How ‘Glee’ ripping off an indie artist led to musical recaps for ‘The Good Wife’ creators

A hit musical TV show that used Jonathan Coulton”s work without permission turned out to be his path to getting his songwriting on BrainDead, the new series from the creators of The Good Wife.

“This is the standard path for any musician. Anybody who wants to end up where I am making recap songs for a show should definitely start by covering a rap song from the “90s,” Coulton deadpanned. “No, it”s this strange, circuitous path, and I would be lying if I said any of those steps made sense at the time.”

In 2013, Glee covered Coulton”s acoustic cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot”s “Baby Got Back” – original melody, his line “Johnny C”s in trouble” and all – without giving the indie artist any credit or payment.

The hullabaloo that followed became the inspiration for a court case in The Good Wife episode “Goliath and David.”

Coulton got a cameo appearance in that episode that aired in 2014. Shortly after filming, Good Wife co-creator Robert King told the singer-songwriter a bit about this weird comedy/political thriller he was developing, asking Coulton if he”d want to be involved in the music. “I said, ‘Well, yes, of course,”” Coulton recalled.

Two years later, King kept true to his word, asking Coulton to write musical recaps for BrainDead. Each week, the episode opens with “previously on BrainDead…” segments, told in wacky tunes written and sung by Coulton.

The show is a political satire laced with some sci-fi, so it”s a good fit for Coulton, whose songs tend towards geek culture. In the comic-thriller, which premiered on CBS earlier this month, politicians” brains are being eaten by alien bugs.

Coulton”s approach of writing the recap songs is “I am a fan watching the show, and these are the things I would tell my friend about what happened in the last show.”