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Erlkönig: Portal: I'm Still Alive

[...] this cake is great: It's so delicious and moist.
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This webpage provides the lyrics to a darkly twisted song sung by the computer in the highly-acclaimed and original game Portal, based upon Narbacular Drop.

YouTube audio track at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjGfgV7rJHI
(After the link rots, try search YouTube for The Portal Song).

[quoted from a post by rowdyoctopus at www.gamespot.com]
Sung by Ellen McLain (voice of GLaDOS and the turrets)

This is a step by step breakdown of the references that make the portal song funny. You probably still will not understand/enjoy it as much until you play the game, but maybe this will help explain why so many people like it. This is my own interpretation based on the game.
  1. Test Assessment Report

    This was a triumph. I'm making a note here:
    HUGE SUCCESS.
    It's hard to overstate
    my satisfaction.
    You spend the whole game completing puzzles as a test subject with a computer AI talking to you. The AI is singing. At the end of the game you destroy to computer that supposedly houses the AI. Then you hear this part. It is funny because a computer is trying to state emotion.
    Aperture Science.
    We do what we must
    because we can.
    For the good of all of us
    Except the ones who are dead.
    Aperture science is a high tech private scientific research company in the Half-Life universe. They are rivals to Black Mesa which was the company the protagonist (Gordon Freeman) worked for at the beginning of Half-Life 1. The other lines being funny should be self explanatory. A computer is singing about helping people, except dead people.
    But there's no sense crying
    over every mistake
    You just keep on trying
    till you run out of cake
    And the Science gets done
    and you make a neat gun
    For the people who are
    still alive.
    Mistakes probably refers to people that ran the tests unsuccessfully before you did. The point was for Aperture Science to make a gun that creates a portal from one flat surface to another, which is the ‘neat gun.’ Keep on trying probably refers to how they kept getting new test subjects to do the puzzles. The cake is a metaphor used in the game. Basically, you are told that if you finish all the puzzles you will get cake. As the game progresses you get the feeling that there is no cake and that you will be killed. Through out the puzzles there are hidden areas that say things like ‘The cake is a lie.’ At the apparent end of the game you will either be incinerated or you can use your gun to get out of it. When you get out of it the Computer promises more cake, but then you begin a trek through the back passageways and observation areas to find the supercomputer and destroy it.
  2. Personnel File Addendum
    Dear <<Subject Name Here>>:


    I'm not even angry.
    I'm being so sincere right now.
    Even though you broke my heart
    And killed me.
    And tore me to pieces.
    And threw every piece into a fire.
    And as they burned it hurt because
    I was so happy for you!
    In the boss battle, you use the portal gun to launch rockets at the robotic computer and then throw the pieces that fall off into an incinerator. Apparently killing this thing made it happy for you, almost like a mom being proud of their son/daughter for standing up for themselves.
    Now these points of data
    make a beautiful line
    And we're out of beta
    We're releasing on time.
    So I'm GLAD I got burned
    Think of all the things we learned
    for the people who are
    still alive.
    This is the computer basically talking about how your character making it to the computer room and destroying it was part of the test. It gave them sufficient data and they are ready to mass produce the gun. Another reference to doing things for people that are alive and having no concern for those lost in the process to get there.
  3. Personnel File Addendum Addendum
    One last thing


    Go ahead and leave me.
    I think I prefer to stay inside.
    Maybe you'll find someone else
    to help you.
    Maybe Black Mesa...
    That was a JOKE. [HAHA.] FAT CHANCE.
    Anyway, this cake is great:
    It's so delicious and moist.
    You leaving is at the end of the game when you get blown out of the science lab. The computer is basically saying it no longer needs you. As I said before, Black Mesa is the rival company. The reference to the cake is probably a psychological ploy to make you feel like you are missing out by leaving.
    Look at me still talking
    when there's Science to do.
    When I look out there it
    makes me glad I'm not you.
    I've experiments to run.
    There is research to be done
    On the people who are still alive.
    Apparently they are not done and there is more to do. The gun might be finished, but there are more helpless lab rats for the company to work on.
    PS: And believe me I am
    still alive.

    PPS: I'm doing Science and I'm
    still alive.

    PPPS: I feel FANTASTIC and I'm
    still alive.


    FINAL THOUGHT
    While you're dying I'll be
    still alive.


    FINAL THOUGHT PS
    And when you're dead I will be
    still alive.


    STILL ALIVE
    [Still alive]
    Basically the computer assuring you that your efforts were futile and the supercomputer AI is alive and kicking and ready to torture a new batch of guinea pigs.
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