Portal: The Skinny

By JoCo October 15, 2007

I’m loving all the swirling rumors and speculations, the secret extraction and youtubing. But now that the game is out I will come clean and reveal the inside story. I will avoid spoilers as much as possible here (though you should not read the lyrics if you really want to be surprised).

The game is called Portal and it is awesome. The song is called “Still Alive” and it plays as part of the end credits when you finish the game. This all came about when a couple of Valve folks came to one of my shows in Seattle long ago, and followed up with me afterwards asking if I’d be interested in working with them in some capacity. I’ve long been a fan of Half-Life, so I said yes yes yes. We got together to talk about a couple of ideas, and somehow we decided it would be a good idea for me to write a song in the voice of one of the characters in the game, something that would sort of tie up the story arc at the end.

The character is this hilarious passive aggressive personality, which is obviously a perfect subject for me. I write about that sort of thing all the time. I got an advance copy of the game when it was nearly finished, played through it, talked with the writers, and tried to get inside this character’s head as best I could. I bought my first ukulele specifically to record this song, it just seemed right for it. (Or maybe I wrote the song that way so I could buy a ukulele, hard to say.)

I recorded a version with some scratch vocals and we sent it to the voice actress who did that character in the game, Ellen McLain. We all went into the studio to record her vocals, then did all the fancy computer sound things they do to make her sound like a computer voice. Ellen’s a classically trained soprano, and a very talented voice actress – she has this character down perfectly, and she did a great job conveying emotion in a non-emotional way. Between her and the very strong writing behind her character’s dialog, it was hard for me to not end up looking good in all this.

Did I mention the game is awesome?

To answer some of your questions:

I believe that Valve has some plans on making this track officially available through Steam and perhaps elsewhere, also maybe a version with me singing the song. I don’t know when that will happen, but sometime soon I’m sure. It’s really their ball game at this point, because they did commission this song from me. I’m not going to interfere with whatever they want to do with it, so I won’t be posting it here.

Lyrics and chords are below (hooray!). Someday I or Valve may also want to make the source tracks available, but that’s further down the line. I have no sheet music, because that is not how the J-Dog rolls.

I’m very happy to have been a part of this – the team of people behind the game, and indeed everyone I’ve met at Valve are all such talented and creative people, and it was a privilege to work with them. Long ago there was a Playstation game called Skullmonkeys that had a great soundtrack and this awesome song about a secret bonus room (both written by a guy named Terry Scott Taylor) that just blew my mind. I’ve always loved the way that song broke the rules about what music in a game is supposed to do, so it was great to have the opportunity to do something fun and unusual like that. Thanks for all your kind comments about it.

The cake is a lie!!!!!


This was a triumph
I’m making a note here: huge success
It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction
Aperture Science
We do what we must because we can
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead
But there’s no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun
For the people who are still alive

I’m not even angry
I’m being so sincere right now
Even though you broke my heart and killed me
And tore me to pieces
And threw every piece into a fire
As they burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you
Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time
So I’m glad I got burned, think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive

Go ahead and leave me
I think I’d prefer to stay inside
Maybe you’ll find someone else to help you
Maybe Black Mesa
That was a joke, ha ha, fat chance
Anyway this cake is great
It’s so delicious and moist
Look at me still talking when there’s science to do
When I look out there it makes me glad I’m not you
I’ve experiments to run, there is research to be done
On the people who are still alive

And believe me I am still alive
I’m doing science and I’m still alive
I feel fantastic and I’m still alive
And while you’re dying I’ll be still alive
And when you’re dead I will be still alive
Still alive
Still alive


D Bm (repeat like crazy)
This was a triumph...

Em              A    
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction

D Bm (repeat like crazy)
Aperture Science...

Em              A    
For the good of all of us

Except the ones who are dead

F                     C          Bb         F
But there's no sense crying over every mistake

F                     C          Bb         F
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake

Gm                     C             F        Dm
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun

Bb                   A         D  Bm (repeat some more)
For the people who are still alive


Adam says

This song was the perfect capstone on a truly brilliant game. Ellen's voicework for GLaDOS, Chet & Erik's writing, and then this funny but heart-wrenching song were all spot-on... to say nothing of the awesome gameplay design behind it all.

PS, saw you in Houston, it was a great show. Pirates notwithstanding.

jesss says

Thanks for laying out all the facts. I, for one, have had a great time watching the buzz on this song grow. I can't get Orange Box (Mac/Wii) so I was really glad to get the YouTube links so I could feel like part of it all.

Dan says

It's definitely one of the best ending sequences in gaming.

It's one of those results that occurs because there are such perfect ingredients going into it - they do a stellar job of developing GLaDOS's character throughout what is at its core not really a character driven game, the gameplay is some of the most innovative stuff ever (and damned fun), and the real key is that they created a character who somehow manages to believably serenade its prodigal test subject throughout the entire end credits sequence.

I hope that Valve follows through with the availability of the track - and I expect them to, as they're one of the better gaming companies out there for making material available. (Publicizing the song is really in everyone's best interests anyway)

The cake... is a lie!

ctishman says

It's funny, as soon as I saw it was you (read the lyric credit on the PA post today), it made perfect sense, as it fits your lyrical style perfectly (it ought to, after all).

Also, Jesss: get Boot Camp and install Windows for Portal alone! I promise it's worth it!

Comrade Canadia says

Awesome song, totally keeping with the brilliant humour of Portal. This perfectly capped what might be one of the smartest, wittiest games I've ever played. So good to see you getting this kind of exposure as well. I hear this Orange Box thing is kind of popular.

Brian says

Our whole community at icrontic.com is in love with your song right now. I've always been a firm believer that the music makes the game (has anyone ever played a game called Alternate Reality from the mid 80's?), and I just had to post here to tell you that your music took an already great game and moved it into the realm of "exceptional". This is one of those things that will go down in history as one of the best game songs ever written :)

Valve sure did something grand with this franchise - just the right mix of game, graphics, character, innovation, and of course - music.

dt says

I'm addicted to the song. When my girlfriend leaves me over the constant repetition of "Look at me talking when there's science to do" can I sue JoCo?

A serious question for the Portal players out there: can I play it on my macbook running WindowsXP under VMWare?

Thanks for the great tunes, JC.

JonXP says

The question is, will you treat us to this song when you're here in Atlanta?

Wim says

You're on EvAv radio tonight? I'll be listening.

SevinPackage says

One of the things I love the most about your songwriting is your ability to write from the perspective of the subject, in a first-person setting. Of course, it always helps to have your sense of humor and emotion, and your special way of expressing those feelings without dumbing it down or holding back.

There's something very satisfying about getting the inside jokes you put in your songs, as well.

Again, congrats on another wonderful song! Thanks for enriching our lives!

Greg says

What an awesome surprise at the end of the game. It was a great and humorously written game, and your song fit in so damn well. I love it - you ROCK.

Meredith says

Love the song, although I won't have the Orange Box till next week. I did, however, hear some people singing "Still Alive" out the in hall this weekend. It was a little strange.

Rufo Sanchez says

I wish I had the songwriting ability to write a song about how much I love this song.


Grant Gould says

I finished Portal thinking, "How could this game possibly be any more awesome?" Then... it gets more awesome.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. You turned an inspired and brilliant game into an inspired, brilliant game with a perfect ending.

The cake is a lie.

flynn says

If this song doesn't go all viral on you within the next few weeks, I'll eat my press badge. To hell with cake, I think we all know what the treat was at the end of Portal...

Ian says

Ukulele? You're gonna put me and Kristen out of a job!

Seriously though, what kind of uke did you get?

Alex says

Ah, this explains what some gamers I know were going on about this morning. I think you may have just made yourself a lot of new fans...

Sobachatina says

I can't stop listening to the song. Well done.

Come to Austin again. You're making it really easy for me to convince all my coworkers to be fans.

Paul says

Perfect end to a perfect game with perfect lyrics, perfect sharps and perfect flats; my gaming moment of the year.

Well done Jonathan.

Adam Black says

The song at the end was the frosting on the cake! ;)

I love how it cements the fact that Aperture Laboratories is the place you go to work when you can't get a job at Black Mesa. Between the song and that eye-gouging powerpoint presentation you stumble across towards the end of the game, it gives a nice sense of "place" to where you've been goofing off with the portal gun all this time.

My wife hates me for playing the song over and over, by the way. But I just can't stop myself.

Mark says


In all honesty I never heard of you till I played Portal and enjoyed the end song so much I done a bit of digging and found your blog (checking for your other tracks ony outube as I type). So I just want to say thanks for an awesome track that kept me watching the credits and you done a superb job.

Thanks again.

The Cheshire Cat says

I read your blog post about how you had a song in the Orange box before it came out, so I knew there was one in there before I heard it. As soon as I beat portal, I went "Ah, this must be it!"

I love this song, I think it nails GLaDOS' personality perfectly, the way she keeps proclaiming "I'm doing science!" as proudly as a computer can, the same way a kid mixing random chemicals together from a chemistry set might, despite there being nothing particularly scientific about what they're doing.

I don't often laugh out loud at games, but I couldn't help it during the credits for Portal. There's just something so RIGHT about ending that game with this song. I wouldn't be surprised if you find gaming sites nominating Portal for "Best soundtrack" at least a couple of times because of this song.

Good work mr. Coulton!

maliceinwonderland says


love love loved it!

especially the black mesa tie in.

Fugu says
Evan says

Thanks so much for this song - it was such a fantastic payoff for a wonderful game. The icing on the "cake", so to speak!

Butters says

I just want you to know that I have listened to this song roughly fifty times since I beat the game first. Of your many songs that have gotten stuck in my head, this sure is the getting-stuck-in-headiest.

eric says

just another person checking in to say:

i beat portal last night and have listened to your song atleast 10 times since then. it was the perfect icing on the cake.

funny you mention, because 'still alive' reminded me of skull monkey's 'bonus room' just because they're both different and hilarious video game songs.

Brad O'Farrell says

By iTunes' count I've listened to Still Alive at least 68 times in the past 2 days.

Seth Reineke says

Haven't stopped singing/playing this song since I heard it. Also, full tablature is at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/j/jonathan_coulton/still_alive_tab.htm

Seth Reineke says

Also, if you record a version with your vocals, you should get Ellen's as well, use the same distortion she used on your voice and do a duet :-D

Joe says

Great song! I reiterate again, as many people have said, it was the perfect, unexpected ending to Portal.
It seems cool that Valve would approach someone to have them write a song for their game.

And to answer dt's post up above, no, no virtual machine at the moment can handle 3D acceleration well, which is required for pretty much any game in this day and age. VMWare, Parallels, and such will not be able to run any steam game, or, if it can, very VERY slowly.
WINE in Linux doesn't count, as it's an emulator of sorts. It can handle the game decently, but due to lack of good video card drivers under Linux, the performance isn't so good.

Jeremy Williams says

Continuing the awesomeness as always. Sadly, I've yet to be able to play portal, however, I have been digging the song. Oh, sure, I be a little spoilered for when I finally get around to playing it, but it's worth it.
I've already made my Game Master very sick of the song by playing it in the between classes time. ^_^

GefilteFish!! says

Ok, my genius friend (cant take credit for this) pointed this out to me.
GLaDOS, (voice of the song) (boss),etc. was very important in the game.
In "Still Alive"(great song) (THAT WAS A JOKE HAHA FAT CHANCE)jk, the word "glad" appears twice. In the ending of the game portal, each of the "glad"s is spelt GLaD both times. Take the original "GLaD", the number of times used in the song (2), translate "2"/two to spanish, you get dos.
Put GLaD and DOS together, you get GLaDOS. Back to my second sentence... Don't things like this make you wonder?!

Jon says

I hope you add this one to your live repertoire. It's brilliant! (Not that the rest of your stuff isn't...)

Derrick says

Brilliant! When I heard the song I was just rolling, but when I realized it was you it made perfect sense! Beautifully done, and there is nobody I'd rather wrap up an episode of terrorizing robot mayhem with.

