Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What happens when you cross "Office Space" with "Dawn of the Dead"?

What happens when you cross "Office Space" with "Dawn of the Dead"?  You get a terrific song by Jonathan Coulton, that's what. Weren't we just talking about losing your soul in the corporate world a little while ago?  How about losing your brains instead?

Coulton writes a blog - but with songs every week.  I found out about him by way of Ned Batchelder and others in the blogosphere linking to his song "Code Monkey", which is a hilarious rock ballad about the twin joys of junk food and caffeinated beverages, contrasted with the twin sorrows of unrequited crushes and PHB micromangement.

Coulton's songs are catchy and hard to get out of your head, which can be problematic at times.  After hearing "Re: Your Brains" just once, Leslie found herself singing it while at work without really meaning to.  And once you hear it, you'll understand why that's really really funny, in a very sick kind of way.

If you liked Futurama, you'll probably also like Coulton's songs "Chiron Beta Prime" and "The Future Soon", which contain lots of references to robot overlords enslaving humans, evil Santas with glowing red eyes, and maybe even the reasons why Professor Farnsworth might have become a mad scientist in the first place.  (There are no direct references to Futurama, mind you, just similar humor and themes.)

Another song, "Skullcrusher Mountain", also takes on the theme of misunderstood evil geniuses in a hilarious way -- sort of what the recent pop song "Breakfast At Tiffany's" might have been like if it were written by a Bond villain.

What's really cool about these songs, in my opinion anyway, is that these are not just quick ditties thrown together for a laugh.  The songs are richly arranged and instrumented, forcing you to take them seriously as music.  They are catchy and fun to listen to, long after your initial shock and laughter at the lyrics have faded.

Anyway, if you like this sort of thing at all, go check it out -- but listen to the songs before you read the lyrics, as a lot of the rhymes and other musical tricks fall flat if you're not hearing them, and there's nothing in the written lyrics that will tell you how to pace and syncopate the lines just so.

But if you prefer to hear them in streaming form without downloading the .mp3's, just visit his main song list. I ended up buying all of the songs I mentioned above, plus the math rock ditty "Mandelbrot Set", an ode to "Ikea", and a haunting song called "I Crush Everything", about the regrets of a giant squid.  (You have to listen to it to understand.)  I dunno how the dude lives on $1 a track, having quit his day job last August to become a full time musician, but naturally I wish him all the best.

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