Glee is the Answer When Questions Are Wrong: That Glee Thing
  • BrettGlassBrettGlass January 2013
    @Blue You can bet that Fox is doing everything it can to bury evidence that might be subpoenaed.
  • GinaGina January 2013
    I can't find the chart listings on itunes. Help?
  • chicazulchicazul January 2013
    @Gina In the itunes store there should be lists like "Top Singles" and "Top Albums" on the home page. (In my version of itunes they're on the far right.) They're a little more obvious if you go to the "Music" section first. Clicking on the headings for each chart should bring up the whole list.

    At this moment, I see JoCo at #181 under "Top Singles" and #4 in the subcategory "Singer/Songwriter".

    ETA: I should mention I'm looking at the Canadian charts. Also, the fastest way to access charts in itunes 11 for Mac appears to be: click and hold on Music in the top menu bar of the itunes store.
  • GinaGina January 2013
    Thanks, that helped me find it! It's #151 and #3 respectively, on mine (US, I guess).
  • GinaGina January 2013
    And, now a couple minutes later, it's #149 in all catagories and #2 in singer/songwriter.
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    @Caleb has been investigating whether they used JoCo's audio, and found a couple of changes in the bass line.
  • Caleb January 2013
    Man, it seems like it's been forever since I've come onto these forums. I was going to come post my findings, (re: Your Backing Tracks) and here I am still getting ninja'd! Thanks for sharing that for me, @Angelastic!
    (Despite what I found, I'm fully Team JoCo!)
  • katekate January 2013
    All categories: #122
    Singer/songwriter: #2
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    I'm suddenly disappointed he didn't sing Baby Got Back at the Glee Club in Birmingham in 2008.
  • katekate January 2013
    All categories #120! Go Go Go!
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    I saw this Forbes article on facebook and made a bet with myself that @kate would have posted it here before I got here. Not yet, but maybe she will have by the time I hit Post.
  • katekate January 2013
    You are awesome, @Angelastic!
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    I am exactly as awesome as you, @kate!
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    So I listened to Caleb's analysis and I agree with it. But I also agree (I would hope I would, at least!) to my analysis in which I think I found a very EQ'ed duck quack. So... where does that leave the question of whether Fox used Coulton's source tracks?

    This next bit gets, well, a little crazy. I feel like I'm among friends here, but how about this: if you do not ACTUALLY have a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (yours truly) or know that you are somewhere on the autism spectrum yourself (yours truly, several of my children, my wife...) or basically, any other notable attention SURPLUS disorder, you might want to drop out now. If you continue reading to the end, I can only say -- um, hey, you might want to just _talk_ to a friendly psychotherapist, OK? I mean, it can be helpful to know these things. Anyway, you've been warned.


    I think one thing that could be done, and I can probably do pretty quickly, is verifying if all the versions of JoCo's songs really are identical, or if he re-recorded a bass part at some point (maybe it was bugging him and he fixed it in the release for JoCo Looks Back, or something).

    It seems like he really only released two versions, the original and the Karaoke version, but technically there are a LOT of versions. I think most of them start from his identical mastered stereo mix but I have not _confirmed_ that, if the distinction makes sense. For example, is it possible that he changed up the bass track when getting it ready for JoCo Looks Back?

    These are all the versions I can think of; there are at least 0xB of them:

    0x0 Hypothetical early version that appeared on his blog or something; does it exist?
    0x1 CD rip Thing a Week (to WAV of ALAC or FLAC)
    0x2 Online store track from Thing a Week -- MP3
    0x3 Online store track Thing a Week -- Ogg
    0x4 Online store track from Thing a Week -- FLAC
    0x5 CD rip from JoCo Looks Back
    0x6 Online store track from JoCo Looks Back -- MP3
    0x7 Online store track from JoCo Looks Back -- Ogg
    0x8 Online store track from JoCo Looks Back -- FLAC
    0x9 Karaoke MP3
    0xA Source tracks

    I have 0x1, 0x2, 0x4, 0x6, 0x9, 0xA, and _maybe_ 0x8. I'll have to check. I've bought these tracks many times -- on the Thing a Week CD set, on the USB stick (to get the source tracks), via Coulton's MP3 store, via Coulton's FLAC store (to upgrade the audio quality)... I thought I had the JoCo Looks Back CD on my shelf but I could not find it when I looked a couple of days ago. I hope even the most die-hard fan will understand when I say that I am happy to pay Mr. Coulton for his tracks but I have _done_ that, and DON'T WANT TO BUY ANY MORE VERSIONS OF THE SAME DAMNED SONG...)

    ANYWAY, I will try this afternoon to compare these versions via file diff and phase cancellation and see if there are any notable differences like an altered bass line.

    There are also at least 3 versions of the Glee tracks to compare:

    0x1: a rip of the audio from the unofficial YouTube track
    0x2: the iTunes store version (yes, I bought it... sorry... it was for science)
    0x3: a rip of the audio from the official YouTube track (shortened version presumably as it aired).

    The ONLY version of this that doesn't have the quack is the source tracks, but note that it is hard to get a really clean comparison of the source tracks against the mix and mastered Glee track, because there are edits, fades, mastering, panning... what else?

