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

In interesting but potentially brilliant casting news, comedian Amy Schumer will be taking on the role of Barbie for a live-action film.

Take a moment to soak in the news. Now revel in the idea. This could be awesome.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Schumer is not only leading the project on screen, but she’ll also have an influence on the script.

Read full article

In interesting but potentially brilliant casting news, comedian Amy Schumer will be taking on the role of Barbie for a live-action film.

Take a moment to soak in the news. Now revel in the idea. This could be awesome.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Schumer is not only leading the project on screen, but she’ll also have an influence on the script.

Last year, Sony had their pick of three complete scripts for a live-action Barbie movie. Of those three, they chose Hilary Winston’s. Now that Schumer is on board, THR says to expect her and her sister, Kim Caramele, to rewrite Winston’s original idea.

The plot, given that Schumer doesn’t change the major details, “begins in a perfect land of Barbies where one woman slowly awakens to the fact that she doesn’t fit it. She is expelled from the idealistic land and journeys to the real world, where she discovers that being unique is an asset.”

The outlet also addresses the fact that Mattel has had to deal with plenty of criticism regarding body image and race when it comes to the Barbie toys. Schumer’s casting is a great way to speak to some of those issues, and will hopefully provide a positive and uplifting message by the movie’s end.

There will be, of course, some hesitation given Schumer’s previous work. One only has to look as far as Trainwreck and Inside Amy Schumer to see her comedy is often brutally honest and raunchy. Barbie would be shocked.

But Schumer is an actress, after all, and a brilliant comedian. For this “contemporary spin on beauty, feminism and identity,” she seems like just the right fit.

What do you think of Amy Schumer as Barbie?

It’s arguably the biggest day for Hamilton fans since the release of the original Broadway recording: The Hamilton Mixtape has arrived!

Following years of development, the Hamilton Mixtape was released around the world on Friday, December 2. Mixtape features, well, remixes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton hits, sung by artists both big and small from various genres.

To celebrate the album’s release, a special #Ham4Ham was hosted at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday night, where names like Ashanti, Ja Rule, Regina Spektor, and Andra Day performed their songs from Mixtape:

Read full article

It’s arguably the biggest day for Hamilton fans since the release of the original Broadway recording: The Hamilton Mixtape has arrived!

Following years of development, the Hamilton Mixtape was released around the world on Friday, December 2. Mixtape features, well, remixes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton hits, sung by artists both big and small from various genres.

To celebrate the album’s release, a special #Ham4Ham was hosted at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday night, where names like Ashanti, Ja Rule, Regina Spektor, and Andra Day performed their songs from Mixtape:

Stream ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’:

Spotify users can easily stream The Hamilton Mixtape below. You can also listen here via Apple Music.:

And you can purchase a physical copy from Amazon here (you know all the Hamilton fans in your life will want a physical copy):

Hamilton Mixtape tracklist

1. No John Trumbull (Intro) – The Roots
2. My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix] – The Roots
3. Wrote My Way Out – Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
4. Wait For It – Usher
5. An Open Letter (feat. Shockwave) [Interlude] – Watsky
6. Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia
7. Dear Theodosia (feat. Ben Folds) – Regina Spektor
8. Valley Forge (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
9. It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson
10. That Would Be Enough – Alicia Keys
11. Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) – K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente
12. You’ll Be Back – Jimmy Fallon & The Roots
13. Helpless (feat. Ja Rule) – Ashanti
14. Take A Break (Interlude) – !llmind
15. Say Yes To This – Jill Scott
16. Congratulations – Dessa
17. Burn – Andra Day
18. Stay Alive (Interlude) – J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot
19. Slavery Battle (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
20. Washington’s By Your Side – Wiz Khalifa
21. History Has Its Eyes On You – John Legend
22. Who Tells Your Story (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson) – The Roots
23. Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance The Rapper & Francis and The Lights

What are our favorite performances on ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’?

Chris Pratt is currently on a press tour for Passengers. Jennifer Lawrence may or may not be there too.

Passengers, the new sci-fi epic starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, comes out later this month. The promo tour has kicked off in Europe, with the two stars on hand to answer all our questions.

To entertain himself (and his fans!), Chris Pratt has been updating his Instagram with funny photos and captions from the tour.

Read full article

Chris Pratt is currently on a press tour for Passengers. Jennifer Lawrence may or may not be there too.

Passengers, the new sci-fi epic starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, comes out later this month. The promo tour has kicked off in Europe, with the two stars on hand to answer all our questions.

To entertain himself (and his fans!), Chris Pratt has been updating his Instagram with funny photos and captions from the tour.

There’s some real gold in there, but the best part is when he realizes that fans really want to see some pictures of Jennifer Lawrence — who doesn’t have her own social media accounts — and proceeds to very decidedly not include her!

Update: He did it again.


See some of the hilarious posts from Chris Pratt below:

Finally got that selfie with Jen y'all wanted. #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Just hanging with my bestie Jen. #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Here Jen and I pose with @elrubiuswtf

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Here's an extremely artistic and meaningful video I made in which Jen is heavily featured. #passengersmovie

A video posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Another day down with me and my best buddy Jen. #London #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Not going to lie — we’re almost as excited for the press interview videos as we are for the movie itself!

‘Passengers’ hits cinemas on December 21