The most recent episode of Glee featured a cool acoustic cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Too bad Jonathan Coulton had already released exactly the same arrangement in 2005. One Hypable author explains why Glee is in the wrong.

In 2005, Jonathan Coulton bought the statutory license to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” and sold a cover version featuring his own arrangement. In 2013, Glee also decided to cover “Baby Got Back” in a wonderfully creative way – by which I mean its arrangement was identical to Coulton’s. Coulton tweeted that Glee never asked him for permission, Glee didn’t care, and the Internet exploded.

So is ‘Glee’ in the right, or in the wrong?

Legally it has done nothing wrong. Glee is not required by law to credit Mr. Coulton, who did not write the original song. The show is well within its rights to spend hours and hours searching through various YouTube covers and ripping them off, rather than say, hiring someone to create original arrangements. Of course, if it has used direct samples from Coulton’s recording, there may be grounds for a legal complaint.

”jonathanRecently Coulton stated that the Glee producers had contacted him, saying:

They also got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure).

Coulton has a point (in fact, Coulton’s point is also my point). When Glee covers the original version of a song (e.g. fun.’s “We Are Young”), the band picks up exposure. This is because when I google the lyrics, I’ll see that this song was originally sung a band called fun. This might inspire me to check out (and purchase) fun.’s original version, or its album.

The problem that arises when Glee uses a cover version is painfully obvious. If I had googled “Baby got back lyrics” (prior to this fiasco), I’d see that this was a 1992 rap single by Sir Mix-A-Lot. If I had never heard Jonathan Coulton’s version (which I hadn’t), I’d probably think that Glee had thought up this new, highly original cover on its own. I’d probably be impressed. If I liked the song, I might even buy the Glee version.

So when Glee says Coulton will be getting exposure from this, let’s be clear: that’s complete rubbish. Unless he had called them out in the way he did, most of us would have been none the wiser.

What should ‘Glee’ have done differently?

jonathan coulton baby got back glee
Glee could have credited Coulton as a good will gesture to independent artists (and it still wouldn’t have had to pay him a cent). Hell, Glee could have just given him a heads up that it was planning on using it, which just seems like common courtesy and a smart PR move. It’s so disheartening that in this day and age, we don’t even expect large companies to do this. We know at the end of the day, it’s all a business, and it is all about money. But wouldn’t it be nice if they did.

Giving the arranger some love would also be ridiculously easy. Send a tweet from the official Glee Twitter linking back to the original arranger, or take five seconds to mention them in one of the many behind-the-scenes videos it drops on us each episode. As I said before – the show still wouldn’t owe Coulton any money, but it seems like the most decent way to handle the situation.

Glee itself has even set a precedent for this, as seen through its promotion of The ‘Real’ Warblers played by Tufts University Beelzebubs (who arranged and sang the majority of The Warblers’ songs), and the featuring of 2CELLOS on an episode of Glee performing their own signature version of “Smooth Criminal.” So it’s not that Glee can’t credit the arranger, it’s that it generally chooses not to.


“If this were an episode of Glee I would win. The way they’re behaving is so antithetical to the message of their show” – Jonathan Coulton


 

It’s especially frustrating in this case because Coulton’s arrangement was so far from the original, which featured next to no melody. If he hadn’t used the same lyrics, he probably could have released it as an original song.

When Glee covers fun., or Rihanna, or Madonna, I can very easily find out for myself who originally wrote that song. I don’t expect a list of credits to run at the end of every episode. But if it wants to rip off someone else’s arrangement note-for-note, I’d like to know who arranged it, please. Otherwise here’s a tip: employ your own arranger, there are plenty looking for work.

Basically Glee is the jerk in your class who listens to all of your great ideas, then writes them in his own essay and gets an A+. Technically, he’s done nothing wrong, but trust me when I say: no one likes that guy.

So ‘Glee,’ stop being a jerk just because you can

Note: Jonathan Coulton is not the only arranger to have been reluctantly featured on Glee. In fact, it happens more often than not, see Pedra Haden’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” and Greg Laswell’s arrangement of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” For more, check out this interview with Coulton, and this list.

And never fear, nice guys still exist. If you buy Coulton’s version of “Baby Got Back” before the end of February, all profits will be donated to The VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and The It Gets Better Project.

