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Jonathan Coulton

When They Might Be Giants were first starting out they experimented with an answering machine service named Dial-a-Song, by means of which listeners could call them in Brooklyn and listen to a random taped song. The service was popular enough that it broke down frequently, but not before it helped them get signed to an indie label, Bar/None. Jonathan Coulton, standing on the shoulders of the Giants both musically and spiritually, found fame by the 21st century equivalent of Dial-a-Song through "Thing a Week," a podcast that delivered a new song he had recorded every week for a year. His talent as a pop architect, appealingly offbeat subjects, and propensity for combining them in bittersweet but humorous songs -- imagine Pluto's moon singing melancholy consolation to help it get over not being officially classified a planet any more -- earned him a dedicated and cultish following.

At Yale Coulton met and befriended writer and comedian John Hodgman, who would become a collaborator of his on several projects. At graduation, the two moved to Manhattan where Coulton found work as a software engineer, self-releasing CDs of quirky folk-rock like Smoking Monkey (2003) and the EP Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow (2004) on the side. At the same time, Hodgman was embarking on a series of lectures called the Little Gray Books, for which he enlisted Coulton as musical director, performing songs that related to the subject of each talk.

The September 2005 issue of Popular Science magazine was accompanied by Coulton's downloadable EP covering scientific subjects called Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms. He was listed in the magazine's masthead as "Contributing Troubadour." That month he simultaneously quit his day job at the software company and announced his intent to make a living solely from the profits of his musical endeavors, despite not being signed to a label. He achieved this with the debut of his "Thing a Week" project, giving himself the motivational deadline of one week to record each song; he spent the next year recording 52 tracks and posting them one by one on www.jonathancoulton.com. He let people listen to the songs for free as well as selling MP3s and CDs, discovering that the fans would still pay for them as he slowly built a devoted audience. He was helped when several of his songs -- especially a slow, acoustic cover of "Baby Got Back" and songs with especially geeky subjects like the mad scientist love song "Skullcrusher Mountain" and the office zombie memo "Re: Your Brains" -- gained Internet popularity.

These songs were released under the terms of a Creative Commons License that not only allowed listeners to legally copy them and pass them on to their friends, but to use them in projects of their own. Videos of his songs made with footage from computer games and cartoons became popular on YouTube, spreading his popularity by word-of-blog until he became something of a geek-rock phenomenon by the time he concluded the series with triumphant covers of Queen's We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You. After polling the fans the "Thing a Week" had brought him, he was able to play live concerts targeting the areas where enough of them lived to sell out a venue, performing short and focused out of the way tours that were profitable enough, along with his digital sales and merchandise, to earn him more money than his old day job had.

In 2007 his song "Code Monkey," inspired by his time working as a software engineer, was chosen to be the theme song of G4's cartoon Code Monkeys and "Still Alive," written for the computer game Portal, won the Game Audio Network's Song of the Year award. He also performed on The Daily Show and contributed guest appearances to nerdcore albums like MC Frontalot's Final Boss and MC Lars' This Gigantic Robot Kills. In 2010, Coulton began opening shows for They Might Be Giants, and later that year announced that he would be working with John Flansburgh on a new album. The result was his eighth album, Artificial Heart, which was Coulton's first album to be produced by someone other than the singer/songwriter himself. ~ Jody Macgregor, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Wish he'd update the presidents song.
Deckle freckle so your "still alive"
I don't believe you because I read this a month ago
whwhosyourda d d y
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
Double tap: re your brains
parkeemi
I was listening to Creepy Doll at midnight the first time I heard it, the beginning scared the crap out of me.
For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life
vectorbr
He should get back in the music business.
Jonathan Coulton is the best
jmcardamone
I feel like a creepy doll is watching me don't you ever feel like this? Oh and post this what I'm about to say→we need a blank station and be able to add a song to it only the song and be able to listen to that song and u can add us favorite songs! Post this and maybe Pandora may like this and do that. I made this up!
jmcardamone
The moron 1 below me is wrong i m alive for months. The douche 3 comments below me is a douche.
Don't read this because it acctually works. You will be kissed on the nearest friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post it this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and you lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it work
benjamin.mar s h a l l 6 2 9 8 3 2
the guy nicoldoeon 2 below me is an unintelligib l e moron. no offense of course
nawillia998
Left 4 dead
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed in the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works.
I myself love Space Doggity. It's definitely my favorite song ever. Then I love Skullcrusher Mountain, I feel Fantastic, Creepy Doll, ''RE: Eat Your Brains, Tom Cruise Crazy, need I go on?? Also,if you don't know Molly Lewis, you should.
GLaDOS should use her takers for something more productive, like making fat kids skinny
Great song
I wonder who's singing this version. Sounds kinda like Ellen McClain without a voice modulation thing.
ggkrieger
I play world of warcraft, the songs "re your brains" and "code monkey" are iconic to that game and his popularity, yet it isn't mentioned in the bio, that is f**ked up, I'm a W.O.W. junkie so......
ethanthepeng u i n . k a n e
I'm sorry, but it just doesn't sound the same without Ellen McClain singing it.
meh
kathryn.dieb e l
I want to hear the whole Happy Together Turtles song! You sound great! :)
JoCo is a big fan of TMBG and has cited them as one of his biggest influences. John Flansburgh of TMBG produced JoCo's album Artificial Heart. Drummer Marty Beller has also worked both TMBG and JoCo.
rufusraygami n g
I never realized how similar TMBG and JoCo were until now. :o
But I'll still feel so alone..
If u like this song add me
Lol
Left for dead 2 Easter egg
Funny
GLADOS IS A ZOMBIE! She eats brains and is still alive ahhhg!
The light come on, and so I smile wide and say:
Good morning, Tucson!
travyt830
All we wanna do is eat ur brains!!!!!!
This is one of the best artists ever. All hail Left 4 Dead 2 (I.E. Re Your Brains)
ALL HAIL PORTAL1 AND 2!!!!! BEST GAMES EVER!!! (trailing behind in 3rd is Skyrim and 4th is ... What ever you say)
So, This is what the world has come to....
I cried at the end of Portal 2. I cried. I cried and cried and cried and cried
I love this song! I sing it at school and everyone freaks out. I just laugh at 'em.
I love listening to this while playing Portal! Too fun!
Don't Make me go over there
i love the song eat your brains
poodleskye
I walk around mumble-singi n g re: your brains and people in the street look at me like I'm an escaped mental patient.
Lol, Code Monkeys was so catchy. A couple guys at the last company I worked for decided it was the official song for the office. They added the nice touches of Tab and Mountain Dew on a table in the center of the office.
dr worm
Here is an FYI: your all gona die screaming!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
slave_luvs_m a s t e r
His President song and Code Monkey are probably the best things ever.
NERDCORE (apperantly)
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