The National To Provide Song For Portal 2

By John Walker on March 11th, 2011 at 5:42 pm.

Here is a picture of the song.

The National’s Fake Empire is one of my favourite songs in years. Which means I come to the news that the glum band has recorded an original song for Portal 2 with a happy heart. There’s not really any more to the story than that at this stage. There’s a press release where Valve and the band’s management both say that it’s a good thing. And then there’s an aching gap of silence where a clip of the song could have appeared.

There is, however, one nice detail in there. The press release recommends that we press visit thinkwithportals.com for more details. But doesn’t link there. No, it links to the confusingly broken, presumably intended in-office insult, chet’smom.com. Complete with the %27 ascii code for the apostrophe. There, I bet they’re glad we’re mentioning that.

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77 Comments »

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  1. Mike Williams says:

    God I love The National. Everything off of Boxer and Alligator is amazing. Fake Empire is the cream of the crop (IMO). It’ll be interesting to see what comes from this!

    • Flint says:

      You’re missing High Violet from that list of yours.

      And quite frankly pretty much everything they’ve done bar some parts of the debut has been marvellousamazingfantastic

      This is the first piece of Portal 2 news that has made me excited.

    • Warth0g says:

      Also, utterly brilliant though Fake Empire is, Secret Meeting from Alligator is probably the most immediate track.. definetly what I would play people who need selling on the band… As a good friend of mine would say “it’s toe-tappingly good” :-)

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I once had a discussion with three of my friends over which Boxer track we’d recommend.

      All three of us picked different tracks.

      Personally, I’ve had good results with Mistaken for Strangers and Slow Show.

  2. Zanpa says:

    Chet Falizek is going to love this! Ha.

  3. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    =_=

    glados sings better than this band…

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Apparently you already knew what I want to call you right now when you registered that username… ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      xD

      gets funny on the WH40K posts with all this chanting of burn the heretic etc. ahhah…

  4. Theory says:

    They used to link to http://www.thinkingwithportals.com/, which always brightened my day.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    So I listened to that Nationals song, being a bit curious about it. Thought it was ok. Then my foobar played this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ICsoINapqs

    More people need to listen to Can.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      I couldn’t agree more <3

    • DiamondDog says:

      There’s no better use of 18 minutes and 32 seconds than spending it listening to Halleluhwah.

    • Madlukelcm says:

      Yea man, Can rock! Krautrock isn’t my thing but Tago Mago in particular is amazing. You should listen to a song called Sleepwalkers Timeless Bridge by another band.

  6. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    This is great news, I <3 the National and everything they stand for, including most of the artists on their record label.

  7. Unaco says:

    Well, that band sound like they are intimately familiar with their own navels. Maybe their shoes as well. For this instalment, are Valve going for the downbeat, depressing, low point of a trilogy, a la The Empire Strikes Back? Will Chell lose a leg and find out Breen is her father?

  8. GenBanks says:

    That’s awesome!! I saw them perform in London a few months ago, they were great. I’m glad to hear they’re gaming-friendly.

  9. westyfield says:

    Woo! The National are great! This is excellent news.

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    sonofsanta says:

    Somehow I have never heard any of their music before. I am not sure how this came to be but I intend on rectifying the situation immediately.

    Cheers!

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    Morph says:

    Wow… this is… wow.

  12. Starky says:

    One of the amazing things about music, one persons “favourite song in years” is anothers uninspired 3 chord (C, F and G) track with a droney singer and a utterly terrible brass ending.

    Different strokes and all that.

    It reminds me of Morrissey, and I hate Morrissey.

    • Eschatos says:

      Your musical taste differs from mine, therefore you are a terrible person.

    • Starky says:

      Is exactly the kind of statement only a colossal fecking idiot would make.

      Good thing I said exactly the opposite.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Cool! Musical elitists! Juuuust what we needed here.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Morrissey? The singer reminded me more of Stuart Staples, him of Tindersticks, in his intonations.

    • alternapop says:

      you think The National has a “simple drum beat”? He’s one of the most tastefully creative and original drummers I can think of in modern rock.

  13. Dracko says:

    Confirmation that this game will be as annoying, if not more, than the original.

    • westyfield says:

      Begone, and darken not our doorway again.

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      dhex says:

      despite dracko’s nearly pathological love of jesu (have you heard the streetcleaner remaster? it’s tastefully done!) i do enjoy his slanderousness.

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      RobF says:

      That’s because Jesu are fucking brilliant, surely?

    • Eukatheude says:

      What’s wrong with Jesu?
      Also, how is this related to the post?

  14. skinlo says:

    Hmm, their music is very boring.

  15. leeder krenon says:

    shit indie band to provide song for game shocker.

  16. A-Scale says:

    I waited for most of the video wondering when the intro was going to cut out and the song would start properly… but it never did.

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    skalpadda says:

    Seems like an odd choice for Portal. The poor boys seem unsure of how their instruments work and I think someone ought to give them a cup of cocoa and a hug.

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      drewski says:

      Typical of (some) sourpuss gamers to not understand the humour in The National…

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Bit hard to appreciate any humour when you’re too busy wincing at their ineptitude at performing music ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who is so blatantly wrong.

