will appeal to the lowest common denominator and make more money, but it would be to the detriment of any artistic value or message they wish to convey in the future.
'Harboring a Deathwish' seems pretty simple: many musicians who become popular are suddenly swept into a life in which their marriages become troubled, their friends become fewer and fewer, their privacy is constantly infiltrated, the access to more money starts to feed vices that were previously in control only by virtue of a lack of funding and their lives are more and more controlled by their managers. Many artists in such a position begin to feel that suicide would be preferable to a life of 'stardom'. ((Kurt Cobain is an obvious example of how the negative aspects of stardom and the fear of conforming one's music to the mainstream can culminate in that very thing.))
What really made me laugh was: 'Hip, hip, horrific are the words we sing'. Here they are acknowledging that they are being morbid in worrying so much because of their success, which they should be savoring. But the response is, 'Hip, hip, horrific is our thing!', in other words, 'But it's what we do best!' . . . and really, it's part of the REASON for the success.
'Here's hoping . . .!' It's a really full song. o_o; :P But I haven't seen any such stagnation yet, guys!
This song is so strange! So, the Johns hope this guy doesn't become a robot but conveniently (clang clang) he does. Whoops, too late! It does seem like hip hip horrific IS Their thing. They do this "Here's hoping you don't" stuff with such happiness on the second verse. They've does stuff like this before. -- Buzzmusic100 ("Keep your voice down...")
Here’s hoping you don’t find yourself in an existential quandary
Here’s hoping you don’t become you don’t become a hollow shell of who you were and wish you your demise
I think this is an uncomplicated song about fear of cyberisation, and more generally fear of robots and mechanisation (see also Nanobots).
"We're number eight" - does this mean "we number eight"? Eight being the number of surviving humans after mass cyberisation.
"Let's stick to numbers 'cause we're great" - but robots like numbers, oh no! Is it too late?
"Hip hip horrific is our thing" - a bald statement of fact about the mission of TMBG.
imagining a music video wherein john & john stand outside a corporate headquarters greeting people as they drive in by clanging some large metal instrument and singing this. "here's hoping you don't become a robot! clang, clang, whoops too late"