Anonymous says

Fantastic song. When I heard it begin during the credits I had to stop and listen. Then find out where I could have it. Yes. Much like my quest for cake, I found the song and enjoyed every last morsel.


netcrusher88 says

LOVE this song.

@everybody above talking about vmware and wine. Forget VMWare - you can't virtualize fast enough. And vanilla wine might work, but what you're looking for is Crossover. There's a Mac version too, and a couple of other Source games are officially supported, so Portal ought to work.

Peaeater says

God, I love this song. It *made* the ending of Portal. I'm still grinning like an idiot. Thank you so much!

Andrew says

@netcrusher88: actually you _can_ virtualize fast enough if your hardware is quite thoroughly beefy, and VMWare has a relatively recent doodad that will suck OpenGL commands through a portal and out onto the host machine, meaning you can get acceptably accelerated graphics. Similar functionality is avilable from a couple late-alpha/early-beta open source projects as well.

Of course, you still have to deal with the hassles that are Windows and Steam... :)

Antares19 says

The portal game - is the thing i was dreamed hmm.. maybe for about 5 years or more...

I've thinked about portals and fun things that they can made, maked many scratch concept shemes in my notepad... but ofcourse i don't have resources to do it by myself (even simple concept demo)... I've thought - why nobody make that great things..? Nobody see the power of portals? :/

...and finally! Here is it!... Made by Valve! I'm shocked... and happy. :)

GREAT GAME...... And GERAT SONG in the ending! Thank you! :)

/me trying to play chords right now... hehe :]

Joe says

Some people from the Steam forums have noted that the chords aren't quite correct, and some seem to be missing.
Any word from the man himself?

""And the science gets done and you make a neat gun"
Doesn't it sound like there should be an Em between the F and Dm chords?
Just a tid bit of music theory for anyone that cares.
EDIT: Actually, I just listened to the song. Here are the chords that my ear tells me for that section:
FM, Em, Dm, CM, BbM... AM, back to DM.....

You are correct about the Em, I think the it is implied in the bass note walkdown F-E-D. I'm still not sure of what follows that Bb to get back to D. A is the closest I've found but it doesn't seem exactly right. Ah well, it's probably my horrible ear.

Allan says

The game ruled every second was a thrill. Plus its pretty cool that you were part of this as well. Keep up the great tunes. peace.

Jarrod says

I just want to add my voice to the fans here. I don't know exactly what it was, but Portal - and GLaDOS specifically - really struck a chord with me, and your song not only tied up the game but actually added a depth and breadth to her character. And in an incredibly clever, brilliant song with fabulous music! Maybe it's just because the first character I ever cried for in a movie was "Edgar" from "Electric Dreams". I don't know, but GLaDOS is Edgar's spiritual sister, and "Still Alive" is a perfect evolution from the Giorgio Moroder/Jeff Lynne/Phil Oakey songs on that soundtrack.

I can't stop smiling, and I can't remember the last time a song did that for me. Thank you!

Jan Bosman says

Terry Scott Taylor! He made The Neverhood one of my all-time favorite games, with his music. It makes me misty that JoCo shares my appreciation for him.

Justin says

Fucking amazing song. I can't even explain it better than that.

max says

in the first chorus is there no E bridge.

in the second chorus, there is a passing chord between F and d. However, it is not e minor or E Major. Either would sound horrible there. Only an inversion of a C chord would properly fit there. The closest description of that chord is a C7 dominant with bass of E (the little electric guitar thingy plays a Bb there).

anyways who cares it lasts a total of 0.5 seconds.

and res213ch, the chord after Bb is indeed A.

anyway i love this song and its quirky chord transitions between verse/chorus; i found the abrupt Bb chords right before each chorus very effective because they fit well with the humor of the lines... e.g. "except the ones who are dead"

man i want to get into the music industry too

Mikke says

Best song ever!!

Mats Nylund says

A funny and clever song, which made one of the best games I've played even better. I've played the included mp3 at least ten times today, and will continue to do so until I get it out of my head (if ever). Thank you.

Kostas says

Can't really add much to what all the other peeps have already said.

This was a fantastic ending to a fantastic game and you deserve tons of praise for realizing it.


Matt says

Brilliant song. The video game sites are abuzz. While it's too bad you did the song under work-for-hire (or at least it sounds that way?) the bright side is you're getting a TON of new fans...the exposure will sell plenty of albums! I for one never heard of you, but plan to buy your stuff now.

You really should consider doing an album of robot like songs and have that Ellen woman sing them. That would be amazing and I bet you could get that all over the radio too.

Andre says

^Yes. This exactly. A whole album full of crazed artificial intelligence ex-girlfriend-type songs would be awesome. Hell, even with different women worked into it, for different voices.

It would be brilliant, I say!

Andy says

I saw the game announcement something like a year ago with the trailer and thought that looks awesome. I bought it and was not at all disappointed but when I completed the game and heard the song i thought 'man that is to cool, I wonder who wrote it'. I read the credits and its OMG IT's JoCo!!!
Love your work, I went to your annapolis "strange" concert and was floored to see you penning music for the coolest game of the year. Continued success.

madhaha says

Congratulations on a great tune. By the way, did you get any background info other than your advanced play through of the game? A lot of fans are now spinning whole conspiracy theories out of your lyrics. Just thought you'd want to know ;)

Giglio says

Man, this has to be one of the awesomest ending theme I've ever heard in any media, ranking up there with "Where Is My Mind?" on Fight Club and "Reenact" on Killer 7. All of them fit so perfectly. Great work, Jonathan!

Len says

I got my copy of the Orange Box yesterday and my favorite part of Portal thus far has been the salsa/muzak version of "Still Alive" at the very beginning of the game. :)

Sparky says

Jarrod said:
"I don’t know, but GLaDOS is Edgar’s spiritual sister, and “Still Alive” is a perfect evolution from the Giorgio Moroder/Jeff Lynne/Phil Oakey songs on that soundtrack."

Hehehe! That's exactly what I thought when I heard "Still Alive". :)

Josh says


*Finishes HW So I can practice ...*


And there is some speculation on weather that cake really IS A lie or not )_)

Aaron says

I just wanted to commend you for a really awesome piece of work. Portal is one of the best games I've played in a long while, and the pain of its ending was slightly tempered by one of the best end songs I've heard in any game. Kudos on a great achievement, and thanks for bringing more than a few smiles to my face.

Xalaga says

Well, like everyone have said already...LOVE THE SONG! I was laughing so hard, tears....tears...on the side of my face! (as Mrs. White would say from Clue). I just adore the writing in the game and you just tight all in a nice little cake box and put a bow on top. It's a perfect song, for a great game. By far THE BEST VIDEO GAME ENDING in such a loooooooong time! I think it might be tide with Metroid's revelation that Samus was a girl....IS THAT LEVEL of great moments in life man!

Thanks so much for saying "YES" to a very obvious question when Valve aproch you. I don't think any one would have done that good of a job. All things happen for a reason...so at the end we get cake!

PS: Skullmonkey, my fav game in a long time. I see my self holding on to portal and portal's song the same way I do with Skullmonkey.
PPS: It would be funny to have a cd of GLadDOS sing her favorites like "Well isnt that Ironic" and "It's the end of the world (as we know it)" LOL.

Rjak says


You are so brilliant that I've invented a new term which I will use to refer to you.

See if you can find it in the following statement.

"Everything about 'Still Alive' smacks of genius. From the simple opening with just voice and guitar, to the hilarious harmonies as the song swells and abates (how did he manage to make 'funny' harmonies?? It sounds impossible, but he did it), the song perfectly captures the tone of the villanous GlaDOS and the overlapping simplicity of the game's story. Truly, Jonathan Coultan's ingeniosity knows no bounds."

jinxtigr says

I'm in the music business.
You can want to be in the music business.
But the cake is a LIE in the music business :)

Dawn Martin says

You are seriously amazing. Thank you for such a wonderful song. I can't stop listening =x

Ariock says

Missed you at PAX.
Saw you in SF.
Heard you (not really) in Portal.
When the game ended, I couldn't stop laughing through the song. So. Funny. I actually missed your credit near the end.
So I started searching Youtube for the song, because I loved it so much.
And THAT was when I found out it was you.
And I thought...Duh. Of COURSE it was Coulton.

dt says

I implore you, JoCo -- give us a $10 cake option (yeah, I'm a cheapskate) to go along with the monkeys, robots and bananas. Even if just for a limited time. Sooo many people would buy a cake to thank you for "Still Alive."

Jason Scott says

Hey there, I was raving about Portal just recently on my weblog:


And I was just now looking for a version with you singing it as well, and found this entry. What a joy that song was, how much more it made the game at the end.

And I had been straining to think of any time a game contained a song that was, itself, a meta-spoof of the game it was in, and I had thought, just a day or two ago, how "Little Bonus Room" from Skullmonkeys was that very song... and I see you heard it too and were inspired by it!

Of course, "Little Bonus Room" is about the level, and not the experience of using clay to tell a story or anything like that, so you still come on top.

Here's the lyrics to "Little Bonus Room". Well worth searching out.

The Lil' Bonus Room
Here's a little bonus room, because I know you've had it tough
Here's a little bonus tune, about collecting real cool stuff.
Yes, here's a little bonus room, where you can play.
Don't be frightened, don't run away.
You can linger, 'cuz I'm your video friend.
Think of me as a father figure, with a hand to lend.
Here's a little bonus room, where you don't have to worry.
Take your sweet time, you need not hurry.
Oh, you're looking incredible, you're the bomb!
and me, I'm kind of like your dad, and a little like your mom.
There are no Monsters here, hey wait, look over there.
I was just kidding, don't be scared.
and when you turn this game off, in the real world once again,
You won't have to play make-believe, or try to pretend.
'cuz I'll be right there when you open your hand,
'cuz I'm your little invisible musical friend.
So, show me to your pets, or show me to your pals.
You really will impress every nifty guy and gal.
Show them you are individual, show them you are BOLD!
Besides, I get residuals for every game that's sold.
I'm your little invisible musical friend for life.
I'll never leave you.

Jeremy says

It was so catchy, in fact, that the only way I could exorcise it from my head was to sit down at the piano and figure it out myself. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQrSYLYtltU)

Brian says

Ok, I just wanted to tell my story real quick because it totally blew my mind.

I finally bought portal today and played my way straight through, enjoying every moment of the game. Then the satisfaction of completing the game pales in comparison by being congratulated by the song "Still Alive." I instantly loved it, and went to complete the last level 3 more times just to hear the song.

After my third or so listen, I had a thought. "Wow, this sounds a whole lot like Jonathan Coulton's music. So I googled "Who wrote "still alive" in portal?" Before I knew it I came to this page.

I couldn't believe it, I love your music and to have your fingerprints on this groundbreaking game is amazing. Congradulations and thank you for putting the icing on the cake....... or...... no cake......... it's a lie you know ;-p

sizer says

The is the best game ending ever. It gave me goosebumps (literally) for the perfect storm of lyrics, melody, great voice, and ascii art. I hadn't realized you were involved with the game, but it was 'aha' as soon as I saw your name in the credits.

The melody is a little simple for your stuff, but it fits perfectly with the stilted computer voice so that's not a complaint.

This is on repeat play at work, and I'm not the only one. Everyone joins in for the 'Now these points of data make a beautiful line...' bit.

Josh Lewis says

OK, so last week I was a Mac/Wii owner like Jesss far above me in this thread. No Xbox, no PS3. I was going to play the game with Boot Camp (and yes, that would normally work just fine) but my Mac is a little too old and low-end to pull it off.

So I went out and bought an Xbox 360 just to play Portal.

It was totally worth it!! What an incredible game! Your song truly makes the whole package shine, Jonathan. Yes, I know there's lots of great content in The Orange Box, but hearing your song was easily the best moment I've had with it yet. I'm telling all my coworkers about JoCo now, and they're loving you too. Even my wife Steph likes the song, and that's really high praise. She's usually in the, "Geeky stuff, whatever," camp. ;-) Your lyrics are so perfect, and... well, I could go on and on.

Keep up the incredibly great work!! I hope I can see you live sometime soon, JC.

