I discovered Jonathan Coulton probably the same way many of us did, through a video game. The Video Game in question, Portal via the Orange Box release from Valve. I didn’t buy that particular game for Portal, in fact I don’t know that anyone really did, I bought it because it contained not only Half Life 2 but also the first two episodes of DLC content as well. In addition to HL2 and the expansions we also got a multiplayer game called Team Fortress 2 and, of course Portal.
Portal (which I blame entirely on the absence of Half Life episode 3 or Half Life 3 itself. but that is a rant for another time), is a a clever puzzle game that takes place in the HL universe but instead of fighting off aliens and such you are fighting against a megalomaniac science computer named GLaDOS. If you happen to finish the game you will be presented with a fun end credits song entitled Still Alive. Here, in case you need to hear it…which you do.
Instantly I was enamored with this song and, determined to know who did it I was led to the person who’s music we are talking about today one, Jonathan Coulton (Or JoCo as he is known to his fans). Soon I dove in to his work and found not only a clever song writer but a fellow geek who wore his geek badge with pride. He was one of my kind and I loved everything he sang about.
Why This Album?
The album I picked today is not his best but it is the best representation of his work overall. This is the perfect primer album for anyone who has never heard of JoCo or his incredible songs. Serving as almost a ‘best of’ compilation, JoCo Looks Back presents us with a little bit of the best JoCo has to offer as of 2008. In this album you will find songs about a furniture company (Ikea), Daily Drugs Use (I feel Fantastic), Insane Celebrities (Tom Cruise Crazy), Horror Stories (Creepy Doll) and much much more. Every time you think you found a favorite on this album the next track plays and your list changes once again. I mean seriously, it is a total blast to listen to.
This is an album I love putting on and just enjoying. It’s a great one to sing along with, to use as background music or just to drive around to. While he could be considered to be in the same vein as Weird Al or Doctor Demento, JoCo is more than that. Sure his songs are mostly humorous, but they also present a great insight into geek culture and life in general. This is a guy who on one track sings about Zombies and on another about a dysfunctional suburban life yet all the while maintaining a pretty great sense of humor about it. I guess my best comparison would be that of Ben Folds but with a better sense of humor.
Seriously though, check out Jonathan Couton in some form. Trust me, you might dig him.
Shop Vac: You know that song about dysfunctional suburban life. yeah this is it.
Creepy Doll. Man I love this song sooooo much. It’s creepy but good in a Beetlejuice sort of way.
Every once in a while JoCo writes a love song that kind of breaks the mold he built for himself. That is where I’m Your Moon comes in. Sure it’s about Pluto but it is an amazing love song nonetheless. This is just a gorgeous song.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Late to the Game 4/14/2020
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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