      They may not be to your taste, but there’s no doubting their ability.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I came to this post looking for musical elitism.

      I was not disappointed.

      The internet is predictable that way.

      @Starky: “I like loads of things most people don’t”

      Hehe, I bet fella.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      The idea that musicians should be good at playing their chosen instrument, singers shouldn’t sound like they’re mumbling through a sock or that composers should be striving to write something inspired or noteworthy is elitist? Wow.

      I don’t mind these guys existing or people liking them, but nothing about the few songs I’ve heard tickles my enjoyment glands, they’re doing nothing new or interesting musically and they don’t get a free pass for being funny. It seems like a strange choice to have whiny, depressive pop music in Portal, but then maybe they’ll surprise and write something brilliant for it, I guess we’ll see.

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      RobF says:

      “The idea that musicians should be good at playing their chosen instrument, singers shouldn’t sound like they’re mumbling through a sock or that composers should be striving to write something inspired or noteworthy is elitist? Wow.”

      Pretty much, yeah.

    • DiamondDog says:

      It probably has something to do with what people class as noteworthy. The enjoyment of music is very subjective.

      That’s kind of the point about music, if it provokes an emotion or a connection you don’t tend to care how many cords are used or how well they play their instruments. That’s why it’s “elitism” I suppose. Why do you think so many millions of people enjoy listening to fairly ordinary pop music? If they enjoy it, well that’s kind of the beginning and end of their thought process about it. Does this pop song make me happy? YES! That’s it. If you can’t understand that then, yeah, you probably are a snob.

      I’m not actually much of a fan of The National, but I can totally understand why some people love them. I love all things Pearl Jam whilst knowing they are not pushing any musical boundaries. My joy from listening to them doesn’t come from how well they play their instruments, it comes from how their songs make me feel and the nostalgic connection I have from them being part of my youth.

      Personally, I love music because it can run from Stockhausen all the way to angry kids with guitars like the Sex Pistols. I don’t want to deny myself any area of music just because someone isn’t inventing a new sound with every album.

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      skalpadda says:

      The appreciation of music certainly is objective, the ability to perform and compose are not so much. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is one of the most popular melodies ever and as a children’s song it’s doing an exceptional job, but arguing that whoever came up with the melody for it is a genius would be silly, nor is everyone who can play the notes on a piano an amazing musician. It’s just a pleasant song that fits it’s role in our culture and the same goes for the vast majority of music ever made and performed. And that’s fine. It’s the way it always has been and the way it always will be.

      I wasn’t trying to be a dick here, I genuinely think it’s an odd choice of band for a game like Portal and made a silly joke about them needing some cocoa and a hug. I didn’t say they shouldn’t be allowed to exist or that people who like them are stupid

    • DiamondDog says:

      I maybe should have posted my comment separate as yes, you didn’t really have a go at anyone, just expressed your dislike of the band. I read a few other comments and got myself worked up.

      I just genuinely get irritated at the thought of people not giving music a chance based solely on how well they strum a damn guitar.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “The idea that musicians should be good at playing their chosen instrument, singers shouldn’t sound like they’re mumbling through a sock or that composers should be striving to write something inspired or noteworthy is elitist? Wow.”

      It just shows your complete and utter ignorance, to be honest.

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      skalpadda says:

      I’m not sure what you’re trying to say there Lilliput, that the Sex Pistols weren’t trying to write something inspired? The Sex Pistols and the punk movement were certainly culturally significant but it sure as hell wasn’t (and still isn’t) about writing or performing great music.

      I’m not saying that music needs to live up to a checklist of qualifications, but if you’re going to call something brilliant it needs to have some quality of brilliance, and I’m talking about music here, not lyrics, fashion, politics or attitude.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Wait, so you’re saying the sex pistols didn’t make great music?

      I don’t see the point in continuing with this.

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    yhancik says:

    I’m not really sure how what I’ve heard from that “The” band really fits into Portal.

    Oh maybe it will create an interesting dissonance. Maybe their Portal song will different from what we know so far (like what Neil Hannon did for IT Crowd).

    But so far it strikes me as a strange choice, and being mostly unimpressed with most 00s “indie rock”, it leaves me a bit “meh”.

    I have the feeling that there are (probably less hyped) artists around that actually have an interesting reflection on technology/emotion that would have fitted GladOS’ maze better. Of course no names come to mind right now :p

    Oh well.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Yay!

    The National are one of the most consistently brilliant bands of recent times so it’s good to here they are lending their wonderful sounds to Portal. Not perhaps the most obvious choice but they are easily talented enough to produce something different to their usual sound (the guitarists in particular have collaborated with completely different sounding artists in the past) or make their sound work with Portal.

    And those dismissing them as relentlessley downbeat clearly haven’t listened to Apartment Story yet

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S97xQKZDV_4

    Also if you like the National you owe it to yourself to see them live. They tend to embellish their sound fantastically and it makes for an absolutely awesome experience.

