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Plugged In

‘Glee’ accused of ripping off acclaimed video game songwriter

Plugged In

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Jonathan Coulton vs. Glee (Credit: Getty Images/Fox)

Fox’s sugary hit "Glee" hasn’t met a hit song it wouldn’t cover with Broadway pizzazz. And while the show’s tight arrangements are often thrilling to legions of Gleeks, legions of geeks are steaming over a track they believe was stolen from one of their own.

Jonathan Coulton, a songwriter best known as the man behind the epic “Still Alive” from the critically-acclaimed game Portal (as well as the equally awesome “Want You Gone” from Portal 2), took Fox to task on Twitter for what appears to be the outright theft of his cover of the 90’s hip-hop anthem “Baby Got Back.”

“Hey look, @GLEEonFOX ripped off my cover of Baby Got Back,” he tweeted. “Never even contacted me. Classy.”

A simple misunderstanding? Like Sir Mix-a-Lot, the audio cannot lie. Here’s Coulton’s take, which first appears on his 2006 album “Thing a Week”:

Compare that to the "Glee" version, which is set to appear in the current season’s eleventh episode (“Sadie Hawkins”), which airs Jan. 24:

Yeah. Safe to say, Coulton’s definitely on to something, especially since the "Glee" version even ‘borrows’ choice bits from Coulton’s cover.

“A complicating factor is that, to my ears, it sounds like it actually uses the audio from my recording – not the vocals obviously, but the instruments sound EXTREMELY similar,” Coulton wrote on his website. “And I could swear I hear the duck quack somewhere in the background there, though it’s hard to say if that’s just my ears expecting it.”

However, the reality of the ripoff is a bit murkier. The show with the offending track has yet to air, and the song isn’t listed anywhere on the official "Glee" website. It also doesn’t appear in the US iTunes store version of "Glee" Season 4, though it oddly does appear as a single on the Swedish iTunes store. Then there’s the fact that it’s a cover of a cover, which throws the whole thing into an "Inception"-like legal wormhole.

Regardless, angry Coulton fans spent Friday morning flooding @GLEEonFOX with complaints. The network has yet to comment.

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