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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Artificial Heart

1. Sticking It To Myself

2. Artificial Heart

3. Nemeses

4. The World Belongs To You

5. Today With Your Wife

6. Sucker Punch

7. Glasses

8. Je Suis Rick Springfield

9. Alone At Home

10. Fraud

11. Good Morning Tucson

12. Now I Am An Arsonist

13. Down Today

14. Dissolve

15. Nobody Loves You Like Me

16. Still Alive

17. Want You Gone

18. The Stache

x

Track List: Best. Concert. Ever.

Disc 1

1. The Future Soon (Live)

2. Ikea (Live)

3. Shop Vac (Live)

4. I'm Your Moon (Live)

5. Baby Got Back (Live)

6. Kenesaw Mountain Landis (Live)

7. Chiron Beta Prime (Live)

8. Tom Cruise Crazy (Live)

9. Code Monkey (Live)

10. Creepy Doll (Live)

11. Still Alive (Live)

12. Mr. Fancy Pants (Live)

13. I Crush Everything (Live)

14. Skullcrusher Mountain (Live)

15. Mandlebrot Set (Live)

16. You Ruined Everything (Live)

17. Re: Your Brains (Live)

18. A Talk With George (Live)

19. I Feel Fantastic (Live)

20. First Of May (Live)

Disc 2
x

Track List: Thing A Week Three

1. Madalaine

2. When You Go

3. Code Monkey

4. The Presidents

5. Just As Long As Me

6. Till The Money Comes

7. Tom Cruise Crazy

8. Famous Blue Raincoat

9. Soft Rocked By Me

10. Not About You

11. Rock And Roll Boy

12. Drinking With You

13. Pizza Day

x

Track List: Thing A Week Four

1. Skymall

2. Sea Horse

3. Creepy Doll

4. Under The Pines

5. Big Bad World One

6. Mr. Fancy Pants

7. You Ruined Everything

8. I'm Your Moon

9. The Big Boom

10. Make You Cry

11. Pull The String

12. Summer's Over

13. We Will Rock You

14. We Are The Champions

x

Track List: Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow

1. The Future Soon

2. Skullcrusher Mountain

3. I Crush Everything

4. Betty And Me

5. Mandelbrot Set

x

Track List: Smoking Monkey

1. I'm Having A Party

2. Bozo's Lament

3. Kenesaw Mountain Landis

4. Ikea

5. I Hate California

6. Christmas Is Interesting

7. Over There

8. Millionaire Girlfriend

9. First Of May

10. De-Evolving

11. I'm A Mason Now

12. Overhead

Comments

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Lol Jonathan Colton is a Ikea-sky mall shopping code monkey with fancy pants who wants to eat your brains XD
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bwahahaha
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4ocelot
Joco is an evil genius zombie cyborg fractal-lovi n g code monkey with fancy pants who uses Skymall and lives in Ikea.
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ctsheldons
PORTAL!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Code Monkey is my dad lol
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Code monkey











All he wanna do is eat your brains
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Creepy Doll is one of my favorites.
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dlmoniz0
CODE MONKEY
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I was here at this concert
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ALL WE WANT TO DO IS EAT YOUR BRAINS
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CODE MONKEY������
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I'll join In D&D anytime
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D&D? When and where?
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����
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��
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��
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Btw follow for follow
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Makes me cry and laugh
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This song is on it
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Love this song, love left 4 dead 2
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This guy man... This guy is the definition of Awesome!
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austeo1602
Jonathan coulton is DA best!!
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If we are conversating with the awesome, cyborg, zombie , creepy doll owner,, rock on bro!!!!! Your awesome!!!! I really hope you read this!!! Next to Aerosmith and weird al, you in my top three!!!!!!! You rock bro!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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austeo1602
I love re your brains
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I heard this in left 4 dead 2
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taypastry
its ok I don't stalk any of u to much
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Code Monkey Live is the sweetest thing. Just light percussion and a relaxed tempo. I'm so glad I get to listen to your music. It encourages me to stay happy and weird. :-D
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mommy2hjc
Creepy doll (eyes WIDE OPEN) I'm just fine
(Not really)
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My mom and dad had dinner with u at a hotel where u and a bunch of guys dressed up as zombies sang re your brains!!!!!! ! !
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I love you. I love your songs!
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I love you and your kinda cute
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I like re your brains. It makes me want to dance
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FYI your all gonna die! I mean we're not unreasonable we aren't going to eat your eyes! Lol
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Shop vac
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We'll all come inside and eat your brains!
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I love your songs
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tadstudios
Awesome. I love Skullcrusher Mountain and The Future Now
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paughqets
my steak tastes better when i take my steak-taste- b e t t e r pill
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Omg... Listened to Creepy Doll.... I don't want to go to bed... Oh wait... IM ABOUT TO GO TO BED!!!!!
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GOOP
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I freaking love this guy. The fact that he did Companion cubes song, is just fantastic.
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Add lyrics please o-o
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henningeraar o n
I'll be with the shopvac
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Wish he'd update the presidents song.
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Deckle freckle so your "still alive"
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I don't believe you because I read this a month ago
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Double tap: re your brains
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I was listening to Creepy Doll at midnight the first time I heard it, the beginning scared the crap out of me.
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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
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vectorbr
He should get back in the music business.
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