    • Starky says:

      I still don’t get the appeal, sorry, seems very bland musically to me, and vocally for that matter – very simple chord progressions, flat bass, simple drumbeat, and the lyrics didn’t seem profound or moving (though I’ll admit I’m not a lyric guy – vocals are just another melody to me, words don’t matter much).

      Nothing against anyone liking them, I like loads of things most people don’t – but I just can’t really find anything to like about these guys.

  20. dragonhunter21 says:

    Did I miss an article on here? When did Portal get a British robot buddy?

  21. TheJais says:

    That sounds pretty awesome actually.

    I saw them when they played in Oslo last summer I think it was, and it was a fantastic experience.
    Valve seems like they’re getting a lot of really interesting people in on Portal 2, with them getting Stephen Merchant to do some voice acting and now The National doing some music.

    Also hi RPS. First comment.

  22. Inglourious Badger says:

    Favourite band of recent years, meet one of my favourite games. One of my favourite games, meet favourite band

    Happy days

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    drewski says:

    The best band around at the moment combining with the best games company around at the moment.

    HOW APPROPRIATE

  24. The Dark One says:

    I would love to see Peter Mansbridge drop a single for this game.

  25. lokimotive says:

    For some reason, I find it difficult to picture Matt Berninger playing a computer game. Disaffectedly sitting in an easy chair with a tumbler of scotch, sure, but not so much playing a computer game.

  26. RandomGameR says:

    Let’s just pretend that the National is a band that I like, or even that it’s my favorite band ever… This news seems cringe-worthy.

    It’s like a Coca-Cola sponsorship or something. Or, to put it another way, the first game was not lacking in currently popular indie-pop music… it cleverly made its own.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Valve did not invent Jonathan Coulton, or program him in a lab.
      Some of us knew about him before Portal.

  27. Miles of the Machination says:

    Everyone needs to listen to England off High Violet. That will get you into The National in a flash. Man this is exciting news. I AM EXCITED.

    • Starky says:

      Of all the songs linked so far this is the first one that has *something* to it – still not feeling it, but it’s not immediately dismissable like the rest, the first one where I can see some genuine musical talent behind them.

      Still, maybe it is just me but them seem duller than coldplay, and I -like- coldplay (even if they are dull).

    • Tokamak says:

      I think they’ve heard you the first time about your dislike for the band with your first (and definitely second) condescending comment. Personally, I don’t think they’re special but you could do a lot worse. No need to be all passive-aggressively dismissive about this whole thing.

    • Starky says:

      Dislike is the wrong word, I don’t dislike them I, they are perfectly ordinary indie fluff – I just don’t see what is good about them. Why people seem to like them so much.

      This is a comment thread though and I’ll comment however much I sodding like thanks very much mate, if you don’t like it don’t read it or fuck off, simply put.

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      drewski says:

      I think the point is that whilst you’re entitled to your opinion, there’s a very high degree of obnoxiousness to going around comment threads making negative, whiny comments about the subject matter.

      Nobody is saying you can’t comment about anything you like, but people are saying that your comments in this particular thread are extremely rude.

  28. Bret says:

    JK Simmons is apparently going to be Cave Johnson.

    So glad I got this preordered.

  29. Matt says:

    Does anyone know of an IDN whois tool that actually returns useful information?

    In case you weren’t aware, chet’smom.com is actually a valid domain. Its Punycode equivalent is http://www.xn--chetsmom-fp3d.com/ which appears to have already been registered, but doesn’t have a website up.

    I guess we’ll have to wait until April 18th to unravel the mystery….

  30. Lucas Says says:

    The thing people listening to them for the first time are missing is that their older music really takes a while to appreciate, because there’s a definite lack of immediacy. Listen to anything off their new album (Conversation 16 especially, Terrible Love, Blood Buzz Ohio), because that’s a lot more convincing.

    It’s a good fit. They’re not a jokey band like Jonathan Coulton the person is, but there’s a definite understated humor about them. And a wistfulness that might fit a larger, more mature game.

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      drewski says:

      I actually don’t think High Violet is as immediate as Boxer.

      You’re right about them being a good fit for a more considered, mature game. That probably won’t gel with the teenagers but then The National aren’t really a band for teens (with apologies to the exceptions).

  31. pagad says:

    Meh. I don’t really understand the hype, that just sounded like a perfectly average indie band committed to being as quiet, inoffensive and simple as possible.

  32. hosndosn says:

    Officially the least expected gaming headline in weeks for me!

    Also the best way to introduce The National to someone who never heard of them (probably) is Bloodbuzz Ohio, IMO.

  33. DOLBYdigital says:

    Just throwing my personal 2 cents out here, music like everything else is subjective. While I really don’t like anything I’ve heard from the links in this post, my main concern is that I don’t see their ‘style’ fitting in with the game. So unless they make a different type of song, I don’t know if this will work. I’ve always liked the music Valve has used in their games so hopefully this won’t disappoint. I also hope this doesn’t lead to Valve using more official ‘bands’ for their music although I’m assuming sound artists/engineers have done the music for their past games….

  34. Lilliput King says:

    replyfail

  35. Jahkaivah says:

    Coming back to this article I have to say it’s a massive coincidence that this artcle uses the image of the test chamber where the song in question was put in game.