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Jonathan Coulton was born December 1, 1970 and is an American singer-songwriter, famous for his songs containing themes of geek culture as well as his rise to popularity through the use of the Internet.
A former computer programmer and self-described geek, Coulton tends to write quirky, witty lyrics about a variety of topics such as science fiction and technology: a man who thinks in simian terms, a mad scientist who falls in love with one of his captives, and the dangers of bacteria. He does not often write topical songs, but he did release a song titled "W's Duty", which sampled President George W. Bush, in 2005 and another called "Tom Cruise Crazy" in 2006. Most of Coulton's songs feature Coulton's vocals accompanied by guitar, bass, and drums, though they often feature the various other instruments Coulton plays, including accordion, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, or glockenspiel.
A graduate of Yale and former member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs and the Yale Spizzwinks(?), he is now the Contributing Troubadour at Popular Science magazine, whose September 2005 issue was accompanied by a five-song set by him called Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms. He is also the Musical Director for The Little Gray Book Lectures.Coulton's best known works include his light-acoustic cover of the Sir Mix-a-Lot hit song "Baby Got Back" and original pieces such as "Still Alive", the theme song for the video game Portal, and "Code Monkey", which has been featured on Slashdot on April 23, 2006 as well as linked from the webcomic Penny Arcade.It is currently the theme song for an animated show on G4 called Code Monkeys. A video set to his song "Re: Your Brains" was a featured link on Good Morning Silicon Valley. His work has also been featured on NPR's All Things Considered.
Coulton accompanied John Hodgman on his list of "700 Hobo Names" promotional track for Hodgman's book The Areas of My Expertise as the guitarist (he was referenced as "Jonathan William Coulton, the Colchester Kid" in said work). Coulton also can be heard throughout the audiobook version of the same book, playing the theme song to the book, playing incidental music, and at times engaging in witty banter with Hodgman, who reads the audio version of his work. Coulton has also been referenced in Hodgman's work with The Daily Show; a Jonathan Coulton of Colchester, Connecticut is Hodgman's pick to win an essay contest on overpowering Iraqi resistance to American invasion.The winning entry, as set to music, was then played on the program; this song, about dropping snakes from airplanes, was written and performed by Coulton. He is currently participating with the tour for Hodgman's newest book, More Information Than You Require.
Coulton also has released other songs under "The Little Gray Book Lectures". In 2006, Coulton began touring with and co-wrote a song with comedy-duo Paul and Storm entitled "Your Love Is", which appeared on their album News to Us. They have since toured together almost exclusively, rarely appearing with any other artists.
Coulton wrote and performed a song titled "Still Alive" for the ending credits of Valve's 2007 video game Portal, with vocals by Ellen McLain. On April 1, 2008, Harmonix made this track available as free downloadable content for the game Rock Band.A version with Coulton's vocals was also included on the Orange Box Original Soundtrack,in addition to the one heard at the end of the game.
While he was originally working on songs for a new album, titled The Aftermath, Coulton has since decided to forego the album structure, releasing new songs as he can. Also, a DVD & CD of a concert performed February 22, 2008 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, entitled "Best. Concert. Ever." was released in 2009. At the concert, Coulton played the aforementioned song "Still Alive" on its Rock Band version, along with guest "musicians" and geek/celebrities Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann and Veronica Belmont.