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Artist

Jonathan Coulton

ON AIR
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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.   Re: Your Brains
  8.   Summer's Over
  9.   Ikea
  10.   Shop Vac
  11.   The Princess Who Saved Herself
  12.   Creepy Doll
  13.   Want You Gone
  14.   The Future Soon
  15.   First of May
  16.   The World Belongs to You
  17.   I Feel Fantastic
  18.   Someone Is Crazy
  19.   Curl
  20.   The Presidents
  21.   Skymall
  22.   Stroller Town
  23.   A Talk with George
  24.   Chiron Beta Prime
  25.   You Ruin Everything
  26.   Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  27.   Don't Feed the Trolls
  28.   Ordinary Man
  29.   Pictures of Cats
  30.   You Wouldn't Know by Ellen McLain
  31.   The Stache
  32.   Je Suis Rick Springfield
  33.   Good Morning Tucson
  34.   Dissolve
  35.   Tom Cruise Crazy
  36.   Just as Long as Me
  37.   Famous Blue Raincoat
  38.   Soft Rocked by Me
  39.   Drinking with You
  40.   Mr. Fancy Pants
  41.   You Ruined Everything
  42.   I'm Your Moon
  43.   You Could Be Her
  44.   Flickr
  45.   W's Duty
  46.   Brand New Sucker
  47.   Podsafe Christmas Song
  48.   I Crush Everything
  49.   There You Are
  50.   Pulled Down the Stars
  51.   Brave
  52.   Solid State
  53.   All This Time
  54.   Zombie Instructions
  55.   Blue Sunny Day
  56.   Today with Your Wife
  57.   Sticking It to Myself
  58.   Now I Am an Arsonist by Suzanne Vega
  59.   Nobody Loves You Like Me
  60.   Glasses
  61.   Down Today
  62.   Artificial Heart
  63.   Alone at Home
  64.   When You Go
  65.   Till the Money Comes
  66.   Big Bad World One
  67.   We Will Rock You
  68.   So Far So Good
  69.   The Town Crotch
  70.   Mandelbrot Set
  71.   All to Myself, Pt. 1
  72.   See You All in Hell
  73.   All to Myself, Pt. 2
  74.   Sunshine
  75.   Ball and Chain
  76.   Your Tattoo
  77.   Robots.Txt
  78.   Gratuitous Applause
  79.   Fraud
  80.   Madelaine
  81.   Not About You
  82.