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March 16, 2008

Still Alive

screen shot from Portal

For a little while now one of the songs in heaviest rotation in my personal music universe has been a soft, haunting ballad sung by a computer program. It's a tune called "Still Alive" from the video game Portal. As I understand it(*), in the game you take the role of test subjects, trying out a hyper-advanced new gun that blasts holes through the space-time continuum. As you move through progressively more hairy test courses you receive instructions, snide comments and encouragement ("If you live, there will be cake") from an artificial intelligence robot with a flat synthesized female voice. (Here's a trailer of the game). Make it all the way to the end, and the AI bot serenades you with "Still Alive" as the closing credits roll.

The song was composed by Jonathan Coulton, who's picked up a bit of minor cult fame for it, including performing it last week for a crowd at SXSW. The song is also going to be included as a number in the popular video game Rock Band.

Meanwhile, I find myself charmed by the song's mix of melancholy and optimism. Now, it times of struggle, I say to myself, "You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake."

Listen to "Still Alive"

(*) Disclaimer: I've never actually played Portal since I don't have a high end game console or a PC. Lame, but then you don't have a working SX-70 and Apple Newton.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at March 16, 2008 08:33 AM


You do NOT have an Apple Newton.
This song is some kind of female response to all your base.

Posted by: Sue at March 19, 2008 03:14 AM