January 19, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless
Inspired by the absolutely awesome news (ta Jane!) that singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton - the composer of the spectacularly catchy Portal end-theme 'Still Alive' - is playing a gig in San Francisco on the Friday of Game Developers Conference, GameSetWatch had a fun thought.
So, the Internet is good with this whole 'user contributed content' thing. And 'Still Alive' is so damn hummable, it hurts. So, could we put together a Top 12 of 'Still Alive' cover versions, as posted on ubiquitous and gigantic video upload megalopolis YouTube? Oh boy, we could - and here's the sometimes delightful, sometimes painful results:
12. 'Still Alive' - The Fursuit Version
Needless to say, furries are some of the first people to seize on a trend and 'enhance' it to their level, hence the 'Still Alive' (Fursuit Edition), which is, simply enough, somebody in a furry suit playing the song on a keyboard. User comments include: 'I wish I learned a fursuit friendly instrument the guitar doesn't lend itself to being easily played in a fursuit'. Sigh.
11. A 'Still Alive' FPS Shooting Duet?
Possibly the video that came closest to blowing my mind, this performance was conducted using Garry's Mod for Half-Life 2, with one player shooting chords from a distance and the other one hitting the melody from close up. Complete insanity.
10. Bizarre 'J-Pop' Cover Version
You've always wanted to see an Asian lady in dungarees and a beret playing on a kids playset while singing along to a xylophone-replete cover of 'Still Alive', right? OK, just checking, cos that's what you're getting with Portal " Still Alive" by Cana:n Cana:n.
9. The Band Bros DS Cover
The Japan-only DS title Daigasso! Band Brothers allows you to compose music using the touchscreen after you unlock 'score maker pro' in the game - hence this not unreasonable cover version using that app.
8. Hatsune Miku Takes A Hack At It
For those not in the know, Hatsune Miko is a major Japanese craze, sophisticated voice synthesis software which allows any geeked-out otaku to compose, synthetically create and replay vocals from a super-cute Japanese cybergirl - hence this version, using Yamaha's Vocaloid tech to good, slightly Japanese accent-tinged effects.
7. Incredibly Awkward Bedroom Singalong
This version had one solitary view when I came across it, which was more because it was new than particularly terrible, of course, but if you enjoy nerdy girls with obvious gothloli leanings singing along using a webcam - with occasional use of Bob Dylan-esque cards - then, uhh, go right ahead.
6. The Player Piano Is 'Still Alive'
Didn't realize that today's breed of player piano can be programmed pretty easily, apparently, and so we get this spookiness - a piano _playing itself_ and blasting out 'Still Alive', thanks to a reader request, apparently. Does the piano want cake? Is that it?
5. The LipSync Is The Message
Where would we be without the lipsync-ing webcam video? In a world without Numa Numa Kid, that's where, so we have to thanks 'RaisinAznJason' for this particular version, with some strangely choirboy-like emoting and choppy audio - but hey, Portal folks, someone likes your ending song enough to randomly emote to it.
4. The Revenge Of Vocaloid
Wait, we're not done with Hatsune Miko - here's a Japanese-language cover of 'Still Alive', also done with the Vocaloid 2 synthetic voice software, and actually replete with some nice vibrato, slide, and delicate vocal phrasing, I reckon. Great job, if no actual accompanying video to speak of.
3. The Devil Music Version
Possibly the strangest of all of the versions on YouTube, this has a simple logo screen and the song played backwards, for no discernable reason. However, it sounds much cooler than one would expect, and there's a rash of inevitable comments insisting GLaDOS is saying rude, (even more) diabolical things only now revealed by the backwards spin. Suuure.
2. The Song, 'Covered' By The Auteur
OK, this is somewhat cheating, but here's Jonathan Coulton himself appearing on the AT&T Tech Channel (!), with a beautifully simple version of 'Still Alive', just him, acoustic guitar, and a grinning idiot eating cake.
1. Still Alive On 8080
Linked quite a bit recently and topping our largely random chart, this version geeks out in style: "Everything on the terminals and sound is controlled by an Intel 8080 Microprocessor at 2MHz. The sound chip is a MOS SID (From a Commodore 64)." And yes, the source code is available.