It didn't take long on Friday for fans to alert singer Jonathan Coulton of a very curious music clip posted to YouTube assumed to be from an upcoming episode of Glee. Fans—and the musician himself—were quick to point out the Fox dramedy's version of "Baby Got Back" sounds almost identical to Coulton's cover of the song which appeared on his 2005 album.
While cover songs are created every minute these days, anyone familiar with the 1992 original "Baby Got Back" can't deny how unique the 2005 cover was compared to the original; listening to Coulton's version side-by-side with the Glee version, it's arguably the same arrangement.
While the track is not currently available in the U.S. iTunes store, gaming blog Kotaku claims that it “was available earlier [in the Swedish iTunes store] and was pulled by Fox.” At press time, the network had not responded to the accusations.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, Coulton could very well have a case here. Copyright law is very clear and his cover version is considered a derivative work. The law states that "the copyright of a derivative work covers ... the additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work."
Coulton actually asserts that the Fox series "may have even used parts of my own recording.”
One standout quirk in the new cover is Coulton’s swapping out the original mention of "Sir Mix-a-Lot" and replacing it with "Johnny C," which is still heard in the Glee audio. “It’s possible they chose to reproduce the arrangement exactly," Coulton said. "But I’m not sure why they would have kept all my bad choices in there and not found one thing to improve."
We're sure Glee probably hoped to ignite some nostalgia with the cover, but they probably didn't anticipate this kind of memory flareup.
When asked about any of his upcoming projects, Coulton joked: “I’m creating a new TV show. It’s called Glee.”
Listen to the original:
Listen to the Glee version: