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|This article is about the song. For the game, see Portal: Still Alive.|
"Still Alive" 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, who also voices GLaDOS.
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 ApertureScience.com: 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.
During the song, GLaDOS's voice is higher-pitched than it normally is, sounding at around the same pitch as a Sentry Turret.
History and recording
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. Kim Swift explained that they chose to play "Still Alive" during the ending so that players would leave the game happy.
The song received significant praise for its humor and the quality of its performance:
- The Rice Thresher editor Joe Dwyer called the song "hilarious".
- McLain felt that Jonathan Coulton did a good job capturing GLaDOS with the song.
- IGN editor Ryan Geddes called it the best game-ending song of all time.
- 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, a writer of 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.
"Still Alive" is featured in The Orange Box Original Soundtrack, containing both the original version and remix sung by Coulton himself. An upbeat, instrumental version of the song can be heard on 85.2 FM on the radios dotting the Enrichment Center.
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 to thank players for supporting the series. After complaints about Rock Band Unplugged's version not being free, this was rectified and anyone who paid for it had their money refunded.
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:
Test Assessment Report
- In Team Fortress 2, Still Alive is one of the names of the bots.
- Portal credits
- Game Music Showdown: Mirror's Edge Vs. Portal. IGN (2008-10-22). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Portal: Thank you for the Music. Computer and Video Games (2007-12-28). Retrieved on 2009-08-24.
- Best Of GDC: The Secrets Of Portal's Huge Success. Gamasutra (2008-02-27). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Mirror's Edge remix a good listen. The Rice Thresher (2008-11-14). Retrieved on 2009-08-24.
- GLaDOS Speaks. IGN (2007-10-31). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- On the DLC: A Man Named Angus. IGN (2008-04-04). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Jeriaska (2009-09-02). Interview: Jonathan Coulton On 'Still Alive', PAX Style. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2009-09-02.
- Jeriaska (2009-08-10). Sound Current: 2009 Press Start Symphony of Games Concert Report. Game Set Watch. Retrieved on 2009-08-10.
- The Orange Box Original Soundtrack released on Steam. Music 4 Games (2007-12-24). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- PSN Update (04.17.08). IGN (2008-04-17). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Classics from Bowie, The Police, and Others Launch in Wii Rock Band Music Store. IGN (2009-05-26). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Rock Band Unplugged DLC Showdown (07.02.09). IGN (2009-07-02). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Portal Song 'Still Alive' Coming to Rock Band. IGN (20098-03-31). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
- Rock Band Unplugged Refund. IGN (2009-07-16). Retrieved on 2009-08-25.
|Soundtracks||Half-Life (Opposing Force • Blue Shift) • Half-Life 2 (Episode One • Episode Two) • Half-Life: Alyx • Portal • Portal 2 • The Orange Box|
|Songs||Cara Mia Addio! • Exile Vilify • GLaDOS' Song • Still Alive • Want You Gone • You Wouldn't Know|
|Composers||Kelly Bailey • Jonathan Coulton • Chris Jensen • Mike Morasky • The National|
|Other||Half-Life: Further Data • Mishaps in the Reactor Chamber|