Video: Nobody Loves You Like Me

November 11th, 2011

As promised, here’s the next installment of the Jonathan Coulton video explosion, the official video for Nobody Loves You Like Me.

I’ve described this before, but since I’m sure people will ask, I’m singing into an audio plugin called The Mouth. I don’t know specifically what this particular setting is doing to my vocal, but it sounds to me like it’s interpreting the frequency content of the input and mapping that to a spread across several different octaves of the same note. So it creates an accompanying voice in multiple octaves of a single note. I control what that note is via midi, in this case using my monome (using it in the most boring way possible, to play midi notes, which is SHAMEFUL, but it sure does have pretty lights).

The red cowboy shirt does not affect the audio in any way.

So Many Things

November 8th, 2011

It’s awfully quiet here on this blog, but only because I’ve had my head down doing stuff. I barely have time to leverage social media platforms to enhance my brand! Here are some things I think you should know:

NUMBER ONE
Today, November 8th, is the official release date for the Artificial Heart CD. It should be available now at Amazon and at other CD-buying places (I actually don’t know where those places are – “stores” maybe?). I have noticed that the title is misspelled on Amazon, which is GREAT. They’re fixing it.

NUMBER TWO
You brave and generous souls who pre-ordered the signed CD (Level Two Participants) should receive your CDs very soon, as in, this week (unless you’re in a far away country in which case it might take a bit longer). The warehouse monkeys tell me that they started sending them out yesterday. My hand is tired from signing them, but my heart is full of your love. Thank you.

Level Three will go out as soon as the shirts are done, looking like a couple weeks. Level Four will go out as soon as everything is done, still looking like early December. Thank you all for your patience.

NUMBER THREE
One of the things that has been keeping me so busy is that I have been making music videos. This isn’t like me at all – I couldn’t even remember how to log into my YouTube channel. Flansburgh and I made a bunch of them at once, and I think they all came out pretty great. Today I posted one for Nemeses that features John Roderick singing next to me on an iPhone:

And also one for Still Alive, the new version on Artificial Heart that’s sung by the delightful Sara Quin:

Yesterday Hodgman posted one of the two of us doing our classic ukulele/guitar duet of Tonight You Belong to Me (not on the album, but you know, what the hey):

And there are plenty more coming. With the exception of Still Alive, which was done months ago when we were recording the album, all these videos are also brand new live recordings of the songs, simple arrangements done as we were shooting. So eventually you’ll see videos of ALL NEW LIVE versions of Today with Your Wife, Sticking It to Myself, Nobody Loves You Like Me, Down Today, and Je Suis Rick Springfield.

NUMBER FOUR
As sad as I am to not be traveling with my friend John Hodgman on his book tour, I’m delighted to be out on the road again with They Might Be Giants. We’re west coasting it now, Vancouver tonight, Seattle, Portland, you know the rest. Come on out and see us – check my schedule for details.

NUMBER FIVE
And by the way, Hodgman’s new book is absolutely fantastic and you should all buy it and read it. I don’t know anything about an audio book version, though I suspect and hope that he’ll do one and invite me to participate. If you get the chance you should really go out and see one of his readings – and calling them readings fails to fully prepare you for the fact that they are entertainment spectaculars. Honestly, he’s at the top of his game these days, and probably the descent into booze and pills is just around the corner. So don’t miss it.

NUMBER SIX
Rock Band versions of a few select songs from Artificial Heart are coming.

NUMBER SEVEN
The cruise is still happening, in spite of all the other things that would satisfy any normal human as Enough Things Happening Already. It’s going to be great. If you’re still on the fence about joining us, you should know that the ship is filling up fast, and we’re running out of our allotment of rooms. So don’t sit on the fence for too long, or you will fall into the ocean!

I think that’s all. Is that everything?

Artificial Heart – Last Chance Today

October 5th, 2011

If you were on the mailing list, you would have received the following announcement:

Attention citizens of planet Earth:

I’m writing to let you know that today is the last chance to purchase one of the Artificial Heart bundles. At midnight tonight I’ll be closing sales for good, so I can get to the business of actually sending everything out. Inevitably there will be someone who doesn’t hear about this in time and feels sad that they missed it, but that is the way of things. After sales are closed, the album will be available for purchase in digital form through my regular store and it is in fact already available at iTunes, Amazon, Rdio, etc. (Spotify coming soon I hear – they have a backlog). If you or someone you know needs to have one of these once in a lifetime awesome things, here is the place to make that happen:

http://bit.ly/pdYyZE

In other news, I want to thank everyone who came out to see me open for They Might Be Giants in September on the first leg of their Join Us tour. What a blast! Big, excitable crowds, loud rock music, every show a delight. I will be back for more in November (see list of shows below).

