"This was a triumph"

I stumbled across this song on YouTube the other day, and was so taken by it's quirky and offbeat humour that I went and bought the game the next day (the video is of the end-credits of Portal). This may be the first time I bought a video game just because of the theme song. Portal is one of the most inventive, original, and genuinely entertaining games to come out recently, not the least because of the attention paid to the characterisation. Most video games are made, but the best ones are written: they're stories with full-fledged and multi-dimensional characters and a real plot. That's why video game makers make such awful games, while video game writers are creating stories - whether epic, comedic, tragic, or elegaic - that add to the narrative backbone of this age.

Of course, one of the dangers of an education in Literature is the tendency to analyse any piece of text before you. I offer this small piece of analysis for those of you interested in such things: an observation that one of the reasons why this song is so compelling (for me anyway) is how phrase "Still Alive", the song title, is used in three very different ways in the same song.

"Still alive" can be hopeful - as in a sentence such as "despite the force of the explosion, they were still alive" as well as a call to action, as in "we have to help those who are still alive".
That would be the sense in which it is used in the second verse: "Think of all the thing's we've learned / for the people who are still alive"

"Still alive" can also carry a defiant note - "they threw everything they had at me, but I'm still alive!". That would be the end of the song: "While you're dying I'll be still alive / and when you're dead I will be still alive"

Finally, "still alive" can be ominous and sinister - as in "they carried out gruesome experiments on the rats while they were still alive" - and that is definitely the sense you get in the third stanza: "I've experiments to run / There is research to be done / on the people who are still alive"

Taken altogether, and sung in the childish sing-song voice of GLaDOS, this makes this song a little more thought provoking than your normal theme song. But most of all, it's fun.


Anonymous said…
hey man. you're right. it's an addictive song/tune. i didn't know portal was on the mac too. happy new year dude. =) wes

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