Exile Victorious? The Portal 2 Music Videos

Overall theme: everyone is very sad

Speaking of Portal-based competitions, it’s about time we took a look at how things are progressing with Valve’s other challenge – to make a music video for gloomy The National song Exile Vilify, which played a minor role in the game. There aren’t quite as many submissions as I’d have expected so far (either that or people keeping forgetting to tag their Youtube videos with PORTAL2NATIONALEXILE), but I’ve gone through and picked out a few below to demonstrate both the variety and, in some cases, the skill on offer.

Featured: cats, lego, crying, animation, more crying, stop-motion, yet more crying, Half-Life 2, wow these people are unhappy, Mirror’s Edge, CHEER UP and penguins.

And having watched all these videos, I can assure you that I never want to hear that dirge again. I quite like The National generally, but good grief that song makes me feel like I’m slowly drowning in a sewer or something. Now If you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you to watch these videos while I go and play Pink Sunshine at top volume until I feel better again.

A dramatic HL2: the story so far montage:

Hooray for Lego:

Journey into madness:

Using Portal 2 trailers is probably the easy route:

Bleak landscapes and sad, synchronised machines:

A lonely man sings:


Song of the Rattman:

I’m afraid I can’t sample that, Dave:

Life is like, rilly rilly awwwwwesum:

How to make elastic bands haunting:

Mirror’s Edge makes a good music video:

A day in the life of Doug Rattman:

I can haz competition entry? (Note: I thought this was just five long minutes of a motionless cat looking sad. And then! God, cats are amazing.)

The loneliness of the copyright-free art assets:

Real-life Max Payne?

And there’s more here. You’ve got until July 15 if you fancy entering yourself, but don’t even try. No, sorry, I don’t mean that, it’s just THAT BLOODY SONG I’VE HEARD IT SO MANY TIMES. Entry details here: get on it!


  1. skurmedel says:


  2. Stammer says:

    I think I pulled a muscle in my face from frowning too hard at some of those entries.

  3. Sinomatic says:

    No staring eyes for the cat?

    • Brumisator says:

      Oh come on, the cat’s not even in the post header image, AND it’s not staring at anything.

      You may as well request a “pixels” tag for every header image that’s made out of pixels (spoilers: it’s all of them)

    • westyfield says:



    • Sinomatic says:

      Not staring at anything?

      I’m fairly sure its eyes just hollowed out my soul…

    • Kaldor says:

      It’s drifting in and out of sleep, watchful and dreamy.

  4. StickyNavels says:

    Those were all kind of shit, weren’t they? Except for the cat, of course.

  5. RobF says:

    The cat one is fantastic.

  6. bigjko says:

    Ok, screw this! I’m making my own. AND I think I’ll livestream the whole process! There.

  7. Tei says:

    All have really good things.

    My 2th favorite and 3th favorite are Song of the Rattman, Journey into madness…. and would mention that the one that use the portal clip is good.

    I don’t like the song, so I can’t have a decent opinion.

  8. The Hammer says:

    That Half Life 2 one is excellent – and makes me want to play through it all again. The series is -so- good at evoking emotion. Eli putting his arm around Alyx. :(

    EDIT: Oh yeah, I’m using that horse statue in front of the citadel shot as my desktop background now.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      The Half-Life 2 one is definitely my favorite.

      Which, actually, is kinda terrible, because everything after it could only inevitably disappoint me. :'(

  9. Maphis says:

    The Half-Life 2 video and the Song of the Rattman were both pretty good. All of the ones with people just singing made me cringe.

  10. Koozer says:

    Bloody cats.

  11. Kollega says:

    Hm. Hypothetically – and i do say hypothetically, because i don’t know anything about animation or video editing – i could make one about Ratchet and Alister Azimuth, featuring a montage of the moments from the game or a sketchy-windy animation retelling their sad, sad story. But considering that those two are from a Sony-owned IP, that would probably run into a pile of copyright issues bigger than the Mount Everest.

    Also, as an aside, the-

    good grief that song makes me feel like I’m slowly drowning in a sewer or something

    -bit is very, very funny.

  12. McDan says:

    Brilliant song, shame about the videos for the main part. Although saying that mine is only half done, and it’s hard to do and it probably won’t get done in time…

  13. edit says:

    Part of me thinks “oh, I still have a shot!”. The other part of me thinks that all the people making really amazing videos are still working hard on them.

