Skip to content
Culture & Religion

The “Internet Famous” Jonathan Coulton

Singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton is so famous that you might never have heard of him. That’s because he’s “internet famous” (i.e. he has a passionate fan base that he’s built up online, but his face isn’t recognizable enough that he would get stopped by people on the street).

In his Big Think interview, Coulton describes the process of writing a comedy song, saying that his inspiration usually comes from a nugget: a line, an image, or even something a character would say. Coulton has had many songs

that have gone viral

; from his breakout tune “Code Monkey,” which is

about a sad software developer, to “The Future Soon,” a song

about a depressed pre-teen who imagines a world where technology saves


While many of Coulton’s songs are comedic, he says comes up with his best ideas by listening to sad bluegrass. His favorite song? “My Precious Children” by the Stanley Brothers. “He’s talking about how his kids have grown up and moved away … I’m getting a little shivery just thinking about it,” says Coulton. “Maybe it’s because I’m a parent now that, that means so much to me, but that’s the one that I was driving somewhere in the car and that song came on and I started weeping.”

Though Coulton is aware of the difference between famous and “internet famous,” he remains humble to his fans. He says his passion lies in writing serious songs, but “I’m happy for the fans who think of me as a novelty musician and I’m happy for the fans who think of me as a writer of important songs. However you like me, I’m just glad that you like me.”
What’s next for Coulton? During the interview, he disclosed that we won’t see his next project online. After opening for “They Might Be Giants,” band member John Flansburgh commissioned Coulton to write a record that the band will produce. “That is the thing I’m working on right now, feverishly and with enormous panicky feelings.”
Finally, Coulton pulled out his guitar and gave an exclusive unplugged performance of his song “The Future Soon.” Enjoy!


Up Next