Next Thursday, Glee returns, and one of the Sadie Hawkins Day-themed episode’s songs is a cover of “Baby Got Back.” Sir Mix-A-Lot’s much-beloved ode to large posteriors will be performed by Oliver Kieran-Jones, who plays a new love interest for Chris Colfer’s Kurt and who is the head of a group called Adam And The Apples. (Yes, he’s Adam.) Apparently, AATAs are heavily influenced by the singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton, who has been covering “Baby Got Back” since 2005. Coulton’s version is the sort of self-satisfied retrofitting of a hip-hop hit that people who fancy themselves geeks eat up like it’s chocolate ice creamand so is the Glee cover! Really, the two are extremely similar, with the exception of Glee‘s version being substantially shorter. Listen for yourself:
The Coulton version:
The Glee version:
If you want to drive yourself really mad, you can listen to both songs at once, although don’t say you weren’t warned.
While “white guy remakes rap song in a kinda self-deprecatingly dorky manner” is a trope that’s been played out since Dynamite Hack dropped their “Boyz N The Hood” cover 13 years ago, the wholesale lifting of Coulton’s approach to the songright down to the buried-in-the-mix sound effects and lyrical reference to “Johnny C”is pretty breathtaking, especially since Coulton has enough clout to inspire a sizeable chunk of the Internet to act on his behalf; he’s seen as a bit of a folk hero by the Reddit set because he peppers his lyrics with references to programming and other aspects of geek culture, and he makes most of his music available for free download under a Creative Commons license.
Today, he started his campaign by firing off a bunch of tweets registering his displeasure: “Hey look, @GLEEonFOX ripped off my cover of Baby Got Back. Never even contacted me. Classy. After listening, I think that @GLEEonFOX may have even used parts of my recording. Do I hear a duck quack?… It sounds to me like they even used my recording, not just my arrangement. Which is nuts.” (The Glee account called out in the tweets, for its part, has not responded, although it has asked other Twitter folks about their choice of apparel for today.) He followed that up with a blog post noting that he’d registered his arrangement of the song with the music-publishing agency Harry Fox, and his fans responded… with a hashtag. Watch out, Fox, it’s a slippery slope from hashtags to people sending you guitar strings en masse!
[Episode details via MJ]