Ownertorial: The Glee/Divisi Controversy

(The following article expresses opinions solely held by Shawn Pearce and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of other subscribers and members of this website.)

SOURCE ARTICLE:  Comparison of Glee’s version of “Yeah” to U. Oregon Divisi’s version of “Yeah”

For those of you that follow my blog posts, I am an unabashed “Gleek”.   I do weekly reviews, many of their recordings are in rotation on my mp3 player, and I’ve especially liked the inclusion of a cappella music into the show this year via the Dalton Academy Warblers (played by the Tufts Beelzebubs in recordings).

Last night, the above article sent waves of shock and outrage through much of the a cappella community.  To summate, it appears by all accounts that a vocal arrangement of Usher’s “Yeah” set to debut on next weeks finale is a note for note, concept for concept copy of an arrangement created by Evynne Hollens  (wife of noted a cappella performer Peter Hollens) for U of Oregon’s Divisi in 2005.

Many were upset at the idea of Evynne’s work being so brazenly stolen from her by Glee.   Some suggest not watching the show anymore.   Some have suggested litigation.   The reactions are varied, but most share the thought that the show and Fox network give credit where it is due.

I have to wonder whether this was a calculated move on the producers part of if one of their house arrangers simply took it upon themselves to present Evynne’s work as their own.  By all accounts, the right thing to do is to give her credit for the work.   The arrangment is *amazing*.

However, boycotting the show isn’t as effective as publicly stating the threat to boycott.   Consumer pressure is an amazing thing.   Recently, “Weird” Al Yankovic went public with his frustration that Lady Gaga wouldn’t give her consent to his planned parody of “Born This Way” and decided to release the track for free on YouTube.   Within the day, the public outcry was loud enough that Gaga relented (she also put the blame on her producer for never presenting her directly with the request), and the parody will be on this album.

If you feel that the producers of “Glee” should do the right thing in giving Evynne the proper credit for her arrangement, I encourage you to voice this opinion loudly and publicly.    Entertainment Weekly and TV Line are both entertainment websites that produce a LOT of content in regards to Glee.   You can write to them via the following links:

Entertainment Weekly
TV Line

If they get enough viewer mail from people upset by this, chances are good they will research and run the story because sites like that love controversy that draws eyes to their articles.  It is likely that if “Glee” does do the right thing, they will pillory a subordinate in a similar fashion to what Lady Gaga did, but if it leads them to do the morally right thing, then the current vitriol towards “Glee” will have a positive end result.

For years, fans of a cappella have wanted to see the medium become more mainstream.  “Glee” has done a lot this season to foster that, and although this revelation does upset me as a fan, I’m willing to give them a shot at correcting their mistake before I give up on them.   But it is a mistake, and even if they don’t legally owe Evynne a thing, I hope they fix it.

***UPDATE***  Publicity has begun:  PopEater’s article on the controversy. Neither side is giving further details at the moment, but at first glance this is looking like the accusations are definitely having merit, as opposed to it being an unfortunate error.  Stay tuned.

***SECOND UPDATE***  According to this article from KEZI TV in Eugene, Oregon, credit will be given where due by Fox.  This is good news!

To hear Evynne’s latest project, check out the below version of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”,  featuring Peter and Evynne Hollens and Jake Moulton:


About Shawn Pearce

Shawn is the owner of Value Vocals. He is a 20 year a cappella veteran who has over 200 total arrangements to his credit, and was one of the leading catalysts to the creation of Penn State University's a cappella community as it exists today.