However, with one of their arrangements for next week's episode, Glee appears to have flagrantly stolen an arrangement from geeky songwriter Jonathan Coulton.
Coulton, well-known for his now-classic video game anthem "Still Alive" from the game Portal (as well as for performing on our roof deck that one time), tweeted about the song this morning:
Here's Coulton's arrangement, which was first released on his 2006 album Thing a Week One.
And here's the Glee version, which will be in the eleventh episode of season four, "Sadie Hawkins," and will air next week on the 24th.
...Yeah. It's more than a similaritiy—it is a straight-up, near-total copy. Sometimes there's wiggle room on this kind of thing, but not here. The phrasing, the instrumentation, even the reharmonization at "Baby got Back" - it's all identical. It's even in the same key.
As Coulton put it on twitter:
After listening, I think that @gleeonfox may have even used parts of my recording. Do I hear a duck quack? And of course they say "Johnny C"— Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton) January 18, 2013
The only caveat here is that the Glee episode containing the cover hasn't aired yet, and so the YouTube version is the only one we've got to go on. The Glee Wiki describes the song's appearance in detail, but the FOX website doesn't mention the tune. "Baby Got Back" is not among the Glee season 4 songs for sale on iTunes.
I've reached out to both Coulton and FOX for comment, and will update this story when I hear back.
Update: It appears that the track, while currently not available on the US iTunes store, was may have been available earlier and was pulled by Fox. The track is still available elsewhere, like on the Swedish iTunes store.