Of Rat Men, Indie Pop And Maudlin Sock Puppets

Of Rat Men, Indie Pop And Maudlin Sock Puppets

The results of Valve's Portal 2 music video contest are in, and they're exactly as creative and inspired as you'd expect.

For the past few months, Valve Software has been holding a music video contest in conjunction with somber indie pop darlings, The National. If you think back to your time with Portal 2 you will recall that The National's "Exile, Vilify" served as something of a theme song for the game, in much the same way that Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive" was the theme for the original Portal.

Though Coulton's tune had the novelty appeal, The National's song has a more basic, understated, "this could appear at Coachella" vibe. Since that almost guaranteed that people would make music videos for the tune anyway, it only makes sense that Valve would turn the whole thing into a contest. It's essentially free publicity and fan service; two things that Valve absolutely loves.

Well, the results are in, and they're fantastic, and I'm not saying that with the de rigueur game journalist hyperbole either. If MTV still had any sort of cultural relevance, I would clap excitedly to see Matt Pinfield introduce these clips on 120 Minutes.

The video you see up at the top-right is the winner, and the inspiration for that "maudlin sock puppet" line in the hed. Below you'll find the videos that took "1.00000000001th Place" and 2nd Place, respectively.

Since that song is now irrevocably lodged in your head, you should probably also visit Valve's contest page and have a look at the handful of runners-up it links to. The entries all range from "awesome" to "sad, but still pretty awesome," so you may want to bring along a tissue or a plush companion cube to hug. Fair warning.

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The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

Catchy Slogan:
The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

The animated one may or may yes have made me cry a little.

What? Don't look at me like that! I'm a sensitive butterfly!

You guys are jerks. *sob*

Earnest Cavalli:

Catchy Slogan:
The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

The animated one may or may yes have made me cry a little.

What? Don't look at me like that! I'm a sensitive butterfly!

You guys are jerks. *sob*

It was rather beautiful :')

Catchy Slogan:

Earnest Cavalli:

Catchy Slogan:
The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

The animated one may or may yes have made me cry a little.

What? Don't look at me like that! I'm a sensitive butterfly!

You guys are jerks. *sob*

It was rather beautiful :')

Seriously, no offence to the sock puppet guy, but dammit, that animated one was the most appropiate and the most true to the source material, how the hell it didn't win?

(The National is more indie rock. I'm just sayin')

These are excellent, but I have to agree that the animated one is my favorite.

Lovely song, lovely videos but...where the abortive fuck was this in Portal 2? I swear I have never heard this before, in connection with the game or otherwise.

Akichi Daikashima:

Seriously, no offence to the sock puppet guy, but dammit, that animated one was the most appropiate and the most true to the source material, how the hell it didn't win?

I have no idea. The sock puppet one made me go "wtf?" after the first 30 seconds, then got a bit boring. The one that was Lab Rat animated was much better. Maybe people didn't like it as much because the guy didn't come up with the story?

EDIT:

Seventh Actuality:
Lovely song, lovely videos but...where the abortive fuck was this in Portal 2? I swear I have never heard this before, in connection with the game or otherwise.

Here it is ;)

Catchy Slogan:

Akichi Daikashima:

Seriously, no offence to the sock puppet guy, but dammit, that animated one was the most appropiate and the most true to the source material, how the hell it didn't win?

I have no idea. The sock puppet one made me go "wtf?" after the first 30 seconds, then got a bit boring. The one that was Lab Rat animated was much better. Maybe people didn't like it as much because the guy didn't come up with the story?

Yeah, this stuff was really good, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who has no idea what the hell is going on here :/

The animated one was far superior. No offense to the winner, the sock puppet was pretty good, but that animated video blew my mind.

Yeah, I actually think that both the animated one and the 2nd place one were better than the sock puppet. I mean, sock puppet had some really nice background scenery but other than that I just didn't feel much from it. The animated one was exceptionally well-done and the 2nd place one looked like an actual music video. But I guess people have a thing for sad sock puppets? I dunno.

It may just be that they wanted something that was closer to a music video than a Portal homage. Being Portal fans we all get the animated one, but imagine someone who has no idea what Portal is seeing that in a broadcast. They'd have no idea what was going on in it. Whereas melancholy footwear with eyes is much more accessible, oddly enough.

Earnest Cavalli:

Catchy Slogan:
The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

The animated one may or may yes have made me cry a little.

What? Don't look at me like that! I'm a sensitive butterfly!

You guys are jerks. *sob*

Rat-man is such a tragic character in that video and the delving into the emotions of the comic gave it an extra hit. Manly tears were shed.

Scrumpmonkey:

Earnest Cavalli:

Catchy Slogan:
The animated one was my favourite. I'm a bit shocked it didn't actually win.

The animated one may or may yes have made me cry a little.

What? Don't look at me like that! I'm a sensitive butterfly!

You guys are jerks. *sob*

Rat-man is such a tragic character in that video and the delving into the emotions of the comic gave it an extra hit. Manly tears were shed.

Absolutely this. I'm really surprised the sock puppet beat out the other two, and that one in particular. This song screams sad narrative to me. I was not feeling the sock puppet at all. I feel like it belongs in a similar, slightly more upbeat music video. In any case, the Rat-man-animated video was much more interesting, fitting and inspiring.

The sock puppet one, while funny, had the sort of tongue-in-cheek not-taking-this-seriously feel that probably didn't warrant it getting first place, especially considering the effort that went into the animated one in particular. Whatever, still a good song.

 

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