Slacker Logo


Jonathan Coulton

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 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
Read More Read Less

Stations Featuring
Jonathan Coulton

Albums by
Jonathan Coulton

Top Songs by
Jonathan Coulton

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

Artists Related to Jonathan Coulton