Colin says

"I feel fantastic" - well done, JoCo :)
I hope to hear the song soon.

hax says

This song will indeed be a part of video game history.

GravitySpec says

I must say, you never cease to amaze me with your music. I hope this experience opens up more opportunities for you to work with music in the future with other game companies.

I also agree with hax that this song will go down in video game history. :D

Keep up the great work!

Morphy says

This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here, HUGE SUCCESS!

SevinPackage says

Yahtzee put a little blurb in at the end of his video review for HL2: Ep2 and Orange Box, regarding JoCo's song:

"There's an awesome song in Portal by Jonathan Coulton, he's one of my favourite artists and you should check out www.jonathancoulton.com if you like upbeat folk rock about robots"

The review is really funny, and filled with profane language (as usual).

You can view the video here:

tragic82 says


CWats says

I know this makes me lame, but I'd never heard of you until portal, and until I watched Yahtzee do his thing over at the escapist today, I had no idea you wrote this song. But I ran an aux cable from my computer to my girlfriend's and recorded the damn thing(sounds great, I'll pay good money for it when it becomes available!) because I had to have it. Made me an instant fan. Thanks thanks and double thanks.

Jan Bosman says

I figured it out! The light chords at the beginning (before the song really kicks in) remind me quite a bit of the theme to Cool Hand Luke.

Reasons why "Still Alive" is badass: +1

Jimbo Jones says

I'm not cool. I couldn't even begin to guess where cool goes to hang out when I go to bed because I have to go to work in the morning. But I do know what I like. This song? I like. Too much, probably. When one of my cubicle dwelling coworkers goes berserk and murders all of us, they'll ask him, for the love of humanity, why? And he'll say (for it WILL be a he, you know that, right?) something along the lines of, "It was that fucking song...he just kept playing it over and over and over and OVER! I HAD to make it stop, man! (grabs camera) YOU STILL ALIVE NOW, DUDE? HUH?!?"

I apologize for the coarse language, but let's be fair: a fair number of cubicle dwellers' innards are now festooned about the office like so much silly string and Floam(tm) soaked in cranberry wine, and you're going to lecture me about potty-mouth words? People are dead! Have some sense of perspective, for God's sake!


I have always watched the full credits after an end-game, but never craved to do so again and again. Thanks heavens I figured out how to extract the MP3 file from the game files so I can drive others crazy. (Don't worry, they won't get the file from me...it's only for my use as a licensed operator of the software.)

M_pony says

Damn, it was a BbM7.. I couldn't put my finger on it.

therpham says

Wonderful game, wonderful song. I especially love the part "even though you broke my heart and killed me... and tore me to pieces... and threw every piece into a fire." That is a masterpiece of perfectly-timed black comedy.

Expect the cover version to explode onto the internet in the coming days.

Josh says

I really enjoyed the game and the song was a fantastic icing on the cake! I thought one of the best things about the game was the reactions of the turrets and their voicing? was the voice acting on those also Ellen McLain? One of the most memorable "characters" i've seen in a game.

John Peters says


Funny Pixelton says

LOVE the song. And the fact you mentioned the Skull Monkey's bonus song is even better. You rock!

Matt says

What I want to know is, did Valve request that the song have GLaDoS saying she was still alive? I'd have to think so... otherwise it would be pretty strange to say she was when in fact she was not.

Nick says

Best ending credits in a video game ever. Period.

daft hero says

this is great stuff. easily one of my favorite parts of the game. jonathon coulton, you are my new hero. i sat here and learned to play this easy/catchy tune. now i got a surprise for my friends. thanks!

Gads says

I haven't played the game yet (Mac user with no Boot Camp and no 360), and I'm a little ashamed to say I heard this song on the internet... but... thank you. This song is GREAT. Combined with the end credits, it is a laugh riot, and very catchy/singable as well!

Thanks so much for a song that's really brightened my day. :)

Evan says

Such a great song. I really enjoyed it, and it made such a bad day good when I beat portal and got to hear that. I didn't original know it was you but I heard the "I feel fantastic and I'm still alive" and I thought of one of your other songs, and low and behold it was you all along.

Great job.

Bryan says

Brilliant. Brilliant!!!

KingChai says

Hey Jonathan, great job with the song and I like it a lot! It's the perfect way to tie up the game and also, thank you so much for making the chords available. Saved tons of time trying to figure them out :)

All the best in all of your future endeavors and take care!

Sam says

Best game ever. I love the Portal team and want their babies.

Just like to point out, that in the Still Alive transcript you have above, the line:

"So I’m glad I got burned, think of all the things..."

where-as in the ending text display it appears as:

"So I'm GLaD. I got burned. Think of all the things..."

The difference is subtle yet significant as it changes the meaning completely. This is also 'cleverly' disguised in the way it is sung.


AndyX says

as already pointed out earlier, your song helped to make a damn good game into a really exceptional one!
great job!

i am looking forward to picking up the song via steam or itunes (as long as it is being officially released) the moment it comes out.


BlueSquareApple says

I just followed a link from Kotaku. All I have to say is, thank you for the most memorable ending to any game I've ever had. I wish you the best in your future and hope to hear more from you in other games.

Fernando says

I'm also here from Kotaku; I played through Portal in one sitting with my girlfriend (She's not a gamer, but she loved the game!). I'm really GLaD (See what I did there? =p) Valve made such an approachable, casual gamer friendly, short and brilliant game. The last level had us glued to my monitor trying to guess what would happen next.

Anyway, the ending song was the highlight of the game for us (And that's quite a compliment since we think very highly of this game). The music, lyrics, and overal feel of the song is absolutely perfect! You got her personality down flawlessly; I can't wait until it's released on Steam!

I'm sorry to hear I don't remember listening to your music before; but you can bet I will listen to the rest of your work this weekend (I hope I can find you on iTunes). I sincerely hope you work with Valve or other developers in the future, at this point your involvement in a project would definitely be a selling point for me with Lyrics like these!

Greg says

Portal is awesome and this song is awesome and you are awesome.

Bwork says

I'll be the first to say but this song actually choked me up a bit and gave me the misty eye for the tragedy suffered by both victims in the phenomenal game portal (3 if you count weighted companion cube).

It seems to me to reflect the potential disasters we may be driving ourselves towards.

Martin says

BRAVO! Bravo! Absolutely perfect! Very very good job! Keep up the good work.

Alex McLarty says

Sheer genius.

You finish the game and are treated to cake and a fantastic song sung by a pyschotic AI.

It simply couldn't get any better...!

Dan Tentler says

I yanked the song off of some myspace site that was hosting it, and since then have been playing it in the car.

I've been looking for an excuse to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time, and I think i just found it.

Ramshackleton says

Just another one here to say that I discovered you through Portal and have since bought your entire catalog. Thanks so much for giving us this great music!

Molly says

I second Ian's question: What kind of uke???

JoCo says

It's a Mele Ukulele, which I bought mainly for the way those two words sound together: http://www.meleukulele.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=24

Jason Harris says

You should release some CD+G files for us karaoke nerds. I'd do my best robot chick voice to sing the portal song at karaoke. Or re: your brains!

sangjmoon says

I can't seem to get your songs out of my head. First it was Code Monkeys on G4TV, and after Portal, I was driven find out who Jonathan Coulton is and ended up here. You are on my short list of favorite artists. I get 481 hits on YouTube when searching your name. Any favorite ones to suggest? Thanks.

jesss says


I recommend The Future Soon. Spiff has a great video using WOW. If you look on the forums page, there are some recommendations for new JoCo listeners.


Doug TenNapel says

some friends of mine sent me Still Alive and we all laughed and loved it. I kept thinking as I listened, "I wonder if this guy has ever heard Terry Taylor's Skullmonkey's soundtrack?!

It's very kind of you to mention his influence. I was among the creators of Skullmonkeys and chose Terry Taylor to do the music because he wrote outside of the box. WHen we commissioned the Skullmonkeys bonus level I gave a vague assignment, "Write a bonus level song about a bonus level"...what Terry brought it blew our minds and left us on the floor screaming in laughter. The song ended up being my favorite memory of the game.

While Terry's song blew the box open, your song disintegrated the box into another dimension. Well done. I wish more gamers were pioneers like you and the brave Portal folks. Keep going!

salty-horse says

The Skullmonkeys bonus room song was the main reason I got the excellent Imaginarium album. I never finished Skullmonkeys, since it's horribly difficult, but whenever I played it I specifically got to the bonus room just to hear the music.
Imaginarium also has music from The Neverhood which is a wonderful game with great music. You can get the album here: http://www.danielamos.com/store/

Steffen says

So so brilliant. Amazing song, totally fit the unique personality and made the game :)

Wish you more luck in the future and hope to hear more from you!

Jeff says

I've had that song in my head all day (here it Friday, and I finished the game 4 days ago, and decided to google it (again) just to see what people were saying about it and the game in general. I never imagined I would find the blog of the genius that wrote it.

Damn fine job sir - you are the icing on the Portal cake.

Thank you.

Tini Hendriks says

Just great work, i'm just loving "Still Alive".
We should see it on the Billboards

but... the cake is a lie ;)

With regards

Kimli says

I've been a long time fan of yours, and discovery of this song basically elevated my appreciation of your talents to near stalker-like levels (I mean that in the most complementary way possible and don't worry, I live on the opposite end of the continent). You, sir, are awesome. My sequined hat off to you!

[A]JumP[S] says

I love this songs and also the game very much. Thx for the great work :D

ps. The first time I'd listern to it and read the lyrics it's quite scary XD

ken says

Is there any chance of listening to the original unmodified "Still Alive" version?
She has such an amazing voice, I'd like to know what it sounded like before being processed to sound computerized!

Dino Fancellu says

Great song, made me think of TMBG (They Might Be Giants)

Tell says

Hey, hope you dont mind, but I uploaded your tab along with the video at myvideotab.com :)

Beautiful song!

just_a_fan says

That's the best song I've ever head someone wrote about anything

Villane says

Great work! You helped create what is possibly the greatest ending in gaming history!

Benson says

Portal was one of the best games I've ever played, and Still Alive was by far the best conclusion to it I could imagine. You did an incredible job. :-)

Jeffrey says

Awesome Song! All your music rocks, man!

Nebu says

Absolute addictive Song !
Never played the Game, stumbled across the song through Boingboing i think ( bit drunk, late/early morning in Germany right now)
But i reinforced the song min. 10 times since the last 3h in my playlist ...
Congrats for this song. (Additionally i´am ordering Orangebox tomorrow i think, never planned it ... )

Michael says

I love the song :) I keep making cake references to all situations, and I laugh everytime I hear that sentence : "keep trying till you run out of cake". The song reflects the computer character really well, good job there!

Kragthor says

So, I saved the game at the very end... just so I can go in and listen to the song whenever I want. The first time I beat it, I had to go in and listen to it at least three more times. And then of course I decided to look up the lyrics so I can sing it at work, which was how I ended up here, right now. I beat the game less than two hours ago, and here I am, hounding your blog.

Robotguy says

I have been a fan for several months now and played a CD of your stuff for some of the guys at work several weeks ago (Spread the word!). Every one of them loved your stuff. Then, last week one of them comes up to me an says "The ending credit song in Portal is by that Jonathan Coulton guy." I was skeptical , so I checked the website, and lo and behold, he was right! Knowing that song was there forced me to buy the Orange Box. Bravo! Masterpiece! Be sure to let Valve know that your song is selling games.

Dan says

Great Song, Really made this game, I completed it today after learning yesterday evening that I could now play it.. (wish Steam had notified me earlier) - I've repeated the song several times tonight already, so massive congrats to you Jonathan for a brilliant song! it really made the game.

Leminnes says

I love the song, especially the humor. My only complaint is the synthed voice. I understand the reasoning behind it, but if you could, is there ANYway that we could get a straight version of the voice. I LOVE the song but that is the only thing that bothers me a bit. But really, un-synthed voice would be awesome.

Bob says

This song isn't even a work of art, but a work of pure genius. In all reality it made the game worth buying, and gave you a nice, and much needed break from the brain stressing apparatus that is portal. The song is a perfect end to the game, and you got the character so perfect it's scary. If only you were in more games. At the same time, I also wish more games were as sarcastic and funny as portal.