  14. Muzman says:

    My money’s on the Rattman one so far, for sure.

  15. Warth0g says:

    No time to watch the videos, but there is literally nothing about The National that I don’t like so I fully endorse whatever this is about.

  16. Kaira- says:

    If only the song could spark anything in me, but it’s… like a void of emotions, but not even remotely interesting. In my opinion, of course.

    • Gerbick says:

      And mine. Very boring. Cats though? Yay!

    • Vexing Vision says:

      If it only would stop repeating itself.

      It’d be a nice song if the length was 40 seconds.

    • Tatourmi says:

      The exact same here. But then again, I think I am alergic to overly sad and powerless voices in songs. Songs do not need that to be “sadness inducing”, this just sounds cliché.

    • Muzman says:

      You folks can go back to your musical theatre albums and Celine Dion any time you like.

      (actually I’d be interested to hear your tastes in sad songs. Not for argument’s sake, just curiosity)

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I find Tindersticks do this sort of thing quite well.

  17. Bettymartin says:

    Playing all the videos at the same time is really intense.

  18. DigitalSignalX says:

    Really liked the HL2 and the Rattman as well, though the Lego one is very emotional just wrong context.

  19. Wolfoz says:

    Im ashamed to say I had never heard of The National before I seen this page. Thank’s Alec and of course Valve for pointing me to an amazing band. As a result of this, I will buy portal 2 with my next pay packet (rather than wait a couple more months), and also The National’s back catalogue of albums.

  20. lokimotive says:

    I feel like there should be at least a few involving deer.

  21. Fathom says:

    I’m the guy who made the HL2 montage. I’m in the process of making a live-action version for this, since that’s probably more appropriate for an official music video. And no, it won’t look like low quality garbage like some of the entries that have been put in, I use a t2i. And it won’t really have to do with video games at all.

  22. mechtroid says:

    The mirror’s edge one made me grin a bit, as the main menu music for the game is “Still Alive”.

  23. Tom4J says:

    Oh… gosh.

  24. baconismidog says:

    Watching these vids (I watched about 7) had made me borderline suicidal. Maybe someone can find something happy/positive in the lyrics: link to azlyrics.com

    Maybe a sociopathic prison guard having the time of his life with his trusty pepper spray and a billy club? A misunderstood great white shark eating adorable seal pups? A pack of coyotes running down some delicious saucer-eyed rabbits and howling in glee? At least juxtapose the hopelessness with something…

    Oh, and thus far IMO, it’s Song of the Rattman for the win.

  25. Antinomy says:

    I can’t believe no one is crediting the fifth one from the top, the one with the “bleak landscapes and sad, synchronised machines”. That and the Ratman one may be the only ones on this list qualified to win the contest.

    That video is simple and uses the Portal 2 world as a backdrop for the song, but it isn’t just cuts from trailers and playthroughs. Someone took their time on that, capturing the minute bits of the world and making something that both feels unique and feels like a music video that accompanies both the game and the song. There’s even a very subtle theme in all of it, as everything runs in a very particular direction. Thoughtful camera work makes it really feel like an experience, instead of something to just look at while the music plays.

    The Ratman one is similar, and I’d have a hard time choosing between those two. Its unfortunate that no one else feels the same.

    Sure, the Half-Life 2 video is really intriguing, but it completely abandons the world of Portal. The other two embrace the Portal universe and weave a tale that has already been told, in the background of the Portal games, in a way that is neither self-indulging nor tedious.

  26. wrath says:

    This is mostly disjointed, wanky crap. With epic spoilarage in the first video even. Its been some years, but come on! I’d rate that as one of the dramatic, and unexpected twists in the whole of gaming. Oh, and it made for a crappy music video.

    Bleak landscapes (#5 from the top) is the best effort of the lot, but that’s not exactly saying much.

  27. jives says:

    I made a video, sadly not in time for this article. Please give it a watch, I’m quite proud of it.

  28. Stevostin says:

    Just finished the game, never heard the song. What’s the point ? Credit music of P2 << Credit music of P1 BTW.

    Edit : the “Exile” song is pretty forgettable, I must say.