To answer a couple FAQs about my touring schedule:
I don’t know yet about the They Might Be Giants shows that I am not listed on as the opener. This includes the Tulsa makeup show, the January/February leg, and a bunch of other odds and ends. You should consult my site and the TMBG site to figure out if I’m opening for any given show. And chances are if those sites say I’m not opening, that means either I’m not opening or I don’t know yet – believe me, I am not keeping these things secret. The only sure things right now are on the list below. And yes, at some point I will do my own shows again, with the standard eight hour set list that you have all become used to.

To answer a couple FAQs about the bundles:
Level 2 is easy enough to ship out since it’s just a signed CD, so that will happen first. I’m hoping to get those out to everyone in the next couple of weeks. I had to wait until orders were mostly done so I’d have some idea of shirt quantities, so Level 3 is going to take a little longer while I wait for them to get made – more news soon. Level 4 is still up in the air, it’s likely that they won’t ship until end of November at the earliest – yes, it’s killing me too. But there’s at least one item in there that I haven’t told you about that has a super long lead time, but I think is going to be pretty cool to have. I have plans to do fun things will all you Level 4 folks and your nemeses while we wait, so I’m hopeful that you will feel like you’re getting your money’s worth even before you get the box itself. If ever you are too annoyed by all this and you just want your damned money back, just let me know.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased and/or said nice things about Artificial Heart. I hear that today it’s on the iTunes “Rock on the Rise” list, which is kind of exciting. It’s also getting airplay on a few actual radio stations, also exciting. I have already purchased a few private jets in anticipation of it going quadruple platinum. Think ahead, that’s my motto!

Here’s the next round of touring. Let’s learn those new songs, people!

Nov 4 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot

http://bit.ly/join-us-slc

Nov 5 Boise, ID – Knitting Factory

http://ticketf.ly/join-us-boise

Nov 6 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory

http://ticketf.ly/join-us-spokane

Nov 8 Vancouver, BC – Venue

http://bit.ly/join-us-vancouverbc

Nov 9 Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

http://bit.ly/join-us-seattle

Nov 10 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom

http://bit.ly/join-us-portland

Nov 11 Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

http://bit.ly/join-us-arcata

Nov 12 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore

http://bit.ly/join-us-san-fran12th

Nov 13 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore

http://bit.ly/join-us-san-fran13th

Nov 16 Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

http://bit.ly/join-us-anaheim

Nov 17 San Diego, CA – Belly Up

http://bit.ly/join-us-san-diego

Talk to you soonish,

-j

Thing a Week 52: We Will Rock You/We Are the…

October 4th, 2011



Thing a Week 52: We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions

Unbelievably, we are here. Thanks to all of you who sent in hand claps – every one of them is in there. It was very charming how almost all of you apologized for the quality of the recording, and suggested that I just throw it away and forget about it if it was unusable. I have taught you well – always, ALWAYS doubt yourself.

I’m sad and relieved that it’s the end. It’s been a really amazing trip from 1 to 52, and I can’t thank all of you enough for the many different kinds of support you’ve offered me over this last year. If you bought a CD, if you bought a song, if you sent a donation, if you drew a picture, if you made a video, if you stole a song and passed it along to a friend, if you babysat while I recorded vocals, even if you just wrote me to tell me you like the music, you are one of the reasons that this lasted a whole year. The difference between my life then and my life now is enormous, and it’s all because of you. And while the standard rich and famous contract continues to elude me, in the ways that really matter I am filthy, stinking rich.

Thank you.

PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: The audacity! The nice thing about covering a song like this is that it takes the pressure off - you can always blame your failure to excel on the original being so iconic and irreplaceable. Though I think we did pretty well all things considered. Getting the hand claps from everyone felt absolutely correct, and the scope of the song is huge and epic, which seemed important. Once I’d hit on this as the final song, I couldn’t think of anything that fit better.

