Exile Vilify

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"Exile Vilify"
Exile vilify.jpg
Single by the National
ReleasedApril 19, 2011 (2011-04-19)
Songwriter(s)Matt Berninger
The National singles chronology
"Conversation 16"
"Exile Vilify"

"Exile Vilify" is a song by indie rock band the National, written for the video game Portal 2 and released as a stand-alone single.[1][2]


The lyrics were composed by the group and reviewed by Valve, the company who made the game, to ensure they fit with the tone of one of the Rattmann's dens, where it appears in-game.[3][4][5] The National had expressed to Bug Music, their publishing label, an interest in doing music for Valve which the label forwarded on to Valve in discussing other music opportunities for the game. Valve and Bug Music identified that the National would fit well into Portal 2, as their "raw and emotive music evokes the same visceral reactions from its listeners that Portal does from its players" according to Bug Music's spokesperson Julia Betley.[6]

The track was originally to be used in one of several hidden "fake endings" of the game, but was later rewritten to be more sombre and included in the game as an Easter egg.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Paste described the song as a "haunted, piano-lead ballad" similar to the band's song "Think You Can Wait" used in the film Win Win.[5] Exclaim! described the song as a "sombre ballad that places Matt Berninger's melancholic croon atop gloomy piano chords, lush orchestral swells and some subtle percussion".[1]

"Exile Vilify" (alongside other Portal 2 song "Want You Gone") was nominated for "Best Song in a Game" at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards.[8]

Music video[edit]

After the game's release, Valve and the National ran a contest encouraging users to create their own music video for "Exile Vilify", offering as prizes Valve merchandise and a guitar signed by members of the band.[9] Of 320 videos submitted, Valve ultimately awarded two videos first prize. One video featured a sock puppet that "had nothing to do with Portal" but "managed to beautifully capture the spirit of the song", while the other provided an animated retelling of the Lab Rat comic.[10][11]


Chart (2011) Peak
UK Indie (OCC)[12] 43


  1. ^ a b "The National "Exile Vilify"". exclaim.ca.
  2. ^ "Check Out: The National – "Exile Vilify"". 19 April 2011.
  3. ^ Portal 2: Collector's Edition Guide. Gardners Books. 2011. ISBN 978-3-86993-038-1.
  4. ^ Walker, John (2011-03-11). "The National To Provide Song For Portal 2". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  5. ^ a b Spicer, Nathan (2011-04-19). "The National Release "Exile Vilify" off Portal 2 Soundtrack". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
  6. ^ Dutton, Fred (2011-03-11). "The National write song for Portal 2". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  7. ^ "Mike Morasky Interview - Podcast 17". podcast17.com. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  8. ^ Orland, Kyle (2011-11-16). "Portal 2 Leads Spike TV VGA Nominees With 12 Nods". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  9. ^ Koller, Phil (2011-06-15). "Valve Announces Portal 2 Music Video Contest". Game Informer. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  10. ^ "Portal 2 Music Video Contest". Valve. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  11. ^ Benedetti, Winda (2011-08-09). "Sad sock puppet wins 'Portal 2' contest". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  12. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 December 2020.