P.S. Keep up the good work, one can only hope to catch one of your shows, that is if you play in the Seattle area.

PV says

How is it that Jonathan Coulton can so perfectly express the feelings of psychopaths in song? Makes you wonder, don't it?

I didn't know who wrote the song when I first finished the game (and I was laughing too hard at the song and notes scrolling by to pay attention to the credits), so I had to play through the final boss fight twice. And then it all made perfect sense - it had Jonathan's phrasing all over it. Pure genius.

The song has its own myspace page (http://myspace.com/portalsong) - I expect it's playing as the soundrack of lots of pages with unreadable text, barfolicious color choice, and crap blinking everywhere.

Redbear says

Thank you. the ending credits song really made this game. you did a really great job capturing the essence of the game and the charater and really made this song awesome...

Patman in KC says

Jonathan, just wanted to say that it was an absolutely perfect song for the ending. Great music, great words. =)

Rat Gris says

Thank you for this fantastic song ! We really feel the personnality of the crazy computer in it !

Loopinvariant says

I pulled the song from one of the Portal archive files and put it into iTunes because my kids just love it (they are 11, 11, and 8). Last night after dinner they put the song on repeat play and proceeded to memorize it over the course of half an hour or longer. They even are working on a dance routine for it. I told them if they put a whole routine together I'll make a video of them for YouTube.

Then I'm going to come find you.

With cake.

Kyle Jones says

I wanted to thank you for throwing up the lyrics and chords. I plan on playing this and adding it to our little bands repertoire! It's one of those great memorable game songs like Maybe by the Inkspots from Fallout (another of our favorite songs to play).


xat says

Not really expecting a response here, but do you possibly plan on releasing a karaoke track to compliment the release? I certainly hope so!

Aegis says

Portal's legendary, that song is legendary, you're a legend. =)

Dom says

Any post that mentions The Lil' Bonus Room and gets a comment from Doug TenNapel is a win. "There are no monsters here, oh wait, look over there!"

The Cake says

Another epic win from JoCo! I've been a fan since the "Baby Got Back" days, and I was overjoyed to see and hear your work in portal.

I've also set about a little shop with ascii art and nerdy in-jokes:


Stig Christensen says

Just had to leave a note - your song made an amazing game simply unforgettable :)

Blackfish95 says

Hey Jonathan! This is the best ending to a game...ever.
As I've been commenting all over the 'net, Valve makes outstanding games. I've already awarded the best opening to Half Life 1. So now they also have best ending, and your song makes a huge part of what makes this ending so great.

Well done...

Can't wait for the dance remix :)

yukaduk says

Slashdot's review of Portal called Still Alive "one of the best game songs ever made".

Jonathan says

The song rocks! The game is awesome!

NightOwl says

Not much to say other than loved the song, sought out who you were so that I could leave a note showing appreciation for your work and wishing you well.

All the best, great job!

Jade says

BEST game ending ever!

Awesome game too - my boyfriend and I sat glued to the computer and played it through in one sitting (Him driving, and me helping with the portal-placement :P)

We laughed so hard when we got to the song, and now we've both got it in our heads non-stop.

Best line - We do what we must, because we can, for the good of all of us....except the ones who are dead...

COsmicD says

omg lol,

you write your chords related to the lyrics out of your head the same way I do it with my texts :)

anyway won't you throw cake at me to correct a little thing I think you overlooked ? I think it's :

Em A D
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction

(you forgot the D chord when the faction of satisfaction is coming :).

Mike says

The last game-ending song that so captured the moment for me was "Late Goodbye" by Poets of the Fall. I remember having chills listening to that song and watching the credits roll. Granted, the mood at the end of Max Payne 2 was completely different than Portal, but "Still Alive" is every bit as good as a game capping moment.

With "Still Alive" I sat there reading and grinning, my jaw on the floor.

Bravo, Jonathan. Excellent music, loved it, it should go down in the annals of video game history as one of the best theme songs ever written.

Poramate says

"Still Alive" is THE best ending theme for video games I've played this year. I couldn't help smiling when the song played and the credit rolled.

Excellent job indeed, Jonathan!

PeterUK says

I just wanted to say that after finishing the game, finally, I was presented with this fabulous song!

Well done on some spot on, funny lyrics. Really complements the game's humour.

Should release it onto iTunes and get it up the charts! :-)

ShynDarkly says

Thanks Jonathan, absolutely perfect ending for the game - now if only we can find a way to drop Code Monkey into a game

Mark Lucas says

Absolutely brilliant - not since Homeworld has there been such a wonderful musical payoff at the end of a game.

Robert McCormick says

I am usually extremely critical of games, especially their endings. That being said, when I beat Portal a tear literally came to my eye because of how great it was (no joke). Although Portal is an undoubtedly fantastic game by itself, I only seem to be concerned with loading up my final save game over and over just beat it and hear your song.

You are simply responsible for one of the greatest game endings of all time. Be proud.

Thank you

Tei says

Instaclassic. Amazing. Cool. I placed the mp3 in loop in my desktop for 2 days. Its remind me the Blade Runner music, for a music that fit into a world.

Congrats both, you and Valve.

Lllama says


It used to be I could throw on any number of your songs to quiet my screamy little baby, but now he's had a taste of "still alive" and he won't go back.

Maybe I can try "I crush everything" again, between playing this song over and over.

PonderousMan says

I am also completely hooked on this song - along with the awesome remix you posted later.

I know the rights may be slightly complicated to work out, but please, Please PLEASE work out how to play this live... I think a JoCo concert without your singing this would be a travesty... (and you thought they liked to sing along with Code Monkey or Mandelbrot Set...!)

I'm waiting to see the numbers from Steam, I'm hoping that will help give Valve (and you) some further incentives to play this - and the almost certain sequels - as often as possible...

Which raises an interesting thought... JoCo, do you ever get tired of singing on behalf of psychos? Or is it therapeutic, perhaps?

デニス says

I'm mortal enemy of pop/rock music, but I was SO-O-O deeply surprised when I saw/heard ending theme of Portal. How cleverly and resourceful it is! Man, I was about to cream my jeans. Thanks a lot!

Daniel Cormier says

Congratulations on getting to do that. It is a great song. I was laughing during parts of it when I fininshed the game.

You do a lot of really good work. As a programmer, Code Monkey is a favorite of mine.


Vanderdecken says

Brilliant song. I heard about you from PCGamer magazine UK just before Portal was released, under the rumour that you were doing something for it. I hastily researched, loved the songs (Tom Cruise Crazy, Madelaine and Code Monkey are my favourites) and played the game. I laughed and cried during the credits sequence. You are a master, and you have a new devotee.

Anders says

Brilliant song.

Orion Walker says

This is my first conscious exposure to JC, but like the rest of ya I can't get away from "Still Alive".... way to cap what was already a perfect game with a completely unexpected pop gem. It's so hard to go find pop gems these days, I love that this one came and found me. Let me be the 38th to say "best ending ever!"

With all due respect to the stirring airship theme from Final Fantasy 7, there has only been one previous occasion in my long gaming career I've been so haunted by a piece of video game music that I had to seek out the composer immediately. Wanna guess? Yup - Terry Taylor, The Neverhood. And back then there's no MySpace, so I had to write the TenNapels to inquire, and they very obligingly sent me a mix tape. (Thanks again for that, you guys!)

Now I must at once seek out the seminal JoCo works... as well as the Skullmonkeys ditty, sounds A BIT like my cup o' tea. :)

...and I feel so much less guilty now about getting the theme to Code Monkeys stuck in my head!

-- OW!

Asmodemus's Mum says

My son rented the Orange box and as usual whipped through the whole thing in a day or so. Then kept on playing it. And playing it. And I kept hearing the Portal song. And kept hearing it. And kept hearing it. Finally ending up whistling it at work where people asked 'what IS that absurdly catchy tune?' So I rustled up a YouTube clip and played it. People accuse me of being an evil overlord with designs on their sanity. It is even now being hummed, sung, whistled all over the plant. Wait. It's YOU with the evil overlord plot thing! You're out to hijack all of our minds, aren't you? *tapping fingers on desk in a particular rhythm while humming 'maybe Black Mesa, HAHA that was a joke'*

Johan Eriksson says

Terry Scott Taylor composed all the music for Neverhood, which really is my all time favorite point-and-click game.
And, I must say that without the specific music, Neverhood wouldn't be half as good as it is.

But then again, Still Alive is my absolute favorite song of all time. It's absolutely fantastic!
I'm looking forward to hearing more of your work. And if that work involves Valve, nothing can go wrong.

Ninave says

This just keeps looping on my head. I love it. I didn't even play the game myself (watched from side).

This is going to be one of those song gaming community remembers after years (like J-E-N-O-V-A, Yehat and some others).

pylo says

please give me instrumental version

Ve4ernik says

Well, looks like this is comment No.210 or something...so...here it is...

Portal`s unofficial fan-praised logo(the Companion Cube) when painted in orange is the second heart of The Orange Box :D

You helped a truly awesome and creative game to be even more awesome by doing the mind-blowing ending song!

*bows to the ground*

You should be honoured by your work! Congrats to you and to those fancy guys at Valve! :D
And...with you...ummm...now....we`re..."Still Alive" :D

Rafael says

This is song is great, but so great, that it makes you like and miss GLaDos so much, even despite the fact she sent you to burn to death... I really hope she gets new appeareances in the Half-Life franchise.

Oren says

Great great song!
I can't stop listening to it!
I hear it all day long on a loop.
Great job on the song and the humor.

Maz says

Thank you, thank you for this song! It blew my mind, and was a perfect finishing touch to a nearly perfect game.

Dashing Blade says

Best gaming music since trying to dock with a Space Station in Elite. End Of.

TBM says

Finished the game today, heard the song for the first time today, fell in love with it today, learnt it today. Best game music since Uematsu left Square Enix!

Thanks for the chords!


Gador says

Man this song is great, I really love it as much as i love the whole game.

Cheers from Argentina.

Lemming says

First November comment! Will this thread ever die?

Not while there are like-minded people proceeding to finish Portal and obsess over the song that so poignantly ties up the most likable (and... hateable (?)) non corporeal character since HAL.

With any luck, Aperture Labs will cameo in further Valve releases.

Donald says

Wow! This ending-song is really a masterpiece! Congrats to you and Ellen McLain!

Ricky says

Can't say nothing more than what all the other guys said... But my own personal BIG thank you for making Portal so perfect and making me laugh every thime I sing this song :)

Blender says

Portal is my first game on Xbox. Finally got the eye-hand down to the point that I could beat the game. Song is way cool.

Any plans for a ring tone?

MataGyula says

Everything has been said so i cant say anything new to You , just Thanks for making this the way You did. ^^

Billiam says

First time writer, long time JC fan.

Best. Credits Song. Ever.

As I was laughing through my tears the first time I watched the credits, I thought it sounded an awful lot like JC's writing, but the female voice threw me off.

JC, I wish you unfathomable fortune and success, and thank you for your creativity, humor, and talent. Your music is a joy to listen to! I'm so bummed I missed you at PAX.


All the best,

Nicholas says

Anyone has the fingerpicking? I'm stuck on BbM7. Plz help who knows!

Lemming says

Upon another rewatch/listen of the credits, I had the following reaction.

"Wait... THE Mike Patton?"

Confirmed, Alan1!

Tjay says

Has to be said, the sense of satisfaction from completing this and hearing the song is just brilliant. Lyrics, melody, all of it. Just awesome.

Baztd says

dude, you rock !

Ben says

I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

Marvin says

Hey dude, this is Marvin from the Philippines.I accidentally stumbled on your site and well, I just finished the game today and you rock dude. great song! i'll spread the word, and who knows, you just might be popular here someday. HUGE SUCCESS. haha.

Ben2 says

Great job! I love it!

steve says

great song, when i played through the game and heard it i thought that it sounded like one of your songs and it was pretty cool to find out that it actually was.

bonuswavepilot says

Can you get bored reading comments of praise? If you do make it this far, JoCo, add me to the chorus of fandom. Excellent job (and for the tally, I'd already been into your work (through... erm boingboing originally, I think)).

