Better (Entitled Hipster Version)

This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s song ‘Better‘. You probably haven’t heard of that song, because it’s from before Jonathan quit his day job and got all famous. It’s way better than his new stuff, because it’s about someone who liked their partner before said partner turned into a cyborg and sold out to the robot overlords. Opinions expressed in these lyrics do not reflect those of the author.

What have you done?
I think you know what I’m talking about.
No more homespun;
I’d just bought in and then you just sold out.
I remember the Yale Whiffenpoofs,
Spizzwinks(?) and Pop!Tech and Little Gray Books.
Little short lines I read nothing between.
Nobody loved you like me.

But it’s not me, it’s you.
It’s the star you’ve turned to.
The day job you quit
like no artist would do.
You were my great nerd love
that no-one had heard of,
but I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

You started out small,
some free tunes and some gigs as an opening band.
Now you must have it all;
you moved on to the sea once you’d soft rocked the land.
Now you tour with a real live Scarface,
big boomy drums and a super star bass,
and the act that you opened for opens your act;
you act like you don’t know your place.

Then you made record-deal ‘art’
and produced it with Flans,
denied us your real heart,
ignored your real fans.
You might be a giant,
but I ain’t no client
and I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.

So that’s how it goes.
Your whole cake is a lie, and you’re eating it too.
Everyone knows.
Why would anyone think I’d be happy for you?
It’s not about you, it’s all about me.
Here is a list of what I want to see.
Don’t please the masses, and don’t plead for cash.
Just be authentic for free.

Now, I’m not against gold mines
’cause I like sluice box muck.
But man, you’re the nugget,
the million bucks.
You used to like monkeys,
but now you’re like Snuggies
and I don’t think that I like you better.
No I don’t think that I like you better.


Just for fun, I’ve included the titles of or otherwise strongly referenced the titles of at least five other songs of his, and one song by his opening band (that he used to open for) Paul and Storm. See if you can find them!

‘Better’ was actually one of the first Jonathan Coulton songs I heard, when I found Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms, and Jonathan was probably about halfway through Thing A Week when I found it. I didn’t find out about the Whiffenpoofs, Spizzwinks(?) or Little Gray Books lectures until some time later. I like his new albums too and I’m glad that he’s successful and therefore has the freedom to do whatever he likes without worrying too much about what will sell. I’m happy that if I mention his name at a geek-adjacent event these days, people are likely to know who I’m talking about. I even sang ‘Better’ at a karaoke event in Vienna recently, and it wasn’t the first JoCo song to be sung there.

I had a hard time deciding between ‘I am your client’ (that is, I’m the customer, I’m always right, I’m the important one here, I gave you almost a whole dollar of my hard-earned cash when I could have just got this for free on BitTorrent or from you since you were nice enough to make it pay-what-you-want, so you’d better do what I want from now on) and ‘I’m not your client’ (that is, I’m not just some client you have to sell things to, or, I’m not going to buy your music any more) but I think ‘I ain’t no client’ has elements of both.

And because I can’t help overanalysing the phonological properties of rhymes, and hope to one day create a rhyming dictionary that will tell you which accents your poem is completely compatible with: The way I pronounce ‘Whiffenpoofs’ has the same final vowel sound as the way I say ‘books’, and the way I think I remember Jonathan or John Hodgman saying ‘Whiffenpoofs’ (which is surely the only correct way, since they get to decide what they’re called) has the same final vowel sound as the way my Mancunian grandmother said ‘books’. The way I pronounce ‘love’ does not rhyme with the way I pronounce ‘of’, but there’s an established precedent in rhyming these two words, backed up by some rhyming dictionaries and the way a friend of mine pronounces ‘of’. I don’t know the names of any of these phonological changes, nor whether there is a single accent which has all the right ones. But to make up for any failings in a potential singer’s accent, I added some rhymes and assonance in places where the original song didn’t have any.

I cut short my participation in NaPoWriMo in order to write a short story for a competition I’d already entered. I submitted a shoddy first draft of the story about 24 hours ago. I thought I’d missed the deadline, but it turned out the deadline was in a different time zone, so now those poor judges will have to read my shoddy first draft. I think the idea I eventually came up with was good, but the hurried execution wasn’t, so I’ll improve it and submit it to other things. Anyway, I decided to keep pretending it’s National Poetry Writing Month until I’ve completed the original goal of 30 posts with either poems or found haiku. They’ll probably be spaced out through May, rather than one a day for a few weeks, because I have to study for a French certification at the end of May.

If it’s still the first of May where you are, please enjoy some outdoor hugging, sluice-box mucking, or more adult outdoor activities. Or if you’re not that ambitious or social, at least go outside if you’re able. It’s nice to be outside once in a while.

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  1. Better (Robot-to-Human version) | Creative Output

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