I couldn’t get the boom claps right, so I got them wrong in a different way. There are plenty of mix and arrangement problems I can hear, but boy was I tired of solving those! I love the way it veers into the instrumental section at the end of We Will Rock You with the slide guitar and the sweeping vocals. The slow picky arrangement of We Are the Champions works pretty well I think, and the understated nature of it gives the whole thing a fresh coat of poignant. Arranging it as a sad song is somewhat predictable given my tendencies, but still appropriate. It’s always sounded to me like a slightly depressing, “non-victory” victory song. “No time for losers cuz we are the champions of the world” - sounds a lot like a Jonathan Coulton character to me. Pathetic but proud, no self-knowledge, tragically sure of himself. Possibly a monkey or a robot (technically, you can’t tell if it is a monkey or robot or not, I’m just saying).

Just like in Thing a Week five years ago, here I am at the end and I’ve already said a tearful goodbye last week. What a relief! I’m not sure what to say, except thank you again and again and again. There was no reason at all to suspect that this ridiculous plan was going to work. The only reason it did was because of the various kinds of support I got from complete strangers all over the web and all over the world. I am grateful, always.

It’s a strange time for musicians and the business that lives around them. It’s a simple truth that For Sale competes with Free in the digital realm. That’s just the way it is. We don’t get to decide if it’s good for us or not, because we’ve already demonstrated that this is the way we want things to work. So now we have to figure out what to do.

In my experience, For Sale wins often enough that it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the Free side. This may not be true for everyone. You could argue that people only pay for things because the iTunes store came along and made it slightly easier to buy than to steal. You could suggest that the only reason it works for me is because I write funny songs about monkeys and robots. You could predict that in ten years, the downward trend of the value of a song in mp3 form will lead us to a place where music is free. I might grant you all of those things, but I still think we’re going to be fine. Music isn’t going away - it was here long before we figured out a way to make money from it, and it will be here at least until the day we all upload our brains into the giant universe-shaped computer and disappear. The music business is an accident, a side-effect, an unintended consequence; music comes from humans.

I’m immensely proud of Thing a Week, partially because of what I accomplished, but more because of what WE accomplished. My plan, if you can call it that, was to concede victory to Free at the start. You guys pay me anyway, almost as if you “like music” and “want to support musicians.” Dummies.

Thank you for everything.

You can find more info on this song, a store where you can listen to everything, and also other stuff at jonathancoulton.com.

Artificial Heart Bundles – LAST CHANCE

September 30th, 2011

Guys, guys! Thank you so much for your overwhelming support with these Artificial Heart bundles. You’ve exceeded my expectations, as usual, and I am as grateful as a boy could be. Some news on this front:

I’m closing sales on all levels this Wednesday at midnight. At the same time I’ll be moving Artificial Heart to the standard store page here on my site. I don’t want any sad people to find out about these fantastic bundle purchase opportunities only after they’re gone, so if there’s anyone you know who should purchase these things, let them know that time is running out. Inevitably, and in spite of your best efforts, someone will tweet at 12:01 AM Thursday morning “OMG! I missed out! I wish I had known!” It’s just how these things go.

The album should now be available in most digital online stores, though I’m getting reports that the title is misspelled in a few places. Which is fantastic news! Gah! If you can’t find it in your favorite digital music store, you may want to search for Jonathan Coulton and then click on the album “Artifical Heart” [sic]. Jeepers creepers people.

For those of you who have purchased a bundle and have questions about shirt sizes, address changes, upgrades and the like, in theory Scarface should have gotten back to you via email. If not, let us know. We’re planning on giving everyone a chance to confirm shipping address and shirt sizes before we mail these things out. I’m choosing a shirt brand this coming week (it’s likely to be similar to American Apparel in fit and quality) and will let everyone know what that is and post sizing charts before asking you to reconfirm your size choices. You’ll be allowed to choose different sizes for different shirts. I don’t want any unhappy customers.

The Level Four box is going to be awesome. It will contain some surprise items. It will be a classy collectors edition type situation and you will be the envy of all your friends if you have one. I don’t have a timeline yet, but will let you know as soon as I have a likely ship date. In the meantime, you Level Four folks will soon have access to other fun stuff that is not in the box. We will entertain ourselves while we wait.

Speaking of which, has anyone figured out what all the symbols mean yet? Because I have.