TheHSB says

Jonathan you’ll please excuse me for not knowing your name or your musical resume. I commend you on your song.
Permit me to echo the sentiments expressed previous.
I am a leisure time gamer and an armature guitarist. To that end I’ve enjoyed Valve and every product they put out. I enjoyed Portal greatly.

The conclusion to the game was remarkably fitting and to my absolute surprise and delight, I found the closing song immensely engaging. I LOVE it. The amusing/fitting lyric and clever melodic progression. I LOVE this tune. I was able to download a copy of the song on the internet; it is on my home computer and my iPod. It is one of the very few times I’ve downloaded a tune and felt sincerely guilty for not paying for it. I hope you are being compensated for your work. If nothing else I hope you get some satisfaction knowing that your work, your song is such a huge hit for many of us.

Kudos, congratulations and thank you.

Certainly, the cake is a lie!

Andrew says

I love this song, I heard it on an IGN podcast today and immediately listened to it on youtube multiple times.
I rushed home and finished Portal tonight so I could earn the right to hear it again.
The vocals are amazing.
My favourite line: "And we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time"

funkernregen says

thnak you for your awesome song! it was the first time i payed attention to the end credits of a game :)

Solare says

What a beautiful song man, and also how lucky you are.
I tried to contact Valve to make music for them but never got an answer.

I'm so happy for you

David Piepgrass says

It was in my head three days nonstop continuously after finishing the game, I put the lyrics on the wall at home and work, and then Slashdot tells me it was Thing-A-Week man whodunnit! Whodathunkit?

I'm just curious JoCo, did you set out to make the best game ending music of the past ten years, or was it just random?

And Portal is so truly great. It rocketed The Orange Box from a good deal to a ridiculous bargain!

Oops, look at me still talking when there's science to do....

Alex says

Uber song Jonathan! I hope It will be available in sing star game :)

ErikZ says

I had first heard this song as background music to some "Portal" clip on youtube. I had never made the connection that you were the one who wrote this, even though I've been visiting your site for a while!

I loved it! I'm not sure if it'll get mainstream, most of the people I've shown this to are put off by the computer voice. Which is one of the things I liked most about it in the first place. But it's obvious that this has given you more exposure. I hope you get more projects like this in the future!

Bryan says

This song made me very happy at the conclusion of the game, and so did this post! It allowed me to figure out the song on my banjo! it goes like this: "im not even angry" (dwa-ang tuwanga dwanga doo dee ta-ang tuwanga dwange doo dee)

Amonek says

Hi Jonathan, your song for Valve Portal game is amazing piece of work.
Its completely great. I must hear it again and again. Its impossible wash it out of my head. Nice. Thanks for it. :o)

Dene Palmer says

But there's no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.


joemorf says

A perfect song for a fantastic game.

And I especially love that the first time the vocal splits into harmony is on the lyric "And tore me to pieces."

That sort of musical cleverness makes me giggle uncontrollably.

Well done.


Alex Vixgeck says

The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie
The cake is a lie
The cake is a... Pie? o_O


Android says

Perfect ending to an incredible game. I wish every game ended so brilliantly. This song perfectly captured what was great about the mood of the writing - excellent!

daMax says

You all said it before: HUGE SUCCESS! Best ending song ever. Instantly transformed me into a JoCo addict.

Martin M says

Thanks for a truly wonderful song. It really added so much to the feel of the game.

Zerotwo says

I want this mp3. Will send money.

Molly says

B A D Bm (repeat some more)
For the people who are still alive

Don't you mean *Bb* A D Bm?

JoCo says

@Molly: Sure do. Oops.

kai says

loved "still alive"
great work, i really hope you can do some more work like this, because it really is a refreshing thign youve got here.

so yeah, good job!

Ethan Hoyt says

Love the song, blew my mind away! Its hilarious how ironic it is, with her talking about 'tearing her to pieces' yet she is 'happy for you'. Its awesome to see that your (and commentors above) a Terry S. Taylor fan, been a really big fan of him since 2000. Reminds of the good ol' days playing The Neverhood (never got to play Skullmonkeys.) Wow, the nostalgia, now I'm going to have to play Neverhood once more again.

Clifton Wright says

I laughed so hard throughout that whole song! I felt almost like the entire game was made with the intent to prepare you to fully enjoy the song in its context. Granted, the game was very cool in and of itself, but I know the song wouldn't be anywhere near as funny without having played the game. Hearing the song just after playing the game was an excellent experience. Great job.

Chimera says

Congrats on a great, surprising "hit" song. :) This is probably one of the best video game songs I've heard in years. Am definitely going to check out your other works.

Jamie OD says

Kudos to you for making a great song that made the experiance of playing Portal even better.

Anonymous says

Here is the song complete with album art,ID3 tags and lyrics... propigate it,share it, re-upload it :)


Cornelius says

So, where did this melody come from?
I finished the game for the third time and when the song started, to my surprise, my wife (originally from Brazil) began singing along in Portuguese.
She said that the melody was used as a reoccurring " theme" song in a long running TV drama in Brazil called "Malhação." The actress/singer was Marjorie Estiano.
I can't say for sure that she actually wrote the melody. But it does pre-date the release of Portal by several years. I'm still looking for the original song and i'll post it online when I find it.
So, basically...it should be LYRICS by Jonathan Coulton. :)

Rob Lang says

Fantastic song. I listen to it in my playlists with all the heavy metal and nasty 90s grunge.

brykMantra says

I've seen video of Portal gameplay for a month or so now, but I hadn't heard the song until this morning on Cinematech (G4TV), when they showed more Portal video with the entire song playing.

And of course I fell in love with the song, which is how I ended up here.

Great work!

ShotArrow JPN says

When I finished "Portal" the game, I knew something must be happen in the end-credit as usual. But that was a big mistake.
When I heard Ellen McLean sang like monologue, I was touched so much.
I'm so lucky to happen to get a great experience in my real life.

Excellent work, May MUSE bless YOU!!

Brian Francosky says

Fantastic song for a fantastic game.

The Black Mesa reference was perfect.

Just wanted to say thanks for creating one of the things that finally gave me what so many games have been missing lately--a perfect ending.


PCPete says

I've been playing "computer" games since 1981, and I've even been a bit involved in a couple of them, like DooM, in an "aftermarket" kind of way. So I know some of the technology behind them, but I've got a real appreciation for the "immersion" factor. Having said that, I've been a bit blasé about some of the more recent megareleases, and I was expecting a cerebral feel to Portal and not much more - which would have been fine. Money well spent for 6 hours of escapism!

But the absolute jaw-droppingly, peristalsis-pausingly pinnacle to this gem of a game blew me away, for all the reasons other folks have stated here. The lyric lines, the injokes, the pathos, the whole shebang was one of the nicest, most memorable moments in what's been a tough year. Sad, huh?

When so many members of The Great Unwashed (like me) spend hours putting together cheesy "tributes" on YouTube, you know you've broken the demographic rules. "Still Alive" is absolutely a keeper, for me anyway (and I throw nothing away).

I recover audio and video recordings, so I've heard more instruments than just about anyone on the planet, so I can't believe I didn't pick the ukelele in the mix. Bugger.

Congratulations on a musical Perfect Storm.

Kyle says

This song is pure genius. Finishing a great game is almost always anti-climactic, but getting to hear this little gem at the end made it all worth it.

Here's hoping for a sequel (to both the game and the song)!

woody says

youtube video of jon performing acoustic:

sorry if already here somwhere

Archaos says

It's a bloody awesome song, congratulations.
Since hearing it for the first time about half an hour ago, I've listened to it about 6 times :P

Flaming Lemon says

Oh. My. Gawd. I'm so obsessed with this song right now.

I've not even played Portal, but I came across this song on VG Cats (http://www.vgcats.com/comics/extras/stillalive.php). I heard it once and instantly fell in love with it. I just had to take out my guitar last night and try it out for myself.

Hey Jon (Jonathan Coulton), could you also put up the tabs for this? I haven't played around with the chords you put up there, but hopefully I can figure them out with what you've given us.

I honestly think this song could stand a chance on radio.

Crystal says

Wow, I didn't realize you'd done this song... but in retrospect I probably could have figured it out! ;3

Some friends took me to see a show of yours at a coffee-shop in Philly a while back, and I gotta say, you are awesome! Oh, those other guys are too. ;) But Skullcrusher Mountain gets played quite often around here and Creepy Doll sticks in my head in a creepy way...

Keep up the great work!

Jeffrey Hitchin says

I worked with Ellen last year in a production of "Bye Bye Birdie" and she is FANTASTIC. I'm so jealous of her getting to do this gig. Maybe someday I'll do a voice over for a game where I get to sing a Coulton tune.

Dave says

Looking at the orange box, I initially thought that 'Portal' was just a training thing for people to learn the controls for Half Life. Anyway, having finished the rest I thought I'd give it a go - and discovered what may be my game of 2007. For me it had the freshness that Half Life 1 had all those years ago - different, amazingly written, engaging and had me gripped. It was the right length too.

And then.. the credits came on. The song is absolutely sublime - there really was cake at the end! Not only does it sound amazing, but it takes the game story and characters further, I am still reeling from how perfect it is!


KidneyNotes says

Lots of speculation on the meaning behind the song/game on Kidney Notes.

"Presume that everything she says in the "Still Alive" song is true. The preceding events *were* a huge success. The remaining personality, the one that sings the song, actually wanted you to destroy her malevolent personalities. That was the point of the game..."


Jed says

Wow...incredible game, brilliant character, and awesome song!

Nathan Sanzone-McDowell says

Hey, I played Portal, and then I was replaying with the commentary, and heard from an audio snippet from Ellen McLain that "Still Alive" was by you (which I'd missed in the credits, 'cause I was reading the lyrics", which I thought was just perfect. So, thanks for the great song, it was the perfect end to the game, and made me laugh several times. I hope you get more work like that in the future: video games could use more humorous music like yours...

Mike says

No that this page needs anymore comments but,

This was by far the best game i have ever played and when yahtzee said that this was written by Jonathan Coulton i was like holy shit! he's the best song writer i know!

Hayley says

I just finished the game and wow it is so ... refreshing and beautifully well-crafted.

These sentiments are reflected again in your song which came as a fabulous surprise at the end. What a treat to have a great and unusual game followed up with a clever, funny, beautiful song! Ellen McLain brought life to the manic computer in a touching way that makes you want to understand GLaDOS better.

"Still Alive" reminds us that we care about what GLaDOS feels and hints at more to come...

Dear Santa, for Christmas I would like news of more from GLaDOS (especially if I get to hear more songs).

Many, many, many thanks for crafting this lovely song to accompany a fabulous new game.


Brad says

Really great song!

Made the perfect ending!

Very well done!

Nathan says

How am I supposed to enjoy the Phil Spector Christmas album properly when Still Alive won't leave my head? Humbug.

Like a lot of casual gamers, I was floored by the wit and sophistication of Portal, and the song was a superb payoff.

Great vision from Valve, and the creatives - designers, writers and JoCo - delivered in spades.

So thanks. I also love that people are still posting comments here as they finish the game... maybe you'll get another rush on comments as fellow brits beat it on PS3...

Madison says

I'm a super-casual player and picked up Portal from Steam because I wanted to "earn" the song.
So glad I did! Thanks for posting the chords.

Stilgar says

I bought The Orange Box a while ago and finally decided to try out Portal. I totally loved the game and the story behind it (thanks Valve). And Ellen McLain captured the personality of GLaDOS perfectly.

When I finished the game and came to the end credits, I only read the lyrics on the left side, laughing wile doing so, so I missed the mention of Jonathan Coulton, but I was thinking that it sounded a lot like something that JoCo would have done. Didn't think more about it, but decided to play through the game again with the commentaries turned on and found out that it actually WAS Jonathan Coulton who wrote the song.

I've been a fan since I first heard Code Monkey and promptly started subscribing to the Thing A Week podcast. Thanks for the laughs. The song made the game have the best end sequence I've ever seen.

