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Artist

Jonathan Coulton

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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
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Stations Featuring
Jonathan Coulton


Albums by
Jonathan Coulton

Top Songs by
Jonathan Coulton

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Baby Got Back
  3.   I Will
  4.   Skullcrusher Mountain
  5.   Code Monkey
  6.   Still Alive
  7.   Ikea
  8.   Re: Your Brains
  9.   Chiron Beta Prime
  10.   Sticking It to Myself
  11.   First of May
  12.   The Princess Who Saved Herself
  13.   I Feel Fantastic
  14.   Creepy Doll
  15.   My Monkey
  16.   I Crush Everything
  17.   Big Bad World One
  18.   Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  19.   You Wouldn't Know by Ellen McLain
  20.   The World Belongs to You
  21.   The Stache
  22.   Mr. Fancy Pants
  23.   We Will Rock You
  24.   A Talk with George
  25.   Flickr
  26.   Shop Vac
  27.   Drive
  28.   Mandelbrot Set
  29.   Blue Sunny Day
  30.   Want You Gone
  31.   Now I Am an Arsonist by Suzanne Vega
  32.   Je Suis Rick Springfield
  33.   Good Morning Tucson
  34.   Glasses
  35.   Fraud
  36.   Dissolve
  37.   Artificial Heart
  38.   Tom Cruise Crazy
  39.   The Presidents
  40.   Soft Rocked by Me
  41.   Pizza Day
  42.   Under the Pines
  43.   You Ruined Everything
  44.   I'm Your Moon
  45.   Pull the String
  46.   Furry Old Lobster
  47.   The Future Soon
  48.   Gratuitous Applause
  49.   Zombie Instructions
  50.   Today with Your Wife
  51.   Nobody Loves You Like Me
  52.   Down Today
  53.   You Ruin Everything
  54.   When You Go
  55.   Till the Money Comes
  56.   Famous Blue Raincoat
  57.   Skymall
  58.   Seahorse
  59.   The Big Boom
  60.   Make You Cry
  61.   We Are the Champions
  62.   Summer's Over
  63.   Don't Talk to Strangers
  64.   Take Care of Me
  65.   So Far So Good
  66.   Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance
  67.   You Could Be Her
  68.   W's Duty
  69.   Brand New Sucker
  70.   The Town Crotch
  71.   Nemeses by John Roderick
  72.   Madelaine
  73.   Not About You
  74.   Stroller Town
  75.   Curl
  76.   Sibling Rivalry
  77.   See You All in Hell
  78.   Podsafe Christmas Song
  79.   Just as Long as Me
  80.   Alone at Home
  81.   Rock and Roll Boy
  82.   Someone Is Crazy
  83.   Resolutions
  84.   Drinking with You

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