6 of Jonathon Coulton’s Geekiest Songs
Creator of Portal’s End Tune, “Still Alive,” Coulton’s Music is Super Geeky
If penning the ending tune to the hit video game, Portal, wasn’t a big enough clue that Jonathon Coulton is a major geek, then how about singing it with Felicia Day at PAX 2008? Much of JoCo’s music is about science, technology, and monsters, but here’s a look at six of his geekiest songs:
1. The Future Soon
Ah, young love…What young geek hasn’t suffered the ignominy of telling someone you like them only for them to rebuff you? But the singer of this song doesn’t fret. He knows that while things might not be great right now, it’ll be the future soon, and in the future he’ll be a cyborg scientist. Once he’s trained his robot army (doing his best to instill in them a sanctity for life), then he’ll get the girl! (Or she’ll lose her eyes in a robot war and he’ll have to chase here down. Either one.)
2. Chiron Beta Prime
Speaking of robots, you ever wonder what happens to humanity after the robotic uprising? Coulton has too. Written as a Christmas letter to the family, the main characters work as miners on the asteroid, Chiron Beta Prime (where they were banished by the robot council). Now they labor amid ammonia-scented snow, overseen by giant robot Santa Clauses (armed, of course, and sporting glowing red eyes). They’d like you to visit, please, before—MESSAGE REDACTED
3. Mandelbrot Set
Math! What’s geekier than singing about the Peano Space and the Koch Curve? (Plus the Cantor Ternary Set?) Full disclosure, I have no idea what any of those things mean. But I bet Benoit Mandelbrot does! (Or did, rather. Sadly he has died since the song was written.) But no matter. True to the song’s lyrics, Mr. Mandelbrot was a famous mathematician who did famous work with fractals. (And who doesn’t love looking at those things?)– Then again, don’t stare at them too long or you’ll fry your brain.
4. Re: Your Brains
Then again, the singer of this song might not mind if you fry your brain. Or scramble it. Maybe a nice honey glaze with a side of steamed vegetables…mmm…BRAINSSSS… Oops, sorry, got carried away. Set in an abandoned mall (now where have I seen that before?) with a curious Office Space theme, the singer is Bob, a zombiefied former colleague of a guy named Tom. Really, he’d just like to have a nice, civilized discussion, maybe eat some people’s brains, nothing crazy. That’s not so much to ask, right?
5. Code Monkey
This entry, like many of JoCo’s songs, is about longing and rejection. Which sounds kind of depressing, sure, but those are relatable feelings. We all dream of being with someone who likes us and working at a place where we’re valued (if we don’t picture ourselves at the beach instead). That’s what Code Monkey is about, a programmer (the titular “code monkey”) who has feelings for the receptionist where he works. Code Monkey isn’t as out there as some of JoCo’s other songs, but it’s still pretty awesome. (Plus, this video was made in WOW by Spiff, who’s made some other great JoCo videos.)
6. Skullcrusher Mountain
Entry number six brings us around full circle. We started off the list with a young man dreaming of getting the girl he loves through mad science, and mad science is what Skullcrusher Mountain is all about. As the lyrics show, the singer is well aware he’s one short of a full deck— “Even my henchmen think I’m crazy,” he sings. “I’m not surprised that you agree.” But he likes this young woman, and isn’t that sweet? Except he attempts to show his affection by making a half-pony, half-monkey monster to please her. Turns out she doesn’t like it. Who would have thought? (Besides, well, everyone.)
So that’s it, six of Jonathon Coulton’s geekiest songs. True, JoCo has written a LOT more than six geeky songs (check them out at his wiki) but these are six of the geekiest. If you have a favorite tune of Mr. Coulton’s that I haven’t mentioned, post a comment below! I want to hear about it.