Tiffany Danielle says

So, I can't wait 'til Christmas...I get Orange Box and FINALLY get to see this in context! The song is super-cute, by the way. I have it memorized. :D And I do it in a GLaDOS voice and everything.

mark says

I just finished this game up and it was awesome. honestly though, the end credits and your song was the best part of that whole game.

snerd says

Cornelius, you'd better come up with some hard facts if you're going to throw down something like that.

Garet says

I just finished the game yesterday and the ending song was (is) AWESOME!!!
The feeling to hear it for the first time... PRICELESS

PS. The cake is a lie? But everybody has the same ;)

Ian says

With the consistent humorous remarks throughout the game, your song was a PERFECT ending. Wonderful job!!!

Garth Roxburgh-Kidd says

Like Nicholas, I'm having a lot of trouble with that BbM7. Could someone break out the individual finger-picks for that one? Pity us mad Uke players...

Simon King says

Just someone else who's just picked up Orange Box (and a 360 to play it on). I was straight away into Portal as I was sick of all of my friends telling me the cake was a lie.

And then the song. What can I say that hasn't been said before? Just Awesome.

alex says

Me encanta esta cancion, disfrute mucho con el juego, y sinceramente esta cancion es una maravilla y contrasta perfectamente con el.
Jonathan Coulton eres un Dios!!!!

Dave Vileta says

Yeah this song was the perfect way to complete Portal. Infact, it might be worth it to buy Portal just for this song. I myself bought The Orange Box Soundtrack to have it on an official hardcopy and some other songs from Portal as well as HL2:Ep1

Jeff & Rachel says

We were at our friends house watching him finish this game -- better than most movies, frankly -- and when this song came on at the end, not only did I fall even more in love with the game, but I turned to Rachel and said, "Doesn't this sound like a Jonathan Coulton song?"

I was pretty proud of myself when I read the Wikipedia page this morning and found out I was right. Not as proud of myself as I would be if I wrote the song or had anything to do with creating Portal, but still. I take my victories where I can.

Congrats, Jonathan! You are becoming a part of everything cool. Now get this song onto my iPod!

Enrique Rascón says

Thank you for this song, it made the ending so sweet as eating a real cake.

I hope that when Portal 2 gets release you can cooperate in the same way, at least i'll be expecting it!

For now this song will be running for a bit in my player :-)

DreemerNJ says

I beat the game a while ago. Since then I've been trying to think of a game's ending that was as memorable and entertaining as this. I can't think of any.

I was honestly hesitant to get Portal because I heard about how short the game is. Now that I have it and have played through it, I see it is one of the most perfectly put together games and the ending credits song was the perfect end to it.

Sorry to gush. But it's rare to see something like this happen. I've listened to your songs for some time now. I've enjoyed Valve games for some time now. The fact that your music and their games have come together in something so amazingly entertaining seems like divine intervention.

Klaus says

This song fits so absolutely perfect into this great game!
Thanks for it!

Adomas says

This is the best song EVER!!!!!!!!!!
But you only going to figure it out by completing the game.

John Clavis says

I was absolutely blown away by this song. The melody sung in this song is the most interesting song lyric melody I've heard in years. It's absolutely beautiful! I'm so glad "Portal" ended with this song -- it was an absolute delight. I was not familiar with your work before, Mr. Coulton, but rest assured I'm going to check you out! Thanks very much for a song I'm now singing out loud as I walk down the street! :)

austin says

I love the fact that all the radios and the elevators play an instramental version of your song. and a random fact on of GLaDOS heads in the last leval is saying a recepe for cake!

Ben says

Finally got around to playing Portal (it's been on my hard drive for a while without me looking at it).
Simply brilliant.
Wasn't so keen on the rest of the orange box, but I would have happily paid the full whack just for Portal. Your song at the end was just the icing on the already moist AND delicious cake ! I will now be checking out the rest of your compositions.

Alex C. says

The Cake is not a lie.
Your song *is* the Cake.
Thank you!

Anne says

We gave my father-in-law Portal for Christmas, and he played it with every free moment until tonight, when he finished it and called us to say we had to YouTube the ending song because it was so great. And it is! Hard to top the great writing in the game, but you've nailed it. Little bonus room indeed. Cheers!

Alex D L says

Great game, amazing ending.

Thank you very much for this, I taped it to cassette so I could work out the lyrics / chords but thankfully have the proper lyrics here (my Orange box is a Dutch version so the lyrics are printed in Dutch).

I will look out for Skull Monkeys for PS1, thanks for the tip.

One good turn etc.. This is still my favourite song about a video game (Shadow of The Colossus) but only because I love the game even more than Portal.


Thanks again Jonathan.

The cake is a pie?!?!?!?!

Randy says

Such a great song! I played it on my acoustic and my son cracked up! Did you have any input for the version that plays on all the radios in the game? http://theportalradio.blogspot.com/

matthias says

hello, i really love your song ... it's so funny and fits the game so well!!!!!!!!!!!!

sometimes i listen to it nonstop repeating =)


matthias says

oh btw, thanks for the chords ;)

Monty says

Wow, just browsing the vastness of the internet. Happened upon this article.
I am now in the process of learning the song on guitar.
(Thank you)
Just wanted to say portal was an amazing game, and I loved the song.
Me and my brother listened to it probably five times after we beat the game and I have it on my MP3 player now. ^^

Tom Smith says

Thanks for putting your tab up...

Did you know you can make chord pictures using the Chordette font?


ELF Radio says

Thank you for an incredible song!

I recently distributed my semi-yearly Mix CD to all my distant friends, and now i wish i had delayed a few days... because i would have put "Still Alive" at the beginning, at the end, and probably a few places in between.


pwn247 says

What an amazing game- I bought the Orange Box OST the day it came out ^_^. Even have the sheet music to Still Alive.

Grant says

I have never, not once, sent fan mail. But this song is, honestly, an absolutely brilliant piece of work. The game was great - and this song has got to be one of the best - if not the best game-ending songs ever written. The lyrics are simply brilliant. Getting that perfect touch of humor is a tough thing to do. It's so easy to go to the extremes of wackiness or nastiness. You have managed to avoid both extremes and somehow turned black humor light. I have listened to the song at least a dozen times, I actually want people to play the game, just so they can hear and appreciate the song at the end. Thank you for your work!

Fraser Thompson says

Love your song! Have never heard of you but I will definetly check out more of your work now, which I suppose is why you agreed to do the song. Epic win for you! :D

Damn I wish there was some way to extact the voices from the game... The things that Glados say's in her computerish voice are so funny.

Amy Garland says

I think you have sparked a new genre of "gaming music"; that's how genius this song is. From this gamer's standpoint, it is the best reward for completing the game, because a whimsical and catchy little ditty is probably the last thing you would expect! It caught me so off guard, I just had to hear it again and again. More power to you, Mr. Coulton!

Bart Stewart says

I tend not to write fan mail, either. But it's hard to overstate my satisfaction with this song, both on its own merits and how it makes Portal a better game.

1. It's in my BRAIN. No, really -- it's playing in my headphones on permaloop right now. Of course, that just means I'm hearing the real thing instead of my audio memory of it, which is what's been cycling non-stop in my brain since I finished Portal.

2. I think I'm safe in saying this song is another case of a "jingle meme" -- a catchy bit of music that you can't get out of your head, and which is easily spread to other people. An observation of this effect is documented by none other than Mark Twain back in 1876 (!) in his short story "A Literary Nightmare." (Check out the Wikipedia entry on that story.)

Interestingly, in his comments on the Mark Twain story as an example of a meme, Richard Dawkins describes the words of the Twain jingle as a "ridiculous fragment of versified instruction." I find that funny, given that the "singer" of "Still Alive" -- GLaDOS -- is responsible for instruction in Portal. If there's a Portal 2, wouldn't it be interesting if GLaDOS 2.0 "teaches" your character by singing pieces of a JC-written song?

3. When I first caught "Code Monkeys" a couple of months ago on G4TV (and I was a code monkey in the '80s, so there's another grab), I soon found I couldn't get that theme out of my head. Now that I've visited this site/blog, I know why. So is having a gift for creating musical hooks a blessing, or a curse?

4. Like joemorf, I loved that the first split into harmony in "Still Alive" occurred at the moment when GLaDOS is describing her own experience of being broken into pieces. I'm such a sucker for musical jokes like these; this one reminds me of the best of "P.D.Q. Bach" (AKA Peter Schickele), like the moment you realize that the opening to "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" has somehow morphed into the first notes of the theme from "Jaws."

5. If you step back from seeing the Portal-specific aspects of the lyrics and focus instead on Ellen McLain's wonderful vocal performance (even in computer-modified form), it's easy to imagine this song going mainstream. Someone who didn't play Portal is going to interpret the references to game events as metaphors (because we humans are good at that sort of thing). The obvious mainstream interpretation is of a woman who's been emotionally hurt by someone leaving her, but who is going to enjoy the best revenge: outliving the source of pain. I haven't heard other JC songs yet (yet!), but from what I've read I can't imagine that the use of lyrics that can be taken as metaphorical by non-Portal players is accidental.

6. What really makes me so inspired by this song that I wind up writing and posting stuff like this message is that while the song works just fine as a mostly self-contained ditty, all the parts of the song work together on many levels to create a much more compelling experience for some listeners:

a. It's a reward for successfully completing Portal's pure gameplay. [gameplay level]
b. It's a reward for reaching the conclusion of Portal's narrative -- as others have noted, this song is the cake. [story level]
c. It speaks directly to the player ("you"), enhancing the personal connection made in the game. [emotional level]
d. There are numerous references to gameplay events in Portal. ("cake," "tore me to pieces," etc.) [play experience level]
e. There are references to other games (the "Black Mesa" reference for Half-Life players). [gamer level]
f. Making a "neat gun for the people who are still alive" reminds me of typical first-person shooter gameplay, including in Half-Life. By racking up a high bodycount of enemies, you-the-player get rewarded for surviving with successively more powerful weapons. Perhaps that's worth a comment in a song about a game. [game criticism level]
g. The references and rhymes and lyric beats ("for the good of all of us... except the ones who are dead," "that was a joke, ha-ha, fat chance") are funny. [humor level]
h. Including a specially-created and self-referential "end credits" song gives Portal the production value of a major motion picture. [entertainment product level]
i. It seems complimentary to science geeks, who get a kick out of believing that their special skill ("I'm doing Science!" "I've experiments to run") is being appreciated by an artist. [geek/scientist level]
j. It's subversively cautionary toward science in the same way that Valve presents Black Mesa and Aperture as researchers so hypnotized by the pure coolness of "doing Science" that they create problems they didn't anticipate and can't control. ("Aperture Science: We do what we must because we can," "a neat gun") [social conscience level]

I could go on, but you get the point. The music and words function in several ways on multiple levels, but all the levels snap together to create a uniquely coherent whole... sort of like the way Portal itself balances action and thinking and feeling to create a unique gameplay experience.

For me, this song elevated a very good game into one of the best gaming experiences I've had in something like thirty years of computer gaming. Many thanks to Jonathan Coulton, Ellen McLain, and the people at Valve for a terrifically satisfying moment.


MDfamilygal says

I have to admit, I didn't play the game. But my sons were watching a run-through on YouTube, and I got sucked in for what is actually a very satisfying experience, even without playing. Ellen McLain's performance as the computer is so awesome, I could just watch the run through over and over as a mini movie - it's that good. Capped by your song, that so captures the subtle, quirky passive-aggressive personality of GlaDOS - it's pure entertainment.

I've bookmarked the YouTube of Still Alive at work, so when my mind starts to go numb I can play and revive. Thank you!

the Lumpy says

This is like, the best song ever. I don't think I would be able to get it out of my head even if I tried to, but I haven't had any reason to try. I had already heard a lot about Portal from my friends, so I felt like I understood most of the storyline, but after hearing this awesome song I feel like I need to go and buy the game just to experience it myself. And I will definitely check out some of your other songs.

Uchronic says

The game is undoubtedly awesome but so is this song.
It's a perfect ending.
Maybe the first time I stay sticked to the entire credits.

