Still Alive

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This article is about the song. For the game, see Portal: Still Alive.

Still Alive

October 10, 2007


Indie rock




Ellen McLain


Jonathan Coulton

Featured on

The Orange Box Original Soundtrack

"Still Alive"[1] is a song featured in Portal. It is sung from the perspective of GLaDOS and used as the song that runs over the game's credits. It was written by Jonathan Coulton and performed by Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS.[2]


[edit] Overview

Screenshot of the Portal end credits, featuring the credits, the "Still Alive" lyrics and a related image, here the science symbol.

While the song is played, the lyrics are displayed on the left of the screen as a letter written by GLaDOS to Chell, with other words not featured in the song, the words being written at the same time they are sung. On the right of the screen, the game credits roll, and under it logos of words said in the song displayed in ASCII art follow each other, such as the Aperture Science logo, the Black Mesa logo, a fire or a piece of cake. The lyrics consists of "Forms" similar to the ones used for the Enrichment Center Test Subject Application Process on the first verse is titled "FORM-29827281-12: Test Assessment Report", the second verse is titled "FORM-55551-5: Personnel File Addendum", and the bridge / third verse is titled "FORM-55551-6: Personnel File Addendum Addendum". The postscripts do not belong to a form.

Although her physical form was comprehensively destroyed by Chell at the end of Portal, "Still Alive" suggests that GLaDOS is still functional, is "not even angry" at Chell for what she has done, and considers the monitoring of her performance through the Test Chambers a "huge success" for those who are "still alive". This is confirmed in Portal 2, where GLaDOS is indeed still "alive" and forces Chell to resume her tests.

[edit] History and recording

Jonathan Coulton.

The idea of having a song in Portal during the credits was inspired by God Hand, one of Erik Wolpaw's all time favorite games.[3]

Jonathan Coulton got involved with Valve after two developers approached him following a concert in Seattle. They asked him if he would like to write music for the company, and due to his fandom for the Half-Life series, he immediately accepted. After discussing what they should do, he and the developers settled on working on Portal. He stated that GLaDOS' passive-aggressive nature, which he shared, made it difficult to get her voice out of his head. When asked why more video games do not end in song, he stated that while movies are easier to convey with a story, it is more difficult to do in video games. As a result, GLaDOS singing after the player has grown accustomed to her, and appears very natural.[4] Kim Swift explained that they chose to play "Still Alive" during the ending so that players would leave the game happy.[5]

[edit] Reception

The song received significant praise for its humor and the quality of its performance. The Rice Thresher editor Joe Dwyer called the song "hilarious".[6] IGN editor Ryan Geddes called it the best game-ending song of all time.[7] Ellen McLain felt that Jonathan Coulton did a good job capturing GLaDOS with the song.[8]

In 2008, Coulton performed the song alongside Felicia Day at the Penny Arcade Expo, because he "knew it was one of those things that would just make people's heads explode". The song was also performed at the 2009 Press Start -Symphony of Games-, a yearly Japanese concert event to showcase the musical works of video games. "Still Alive" is the first Western song to be performed at the show, which included a Japanese translation by Kazushige Nojima, writer for several Final Fantasy games, and arrangement for the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Given the minimal exposure of Portal in Japan, Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Nintendo's Kirby and Super Smash Bros. series, demonstrated the game to the audience prior to the performance.[9][10]

[edit] Versions

"Still Alive" score after being played in Rock Band.

"Still Alive" is featured in The Orange Box Original Soundtrack, containing both the original version and remix sung by Coulton himself.[11] An upbeat, instrumental version of the song can be heard on 85.2 FM on the radios dotting the Enrichment Center.

[edit] In Rock Band

In 2008, "Still Alive" was featured as a free downloadable song in multiple games in the Rock Band series for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, including Rock Band, Rock Band 2, and Rock Band Unplugged[12][13][14] to thank players for supporting the series.[15] After complaints about Rock Band Unplugged's version not being free, this was rectified and anyone who paid for it had their money refunded.[16] The Rock Band version is performed by Jonathan Coulton and three others.[17]

[edit] Trivia

  • During the song, GLaDOS' voice is higher-pitched than it usually is, sounding at around the same pitch as a Sentry Turret.
  • In Team Fortress 2, "Still Alive" is one of the names of the bots.

[edit] Lyrics

The following lyrics are displayed as in the Portal credits, with the same text and background colors, and a similar font. The additional, unsung quotes are brighter; the lyrics not appearing on screen are darker.

Forms FORM-29827281-12:
Test Assessment Report

This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here:
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.

Forms FORM-55551-5:
Personnel File Addendum:

Dear <<Subject Name Here>>,

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.

Forms FORM-55551-6:
Personnel File Addendum Addendum:

One last thing:

Go ahead and leave me.
I think I prefer to stay inside.
Maybe you'll find someone else
to help you.
Maybe Black Mesa...
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.

PS: And believe me I am
still alive.
PPS: I'm doing Science and I'm
still alive.
PPPS: I feel FANTASTIC and I'm
still alive.

While you're dying I'll be
still alive.

And when you're dead I will be
still alive.


Still alive.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] References

  1. Portal credits
  2. Game Music Showdown: Mirror's Edge Vs. Portal. IGN (2008-10-22). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  3. Chell Almost Married A Turret In Portal 2 on Game Informer
  4. Portal: Thank you for the Music. Computer and Video Games (2007-12-28). Retrieved on 2009-08-24.
  5. Best Of GDC: The Secrets Of Portal's Huge Success. Gamasutra (2008-02-27). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  6. Mirror's Edge remix a good listen. The Rice Thresher (2008-11-14). Retrieved on 2009-08-24.
  7. On the DLC: A Man Named Angus. IGN (2008-04-04). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  8. GLaDOS Speaks. IGN (2007-10-31). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  9. Jeriaska (2009-09-02). Interview: Jonathan Coulton On 'Still Alive', PAX Style. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2009-09-02.
  10. Jeriaska (2009-08-10). Sound Current: 2009 Press Start Symphony of Games Concert Report. Game Set Watch. Retrieved on 2009-08-10.
  11. The Orange Box Original Soundtrack released on Steam. Music 4 Games (2007-12-24). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  12. PSN Update (04.17.08). IGN (2008-04-17). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  13. Classics from Bowie, The Police, and Others Launch in Wii Rock Band Music Store. IGN (2009-05-26). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  14. Rock Band Unplugged DLC Showdown (07.02.09). IGN (2009-07-02). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  15. Portal Song 'Still Alive' Coming to Rock Band. IGN (20098-03-31). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  16. Rock Band Unplugged Refund. IGN (2009-07-16). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
  17. Jonathan Coulton performs "Still Alive" in Rock Band. Ars Technica (2008-02-25). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.

[edit] External links

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