Images: Dale May, Fox

Forget seeing Luke Cage and Daisy Johnson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Jeph Loeb, it’s simply too hard to plan.

Although the Marvel movies and TV series ostensibly exist in the same universe, and although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does its best to include Avengers references whenever possible, TV show characters are unlikely to ever show up in the movies.

This despite Chloe Bennet’s continued efforts to remind people that she is, in fact, Marvel’s first on-screen female Asian superhero, and the awesome crossover possibilities the Marvel Netflix series have opened up.

Marvel fans have long been aware of the difficulties of bringing TV characters into the movie ‘verse, but at the 2016 TCAs, Jeph Loeb provided a few more reasons for why it’s practically impossible to coordinate.

“Part of the challenge of doing this sort of thing is that the movies are planned out years in advance of what it is that we are doing,” Loeb says, as quoted by SlashFilm. “Television moves at an incredible speed. The other part of the problem is that when you stop and think about it, if I’m shooting a television series and that’s going to go on over a six-month or eight-month period, how am I going to get Mike [Colter] to be able to go be in a movie? I need Mike to be in a television show.”

In terms of planning out the character arcs, this makes a lot of sense. A Marvel movie might be mapped out years in advance of production, for not to mention release, which means any character scheduled to appear would need to have their stories planned for many seasons in advance. The continuity would certainly be hard to keep track of.

Of course they could still throw in cameos, which fans would probably really appreciate — and crossovers from movies-TV are much more doable, as evidenced by Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander)’s multiple appearances on AoS.

But Marvel is wary of doing that too much, too, because “we never want to be known as an Easter egg farm. It has to work within the story. We never want to do Luke Cage gets into a cab as Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdock are getting out of the cab,” Loeb says, referencing The Man From U.N.C.L.E..

However, don’t lose hope yet. “Anything is possible,” says Loeb. “As I often get reported by you folks for saying #ItsAllConnected, our feeling is that the connection isn’t just whether or not somebody is walking into a movie or walking out of a television show. It’s connected in the way that the shows come from the same place, that they are real, that they are grounded.”

Would you like to see Marvel TV and movie characters cross over more?

If Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda weren’t enough to get you excited about Mary Poppins Returns, maybe Meryl Streep’s name on the roster will do the trick.

Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake of the original 1964 classic but rather a sequel to the Julie Andrews-led musical. As such, it stands to reason that we’ll be getting some new characters this time around. One of those characters will be Miranda’s Jack, who will be a street lamplighter.

And, according to Variety, another one of those new characters will also be portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep, who will be taking on the role of Mary Poppins’ cousin, Topsy. And, yes, the legendary actress will be taking on a singing role for the film.

This will also reunite Streep with her Into the Woods co-star Blunt, as well as Director Rob Marshall and Producer Marc Platt. Streep played the Witch in Into the Woods, while Blunt portrayed the Baker’s Wife opposite James Corden.

Disney’s official synopsis for Mary Poppins Returns reads:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Mary Poppins Returns and will hit theaters December 25, 2018.

Are you on board with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ now that Meryl Streep has joined the cast?

Uh oh — fans of Nick and Jess aren’t going to like this news! Megan Fox is returning to New Girl in season 6 for a major arc.

Last season, Megan Fox stepped in to fill in Jess’ place while Zooey Deschanel was on maternity leave. During that time, Fox’s character Regan grew quite close to Nick! They even ended up going to Cece and Schmidt’s wedding together and made plans for the summer. With awful timing too, since it seemed like Jess was just about ready to admit her feelings for Nick.

Now TV Line is reporting that Fox will be returning for a huge story arc in New Girl season 6. It’s believed that Nick will return home from his summer with Regan alone, but she will appear around the middle of the season. The timing of her appearance is due to Fox’s own pregnancy with her third child.

If we had to guess, we’d say that the writers will definitely be throwing some angst into the script. It always seems like either Jess or Nick is pining for the other while they’re in a relationship. Will Jess try to get over her feelings for Nick with someone else? Or will she just try to show him why they should be together? Fans will have to wait and see when the show returns!

New Girl season 6 returns to Fox on September 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET!

Are you excited to see Megan Fox return to ‘New Girl’?