And thanks a lot to publish your lyrics and chords !

Agent X-127 says

I am 43 years old, and I have played innumerable computer games.

The "Still Alive" experience was the greatest reward I have gotten out of any computer game, EVER!

Thanks so much!

Shortstop says

Agree with Agent X-127. This song at the end of Portal was so good that I got chills, then was almost moved to tears, alternated with laughing.

Sarah says

I have had this song in my head constantly ... repeatedly ... it's STUCK DAMMIT!

Nice song. Must use as a ringtone :)

Unreal City says

Okay, I admit it--I may have gotten this backwards.

My sister sent me the clip on YouTube just because she liked the song (she's not a huge gamer), and I loved the song so much that I went out and bought the game just so I could see what it was talking about. Brilliant!

I'm going to have to go to one of your concerts now.

BrianOfNJ says

Hey I was just wondering... what tuning do you use on the ukulele? Cause that low A is too low for standard tuning and I got confuzzed. Anyway, I love the song. Played the Orange Box at my cousins one day when I was bored and beat it by 4:30 AM. It was the best experience of my life. (I decided that after hearing Still Alive, of course)

JoCo says

Brian: It's tuned like a standard ukulele, but just in a different key (don't remember which at the moment).

Uchronic says

Can anyone explain to me (or translate in french) : "to make a neat gun" ?


With the guitar chords, I can play it at home but don't understand this sentence...

Matt says

Absolutely great of you to put up the chords, keep up the good work.

Efogoto says

"Can anyone explain to me (or translate in french) : “to make a neat gun” ?"

"to make": fabricate, create, build
"gun": pistol, handgun, firearm
"neat": (slang) cool, spiffy, nifty

"Fabriquer un pistolet super" perhaps.

snerd says

I notice cornelius never did come up with the goods. I therefore declare him to be a monstrous liar.

Uchronic says

About the translation of "neat gun", I've noticed that in the French version of the game, it is translated by "faire des prouesses", which could be translated as "make feats/prowesses". Does that make sense?

Phil Armstrong says

Efogoto: "neat" in this context means "good", "clever", "great" rather than "tidy" or "well organised". Look at entries 4-6 in the dictionary.com definitions for "neat", rather than 1-3:


Does that help any?

(My wife suggests "malin" as a possible French equivalent.)


Phil Armstrong says

oops. That post should be addressed to Uchronic...

мухомор says

cool song!
Can't stop singing it

Amit Yadav says

Wonderful song, goes totaly with the game, and the lyrics are great, heartbreakin. Love the tune, and ofcourse the cute voice. Great combination of everything, hats off. :)

Michel says

I feel like i must say something.

I just finished playing portal and i am so touched by your song. It was really beautiful :) and the computer's voice just makes it better.

Gonna look if i can buy this on steam or itunes.

supervike says

I daresay this song is the best thing about an already awesome game.

Louis says

I heard this song on YouTube, and it was acctually the main reason i bought the game; and the thing that made me want to get to the end so much!

Megan says

Thanks for the chords! I have a ukulele too, any chance you could do the full tabulature? I'm just learning and it would be a great song to learn on?

JoeyfromVA says

I'm not really a gamer, but I came across this song on someone's myspace page and INSTANTLY loved it!! Thanks for explaining..I know more now than I did...LOL

Henry says

Just finished Portal this morning, and after listening to Still Alive I redid the whole "boss battle" so I could set a save point right before the song. Nice work, Mr. Coulton.

Also a uker; thanks for the lyrics and chords.

Sejster says

Yesterday I heard the song the first time, today I ordered the Orange Box. Of course I knew Portal before and wanted to play it sometime, but now I can't wait any longer. The downloads is running at the moment and it's very hard to overstate my satisfaction watching these points of data making a beautiful line onto my harddrive. Mr Coulton, if you'd just want to, i'd let you write the soundtrack to my life. Since you won't, I'll let Still Alive become part of it anyway. ;)

Dan says

I was away from my girlfriend (now fiance) for quite some time being deployed overseas, but when i saw her again when i took leave, we played and beat portal together. When we heard your song at the end credits, we knew that would definately be our song. I look forward to having the first dance with my wife to still alive.

however, i can't convince her that the cake should be a lie, however fitting it might have been...

Artist says

Perfect song, and the lyrics are wonderful! I want to use it as a ringtone.
Thanks for tab! Thanks so much!

William R Gray says

Yes, this song has me addicted more and more and I've not even finished the game.
Well using my infinate resources of friends and people who owe me favors, I plan to do a FULL BAND VERSION OF THIS SONG.
Yeah, but you'd never expect the BASSON to be used eh. Just for kicks I'll talk box the vocals with a group. I think this might be enjoyed.

Fizzl says

Awesome deduction from extrapolation. I bet you rock in the game of "6 steps".

Could you make a connection between Pope and Morgan Freeman in similiar manner? :)

Any joking aside. I have been hooked to this song since I finally bought Orange Box last week and played Portal through in one sitting. I had never heard of JoCo before, but now I found several funny songs and linked these to my friends.

Greetings from Finland! :)

James says

just wow,
your song, "Still Alive," is a masterpiece.
I can see it now: Bach, Beethoven, Jonathan Coulton.
This song is one of the best pieces of the decade.
From me and the rest of the world, Thank You.
Your fan,

James says

Your song gave me a new look on life...
This is one I will always treasure.
I hope you don't mind, I downloaded the MP3
I bought the game if that makes up for it....

James says

I bought the game because I loved the song,

Skating Zebra says

This was the best ending song to anything ever; game, movie, audiotape, whatever. Normally I don't even care about ending credits, but I listened and watched and played Portal again just so I could hear the song.

I'm being so sincere right now...

pinky/sean says

Hey Jonathan, after my friend and I heard this song at ur concert(Birchmere) we were tottaly amased. The only problem was , we didn,t get to here the title of the song. So after the concert we spent an hour tryng to look up the title and then the game . So now i know that the song title is Still alive, and that you can get the Orange Box for 45.95 + shiping and handleing. And portal is one of the best looking games ever!!

Thank you for being


Jes-ka says

The song is absolutely fabulous and I am so excited to be able to play it on Rockband!!!

I saw you at PAX and you were A-MAZE-ING.

As a fellow Skullmonkeys enthusiast, I think you should do a cover of the Bonus Room song. I think you would rock it, and the bigger upside is that it would open more eyes to such a masterpiece.

Make it so!!!

amanda says

I love you guys! I play flute is there any place i can find a flute part?

SparcMan says

Aperture Labs
Form 77761: Internal Memo

Re: Still Alive written by Jonathan Coulton

This is a triumph.
I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS!
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

This song has been seriously stuck in my head since I heard it. I had to add it to my MP3 collection on my phone.
Whats funny is that I didn't realize this song was my JC until I was looking for more stuff about the game with Google and I saw the link to this blog and I wondered what Jonathan had to say about the game. After realizing that this song was written by JC, I was like "Ah! That's why the song is so cool!"
I'm relieved to see that I'm not the only one that listens to this song over and over as if I've got attention deficit disorder.
This isn't the first time Jonathan's songs have done this to me either - Code Monkey had much the same effect on me.
The cake may have been a lie, but this is much better treat anyways.
Great work JC!

Nate B. says

An article on Portal was in the Boston Globe today just for your reading pleasure

Ulrik Von Stomp says

ulrik like!!

guitarist says

I just downloaded this song for Rock Band. This is the first time I have heard of it actually and I used to consider myself a gamer. This song is really fun to play on the game and real guitar. Then I read the lyrics and read the background on the song and realized how powerful it really is.

Bill says

I've never played this game (I just don't have the time...), but I love this song. The JC Mix, for my money, is better. I think I agree with some of the other posts in that this is also a great break-up song.
Maybe I'm just crazy, but I mean c'mon...look at the lyrics. It can definitely be read literally as an in-game part, or as a break-up song. That's what makes this song so great, its ability to work on so many levels.

Bitter Lemon says

Crack Babies! That is what I said when I heard this song!

Jakob says

There is a very nice "Animated Amiga Tribute" by Eric Schwartz using this song, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mg6wrYCT9Q . Strangely enough the text seem to fit very well. But of course, really it does not: what does fit is the wonderful atmosphere of the song: melancholic, half resigned, half in denial; very suitable for the nostalgic feeling many former Amiga users feel for their former computer (i.e. their childhood, really).

Daniel says

Fantastic song! I came acros this site looking for the guitar tabs for Im Still Alive. Its got it all and im looking forward to listening your other music.
Best regards,

Polter says

OMG! OMG!!! The chords! The chords! Thanks for the chords!!! A great clever song for a great clever game!!! THIS IS A TRIUMPH!!!

"...We are very very happy for your success. We are throwing a party in honor of your tremendous success. ...A party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party. ...Assume the 'Party Escort Submission Position' or you will miss the party. Rest assured that you yourself will cut the cake."

Not in cruelty
Not in wrath
The REAPER came today
An ANGEL visited
this gray path
And took the cube away.

... The cake is a lie...

Lewis Anderson says

The Cake IS a lie!!!!!

I read every single part of that, I went portal mad when i got the Orange Box for Christmas.
I had heard of Still Alive before, but i just didnt know where it was exactly from.
I set Still Alive up to play when I load a map on Gmod aswell, i dunno how though off the top of my head, i looked at a tutorial.

Anyways, well done with Still Alive!

Diego says

Great , great son . What a perfect choice from the Valve Guys. I am sure they thought: "This artist is nerdy enough to understand the game to its core and its a great compositor, lets give him a piece of our cake" XD

Thanks again for a great ending for a fabolous game.

Ames says

Fantastic Song! Absolutely brilliant! After listening to it I went and listened to some of your other songs and thought they were great as well. I'll be looking fot your CDs right quick. I have also decided that b flat minor 7 (need a music font) is the best chord ever-and here I thought that was eminor.....
Have you ever thought of doing a musical? I wish you would!

Olivia says

Best song in gaming history.
I love how it sums up the whole game, and says that they will have another game b/c shes still alive.
and also, there is a cake... they just dont give it to you =p

Nightingale says


Zavie says

Man, I bought the game this week, ended it, and I love the song as much as the rest of the game. It's a freaking nice job you did.
Thank you very very much for it! :-)

Michael says

The ending sequence of Portal is sure one of the best in gaming. This song is simply so... touching. Oh God I adore Valve and Coulton, and GLaDOS. Pity that all fans of Half-Life will have to wait years 'till Valve releases more Half-Life.

Konn says

Wow. The song is simple genius!!
Heard this song on youtube awhile ago, now I'm seriously thinking of getting the game.

More Power!

chris says

"My wife hates me for playing the song over and over, "

You need a toddler. Mine says "Can I have more of the silly song, pleeeease?" whenever I try to turn it off. Fine with me.

Loved the song the first time though. Then I enjoyed learning more about the song and the voice actress while playing through with the commentary on (also, what a great idea!). Bought it from iTunes that same evening. Do you get anything from those sales? You said it was done on commission, so probably not, eh?

Great song! Thanks!

Giggi says

I just finished the game yesterday and is great, but yout song is AWESOME !
Good Job Jonathan, good job ! :-)


Scott says

I love this song... and I especially love it that you used a project as an excuse to buy a ukulele. I can soooooo relate to that!

Awesome job, man. Congrats!

roboduck says

I really need to get this game!!!!

Go faster money!

Peppuh says

Yesterday I finished the game, and your song is the perfect ending for a great game. Keep on the good job!!

Nerdette says

It totally makes the ending of the game 10x better!

Browning says

I just finished Portal for the third time.
Once again I was so moved by Jonathans' song and Ms McLains rendition,
I had to leave my thanks' and congrats.
Way to go all at VALVe.
The only other video game music that has touched me was the main theme
for the first Tomb Raider.
I've been playing "Still Alive" constantly.
Thanks for the cake.

Rockband Junkie says

I'm sure you probably know that they have incorporated your song into Rockband. I ran across it last week and have played along with it on all the instruments, then sang my heart out and still can't stop! It's a wonderful song and we are so lucky that it has crossed over into other games.
So glad this site is here too, because the words are simply bizarre with out knowing the basis of the song - I'm liking it even more now.
oh yes and thanks for the cake!

Tom says

This is the best song I've ever heard on a game. Ever. I love it, and beyond that I'm addicted to the song. I thought it was brilliant when I beat portal, and even people who are completely unfamiliar with the game think "still alive" is hilarious.

You are a genius. And if it is true that this is on rock band, then I will be purchasing rock band tonight.

Ben says

I enjoyed the song immensely. So much so that I had to download it through Amazon. As enjoyable as the game's ending is, the song really elevates the experience. Fantastic satire. I laughed, I felt bad for Glados, I feared Glados, then I laughed some more, then I really wanted some cake.

sPIKE says


You should know this song introduced to your music _and_ the game. A friend of mine had played your stuff at a party before, but it didn't click until I was at a graduation party for my friends' daughter when everyone under 25 suddenly burst into song. Mentioning this to my gf (also under 25), she brought up the walkthroughs for Portal on Youtube, at which point your song made sense. It will be played at at my funeral.

andrea says

My son (and me too) are singing "still alive" since two weeks ago....
we are becoming crazy!!! it's too nice!!!!
Thanks by us!

And, now we know... the cake i a lie!

Mihail Dudin says

Very nice song and game! (sorry, my english is bad, I'm from Russia)
Thanks! I like this song! I can't say more because I know english badly.
I am still alive!!! :-)

Finn says

Thank you Mr Coulton for a great song. I would love for you or Valve (they own the song now?) to release a karaoke version or at least an instrumental version so I can make a karaoke version myself. Thanks again.

OldManLink says

Thank you for a most magnificent earworm, Jonathan!

I only recently bought the game (for PS3), and I loved the song so much that I made a game save right before the end, just so that I could listen to it over and over.

This is the way video game music is supposed to be, kudos!

Monochrome says



its a freakin masterpeice

Cronny says

I was just Youtubing still alive because I freaking love it and I was so delighted (but not at all surprised) when I found out you wrote it! I first heard about you through that TMBG fan podcast, TheyNow, and I've become a big admirer of your work and your sensibilities.

I'm also incredibly jealous that you got to work with Valve. Have you heard anything about a Portal sequel? I know you probably can't say anything... Just blink once for yes or twice for yes.

Marco says

This was a triumph
I’m making a note here: huge success!

Really good job making Still Alive.

Jon Baker says

I just went to a filksing, and never having heard "Still Alive", heard at least half a dozen filks of it.

Someone quipped, "Still Alive is today's Fuel to Feed the Drive", another song that was endlessly filked in the 1980s.

Fool to feed the drive, Milk to feed the cat, etc.

Diranda says

Portal FTW! (Sorry, also a Wow player)
I love this song! This song was actually what got me to find a copy of the Orange Box so I could play Portal. My 9 year old son is also hooked on this game and he LOVES the song as well.

It's very cool that "Still Alive" is available for Rock Band, I just wish we had it. We've got Guitar Hero, so if you ever decide to release a version for GH, we'd be ecstatic!

Julie & Nathan (9)

Syn Diesel says

Jonathan Coulton, you are a post-modern Libertarian bard. They should give out Oscars for what you do. Good job.

Phil says

The BbM7, where can I find finger pickings for it? I've been stuck listening to this song, and I can't find it. Also, you kind of mixed me up by making it a capital M, which sometimes means major. I'm also still not sure. Anyone find the finger pickings?

Oh, and GREAT song!

JoCo says

Phil: That's a B Major 7th chord, that's what the M means. Bm7 would be a B Minor 7th chord. You can find fingerings for it at any one of the online guitar chord sites, they're a good resource for stuff like this.

Andrew T. Coleman says

I love the song. Heard of it while researching portal, and I am now learning how to play it. I am kind of surprised that this thread isn't dead yet, and yes, I am geek enough to have read every post...

Oh, and JoCo, two things.

1. You haven't said yet what key the uke in this song is tuned to, and

2. While reading the wiki page (joco wiki) for Octopus, it says that you said that the origional youtube octopus vs shark video was probably against copywrite rules, while the video is under the official national geographic channel on youtube... and I am the only person who has left a comment about your song on it. And yes, I am that much of a nerd (mostly of the nerdcore songwriter blog reading variety).

Dick Platt says

Hello J-Dog! I have just completed Portal and I now have become obsessed with "Still Alive". It's a beautifully written song that encompasses so much at the end of the game. I've been learning to play it, but I just read that you play it on a Ukulele! So, I'm going to dig mine out and give it a spin. Keep up the excellent work and I look forward to your next project. P.S. If you like parody Heavy Metal then check out my band Evil Scarecrow. It might be up your street. Lots of Love Dick (Brother Pain) x x x

Steph says

I love the soundtrack, you and valve did a great thing with the whole ending sequence. Rarely did a game have such a great finish!

Heather says

Wow, this song is genius!! The game is awesome, and this was a cool way to end it!

Heather says

And thanks for posting the chords!

Jameson says


That is all.

ValentineS says

I heard the song first on the piano medley you mentioned a bit ago, but only just looked into the song today. I couldn't find it with your other songs so I started getting the story on it. I passed on Portal, but now that I know what a sick, twisted, funny song it really is (oh, and the game too) I'm gonna pick up a copy. I'm looking for a way to let them know they got a sale directly from having your song in the game.

Oh, I'm bringing the crew to see you live in Chicago or Ann Arbor depending on schedules (probably Ann Arbor). Bring your CDs and keep a set back for me will ya? I was gonna buy the entire MP3 set, but I'd rather pickup the CDs.

Trevor says

This game was great and the song is alsome! The cake is not a lie I have found it

dag says

I finally played Portal, it was great... When the credits came up at the end I instantly fell in love with this song! It's absolutely brilliant!!... now I just need to get my friends to play this game so they can enjoy this song as much as I do =)

I think I've listened to this song 20 times today... still not over it. You're a genius!

Brody says

I LOVED the song and the way it ties into the whole game. this is by far the best credit song i have ever heard. you rock

KimOhNo says

still listening and humming every day :)

Salomon says

I've a question -- when you play the song backwards, you hear some... strange things. I guess you knew that, but why did you do it? :P

JoCo says

Salomon - I don't know what you mean. Seriously. What do you hear when you play it backwards?

Anonymous says

Backmasking is a myth, basically. You play anything backwards and you'll hear some strange words. The human brain just looks for them. But it's never intentionally done by the artist.

patagoniantruthfish says

Hi. I'm late to the party. Just wanted to say (like everyone above) wow! What an awesome song. I'm off to the iTunes store now to buy it. There really is cake.

Justin says

well my sister played portal on the xbox 360 and she did find the cake the cake is not a lie i seen it with my own two eyes on my own tv screen!

Topher says

This is my Favorite song out of all of your work.

Portal was a wonderful game, and I was sad to finish it. Still Alive was a wonderful surprise, and great way to finish the game.

Ashley Foy says

This song is amazing. I'm thrilled you posted the guitar chords, thank you SO much for that.

?!?! says

what dose this song mean. wikipedia says it's chells report

Frungi says

?!?!: Wikipedia is not a reliable source, according to itself… wait, what?
Anyway, what do you mean what does it mean? The song’s about the game, and the fact that GLaDOS is still alive.

Miss says

Who brought the cake?

BrianJ. says

Just finished Portal (yeah, I'm behind the curve). And, I watched the credits like I do on every game. What an awesome surprise to find your song! I was practically singing along with it by the end! I love how ironic you make it! Genius. Just bought it on amazon. Thanks.

PJG says

What can I say that hasn't been said?!

- Phil

Blitzenn says

I think you should pursue and album of songs in the portal theme, passive aggressive computer stuff, as a follow-up. It would sell like crazy to all of those portal fans. Make it about systems that have over-arching desires to 'fix' humanity, social problems, deviant nature or even regular human habit. It's that slightly disturbing mis-interpretation the computer voice takes that makes it very enjoyable. It's a niche, wring it for everything it's worth! (before someone else does).

Winston Smith says

Hey Jon, is there an official version of YOUR rendition rather than Ellens? If you ignore the lyrics, it totally doesn't sound like a videogame song! xD

Great track though, and the lyrics give it that Gamer humour ;)

A Friend says

I played this game about a year ago and have had the song in my head ever since. My girlfriend at the time and I played through the game and loved it immensely. But, more importantly, the song became very special to us. In time, we came to a painful end, but remained friendly. We talked months after the breakup and we discussed how our filters had changed and the song had gone from bouncy and fun to a bittersweet farewell. Now, many months later, the pain of the split has subsided and we've spoken of the song's newest meaning, "So I'm glad I got burned, think of all the things we learned..." Thank you for writing a song that works so masterfully. I never in my life thought I would call a song from a video game a masterpiece in its own right, but this one truly is.

Mathew Pierce says

I truly appreciate this song. Being in the software industry, even though a different sector (printing and imaging) I know the pressures and frustration on getting a project to completion. Knowing that a class from Digipen had produced this game (under a different name and project - Narbacular Drop I believe), when the lines, "Now these points of data make a beautiful line. And we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time" were sung I actually teared up a bit knowing what those guys had gone through. Thanks for capturing that bit in the song, it was truly meaningful on another level.

MusicGear4u says

The cake is a lie! Very well done sir...this is a perfect fit and impressive all around.

Steve Cash says

Hey, loved the song! Just wondering, did you ever get a chance to listen to the cover of it I made?

Download-able from:


I would LOVE your feedback! Thanks!

Bob Fingerman says

I'm late to the Portal party, but I just completed it and the sweet icing on the cake was that song, which I liked so much I just bought it on iTunes. Fantastic.

BTW, I saw you at the Brooklyn Book Fair, with David Cross, Jonathan Ames, et al, and really enjoyed your set.

Voyagerfan5761 says

The cake may be a lie, but the icing is very real. This song is awesome, and I've had it stuck in my head for a week straight ever since a friend pointed me to it. (I've been meaning to play Portal, but that hasn't happened.)

Timothy Roche says

Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for the brilliant song! Its amazing how it's able to be kinda sweet and cute and yet simultaneously creepy and foreboding. You obviously had a great character to write for, and I hope you're involved with the sequel somehow. I'm doing my best to not look up details about it so I can be surprised when it finally rolls around.

Anywho, awesome work. Hope all is well.

dcw says

and this, i believe, is the monument to your success - yes, more so than having it as a playable song in RockBand:

Desemac says

I don't know anything about the game, but I love this song. I'm going to have my little band learn it and perform it as a nonsense song at shows... probably some folks will know more about it than I ever will, but I think it's great. As nonsense (to me) it's got a great story. Hmm... how do I license it from you if I want to record it??? :-)

Nick says


Miriam English says

Wow... after all this time... STILL ALIVE...

Daniel K says

This may be the longest comment thread I've even seen. The Library of Congress is looking into it.

Evan Edinger says

I wish someone would post the official chords for the live acoustic version :/

Munkiman says

[quote]I wish someone would post the official chords for the live acoustic version :/[/quote]
I'm actually working it out now, it's really weird because in the original blog post John says it starts in D, but on the acoustic he starts by picking notes from an A chord. That's not surprising because I scale down a few notes sometimes for ease of playing or singing which I assumed he was doing. What makes it weird to me is, the tab shows it as D-Bm-D-Bm then Em, etc... I'm sure this is correct for the game music. On the acoustic version though, he starts in A and still moves to Em. WTF>??

All that aside, here is my current progress for the acoustic translation of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxNmeMklFk8

Intro and verse

The rest should be fairly easy using his tab. Even though it seems like a different key in the acoustic version, it still matches somehow. I'm stupid though so don't mind me, just play along with him and see for yourself =)

Munkiman says

Oh and I guess to oversimplify, the chord progression once things get moving is:

A-F# (over and over and over)

B - E - A

StillAlive says

A - F#m
Bm - E

A - F#m
Bm - E - F

-change key (chorus)-

C - G - F - C
C - G - F - C
Dm - G - C - Am
F - E - A ...