"I find it hard to write about myself—or to write from a personal point of view. So the way I get around that is by writing from the perspective of a giant squid."
A primarily internet-based musician who writes songs on all sorts of stuff, though his more popular songs tend to cater to the nerd or pop-culture crowd. You probably know him best as the writer of Portal
''s ending song, "Still Alive". He also gained fame before that for his "Thing-A-Week" series of albums, wherein he challenged himself to write and record one song a week for an entire year, and actually did it
Notable for being one of the first musicians to fully embrace the online model of earning money for his songs - most of his songs are available free on his website
, if you want to dig through his blog, but they're also all for sale through a variety of media. He also uses the Internet to gauge where to perform - if enough fans petition him, he'll plan a concert for you.
He often performs with Paul and Storm
, and has done collaborations with MC Frontalot
. He has been involved in several RiffTrax
, including playing some songs before the live Plan 9 from Outer Space
. He's the resident musician on the NPR
game show Ask Me Another
. He is also the "Official Contributing Troubadour" of Popular Science
magazine, and sang the opening theme for their podcast. He also has a handful of songs featured in Rock Band
. He's also long-time friends with John Hodgman, has written songs for Hodgman's book tours (which he often participates in), and has appeared on all three audiobooks for Hodgman's Complete World Knowledge
series. Basically, he's popular, is what we're getting at.
Recently became noted by the media when his rearrangement
of Sir Mix-a-Lot
's "Baby Got Back" was used by Glee
without his permission (to the point of keeping various changes like a duck being used as a Sound Effect Bleep
). And that's all we need to say on it
Coulton is currently working with Comic Book
writer Greg Pak on a comic miniseries/graphic novel based on the characters from many of his songs, named Code Monkey Save World
. The Kickstarter for the project is fully funded and then some, but could still use more love!
- Smoking Monkey (2003)
- Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow (2004)
- Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms (2005)
- Thing A Week One (2006)
- Thing A Week Two (2006)
- Thing A Week Three (2006)
- Thing A Week Four (2006)
- Artificial Heart (2011)
- One Christmas At a Time (2012; with John Roderick)
Tropes Related to this Musician Include:
- Affectionate Parody: His song "Big Dick Farts a Polka" is one for/of his longtime touring partners Paul and Storm. They returned the favor with "Live", which riffs off Coulton's common "Mad Scientist In Love" theme.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: "The Future Soon".
- Anti Christmas Song: "Chiron Beta Prime", framed as a Christmas family letter... after humanity lost a Robot War and the narrator's family has been banished to an asteroid mining colony named Chiron Beta Prime.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: A deleted verse from "Chiron Beta Prime" mentions the robot overl—er, protectors nailing a Santa to a crucifix. Sound too outlandish to be true? A Japanese department store apparently did this in reality.
- Audience Participation Song: Parts of the chorus for "Re: Your Brains." To be sung as zombies.
- Badass Princess: "The Princess Who Saved Herself"
- Blatant Lies: "Not About You"
- Breakup Song: "Not About You" and "Always the Moon" among several others.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: "Tom Cruise Crazy"
- Completely Missing the Point: In-universe - The Evil Overlord from "Skullcrusher Mountain" about love.
- Could Say It But: In "The Presidents":
And I don't like to make political statements
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: His cover of Sir-Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back".
- The Cover Changes The Gender: His cover of Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know" surprisingly averts this, lending an interesting twist to the song.
- Creepy Doll: "Creepy Doll" naturally.
- Don't You Like It?: The Evil Overlord narrating "Skullcrusher Mountain" is trying so hard to please his captive love interest, but doesn't quite understand that she wouldn't like a half-pony, half-monkey monster.
- Driven to Suicide: The vampire in "Blue Sunny Day".
- Evil Overlord: "Skullcrusher Mountain" sung from the perspective of one in love.
- Foe Yay: "Nemeses".
- Gadgeteer Genius: "The Future Soon".
- Gold Digger: "Millionaire Girlfriend" has an average guy daydreaming about having one.
- "Till the Money Comes" is about a guy who hates his wife but decides to hang around until she comes into money so that he can divorce her and take half of it.
- Greatest Hits Album: JoCo Looks Back collects the best of his Thing A Week project.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: "Just As Long As Me"- a folksy song about a Huge Guy who is tired of Tiny Girls and wants a woman of his size for once.
- Hulk Speak: "Code Monkey".
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: "Skullcrusher Mountain"
- Intercourse with You: Subverted in "First of May", we think.... Played straight in "Soft Rocked by Me".
- In The Style Of: Changed the iTunes listing of his "Baby Got Back" cover to a sarcastic "...(In The Style Of Glee)" after they essentially used his arrangement without his permission and told him he should be thankful for the publicity. However, he's donating all proceeds from the sale of the song to the It Gets Better Foundation and VH1 Save The Music as a result.
- I Want My Jetpack: "The Future Soon".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Shop Vac," "Blue Sunny Day," and numerous others.
- Machine Worship: "The Future Soon".
- Mad Scientist: "Skullcrusher Mountain" is probably the best known, though "The Future Soon" and other songs contain similar themes.
- The Man Is Sticking It To The Man: "Sticking It To Myself".
- Manly Tears: "Soft Rocked by Me" has:
Have you ever been in love with a man who's sensitive?
Have you ever spent the night with a man who cries?
Well that's me, I'm sensitive
And I cry, I'm crying right now
In a manly way
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The half pony, half monkey monster from "Skullcrusher Mountain".
- Motor Mouth: "I Feel Fantastic," a song about a guy with a pill for every occasion. Literally.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: His Greatest Hits album is an inversion - Jonathan Coulton's Greatest Hit (Plus 13 Other Songs)
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Scarface.
- Non Indicative Title: "You Ruined Everything" is not a Breakup Song; it's actually a very happy and loving song.
- Noodle Incident: "He brings it up again; the famous apple fritter incident of 2010."
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: His live album "Best. Concert. Ever."
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Code Monkey" is one for the animated sitcom Code Monkeys.
- Rick Roll: He likes to do this in the middle of "Mr. Fancy Pants" thanks to the electric machine he uses for the backing beat.
- Robot Maid: "Todd the T1000" is about a guy who feels threatened by his robot butler.
- Self-Deprecation: See My Friends... and Zoidberg above.
- Stalker with a Crush: Very common theme.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Has done a few, such as "Beds Hurt My Booty".
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Inverted in "First of May".
- Suicide By Sunlight: "Blue Sunny Day".
- Toilet Humor: "Big Dick Farts a Polka".
- The Wiki Rule: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/wiki/Main_Page
- Zombie Apocalypse: "Re: Your Brains"