Shop Vac

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Shop Vac
ReleaseThing a Week One
Release date10-07-2005
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{{#song:Shop+Vac }}

"Shop Vac" is an oddly un-hyphenated song on Jonathan Coulton's fourth album, Thing a Week One. A fan favorite, the song is JoCo's commentary on suburban life. It tells the story of a depressing middle-class family as they sink deeper and deeper into the soulless, unsatisfying existence of their bland, suburban lifestyle. The chorus describes the man of the house retreating to his basement, where his Shop-Vac drowns out the noise of the world.

Live performance[edit]

"Shop Vac" is played somewhat regularly at Jonathan Coulton concerts. Depending on the concert location, Jonathan will alternatively explain or bemoan the existence of suburbs.

During Paste Studio on the Road: NYC, it was described as, in Jonathan's own words, "Soul Death in Suburbia." (Which, quite honestly, should be the re-release title of "Shop Vac" if it gets a metal cover.)

Additionally, the solo is invariably omitted when the song is played live but is otherwise an acoustic version of the recorded track.


  • "Shop Vac" is classified as a funny/sad song on the Listening Suggestions page.
  • The radio in the background near the end of the studio version appears to be saying the following:
    • "... the case of two men who have come up with an idea for ads reaching a captive audience. The ads can now be seen inside public bathroom stalls. 'It may seem silly,' says..."
    • "A forty-nine-year-old, unidentified man went berserk last night, opening fire with a twelve-gauge shotgun in a crowded, downtown..."

(credit for this discovery to Blimix)

  • Jonathan's comments in his blog about these lines: "The newscast is a segment about ads above urinals, and then another about a guy going nuts with a shotgun. It felt a little goofy to drop that in there, but it also gave me chills, so I kept it."
  • The second sound clip can be heard in the diner in the 2005 game Indigo Prophecy.
  • The sound sample originates with New Power Generation's track "Segue (IV)," from their 1995 album Exodus. These samples were also in Megadeth's "The Scorpion," the Spin Doctors' "What Time Is It," and Chamillionaire's "The Morning News," in addition to the Fenslerfilm GI Joe parody short Israeli Jet Fighters.



"Shop Vac" is available for purchase in the Jonathan Coulton MP3 Store as an individual track or as part of Thing a Week I. Of course, this song is also included as part of the "Everything" playlist.

Downloadable FLAC versions of the above are available in the Jonathan Coulton FLAC Store.


"Thing a Week I" is available for purchase as a CD here.

Other versions[edit]

A karaoke version of "Shop Vac" is available on the Jonathan Coulton Karaoke Store. It was also covered here by California ska band The Seven Dollar Sunglasses. On YouTube, user "jmheather," made a typography cartoon of the song.


(Your themes here)

Thing-a-Week One
1. See You All in Hell · 2. My Monkey · 3. W's Duty · 4. Shop Vac · 5. Baby Got Back · 6. Someone Is Crazy · 7. Brand New Sucker · 8. Sibling Rivalry · 9. The Town Crotch · (*) When I'm 25 or 64 · 10. Podsafe Christmas Song · 11. Furry Old Lobster · 12. Drive
JoCo Looks Back
1. Code Monkey · 2. Ikea · 3. I Feel Fantastic · 4. Mandelbrot Set · 5. Tom Cruise Crazy · 6. Shop Vac · 7. Chiron Beta Prime · 8. I'm Your Moon · 9. My Monkey · 10. Skullcrusher Mountain · 11. I Crush Everything · 12. When You Go · 13. A Talk with George · 14. You Ruined Everything · 15. Creepy Doll · 16. Mr. Fancy Pants · 17. Baby Got Back · 18. First of May · 19. Re: Your Brains · 20. The Future Soon
Best. Concert. Ever.
1. The Future Soon · 2. Ikea · 3. Shop Vac · 4. I'm Your Moon · 5. Baby Got Back · 6. Kenesaw Mountain Landis · 7. Chiron Beta Prime · 8. Tom Cruise Crazy · 9. Code Monkey · 10. Creepy Doll · 11. Still Alive · 12. Mr. Fancy Pants · 13. I Crush Everything · 14. Skullcrusher Mountain · 15. Mandelbrot Set · 16. You Ruined Everything · 17. Re: Your Brains · 18. A Talk with George · 19. I Feel Fantastic · 20. First of May