    OK. More later.

  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    I have 0x0, as downloaded from the Thing A Week podcast in late 2006 when I went back to find the ones from before I subscribed (so if there was an earlier version when it was originally posted in October 2005, I don't have that.) I never bought it from the site and I don't think I ever bothered to rip it from the CD after I bought that, so I don't know if that's any different, but I've never noticed a difference between the podcast version and the JoCo Looks Back version. Do you want me to upload it somewhere so you can compare?
  • aliceandstuffaliceandstuff January 2013
    Paul, one thing that has been bothering me that you could try. Have you tried taking the audio out of the youtube video and cancelling the center channel? If we assume the producers at Glee are super lazy, found the video and ripped the audio from there it might match the weird compression levels that everyone has said prevented them from cancelling the instrumental from the Glee version.

    Or if someone made a youtube video of the karaoke track itself even. I kind of feel like expecting the producers to have tracked down the source karaoke track is giving them too much credit.
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    Here's 0x0, or as close to it as I can get.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Thanks! OK... so here is what I've found out so far

    I have 0x01 (CD rip of Thing a Week) and 0x4 or 0x8 (FLAC from the online store, but I am not sure WHICH album, Thing a Week or JoCo Looks Back -- as I purchased it as an individual track, there are no tags in the resulting WAVE file, and the confirmation e-mails don't say which, maybe they are the same?)

    Anyway, messing with just these two, the result is interesting. I can align them sample-by-sample. If I mix them together I get the same song at 6 dB louder, which is exactly what you'd expect (all the samples are twice as loud). If I invert one, I get SILENCE -- they cancel each other out perfectly. That's what is supposed to happen, and it proves they are sample-identical, but it is a little freaky to actually hear it.

    There are other interesting things you can do with them, though. You can invert one channel and mix it to mono and then mix that phase-cancelled mono signal with the stereo signal. This kills everything that is identical in both channels -- things that are panned center drop out, and you have only some of the instruments and backing tracks. The lead vocal is gone, the bass is gone, and most of the percussion is gone, but the strings and tambourine and claps are there. This would have made a possible starting point for the Glee version -- except that the quack is not there at all. So the quack was mono, centered too. So this indicates to me that Glee did not start with one of these lossless versions of the track and do this cancellation trick (assuming you are a duck believer).

    SO, hypothesis 1: Glee started with the CD of Thing a Week or the matching FLAC and center-killed it to make a backing track. Disproven (assuming you believe in the duck). HOWEVER, this would have been a really effective way to kill the bass, and if they then re-recorded bass and percussion, you could easily have a situation like the one Caleb noted.

    Hypothesis 2: they used an MP3. Working on that now.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    OK, 2 copies of the MP3, aligned, will also perfectly cancel (as you'd expect). If I do the center-kill trick, the result is interesting: it does create the "Karaoke track" and kill the bass completely and lead vocal... but only MOST of the vocal. There is just a trace of high frequency sibilance left that allow you to hear what he's singing. And more importantly, there is a "ghost quack" left. So... intriguing. I think it is very likely that they started with the MP3 and did this center-kill technique and re-recorded the bass and percussion. The results would go along with leaving behind that "quack remnant."

    Hypothesis 3: they used the Karaoke MP3. Working on that now.

    Hypothesis 4: there is some difference in the Coulton versions that would explain the discrepancy in the bass... that's next up.
  • paulandstorm January 2013
    I love you people.

    That is all.

  • Caleb January 2013
    Very interesting stuff, Paul! I had forgotten that, with the Bass being centered, it would have cancelled out in a phase inversion. That definitely seems like a valid explanation for why it would have to be re-recorded.
  • BrettGlassBrettGlass January 2013
    One other theory that should be tested is that they used a vocal canceler -- rather than starting with the Karaoke track -- and that this both muted the quack and messed up the bass part, requiring some patching. It would explain why mistakes in the string parts are still there, and why the drums appear to be identical. It would also account for the "center kill" reported above.
  • BryBry January 2013
    I just realized something -- I am so happy that this whole thing didn't break while the entire JoCoverse went cruising. (Especially for JoCo -- seems like these couple weeks have been stressful enough without the added complication of, y'know, being on a boat.)
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    A big 'Me too!' to both P's and Bry's comments. Glee should've stuck to ripping off artists with less tech-savvy fans. I hope there is some sort of resolution and not a big thrust of fresh dickery before the cruise. And plenty of Glee jokes on the cruise.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Hypothesis 4 I have pretty much ruled out, and with it the idea that Coulton changed up the bass between versions.

    From what I can tell, the early MP3 version is technically a different file, but it is made from the same starting mix. Compression or mastering settings could be very slightly different, levels maybe very sightly difference, but I could hear no differences that would indicate that (for example) a different bass part was recorded. I am assuming this also means there are no differences between the JoCo Looks Back and Thing a Week CD, FLAC, or MP3 versions; does anyone think otherwise?

    Still working on hypothesis 3.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Caleb, it was actually Jon Schell who pointed that out in the comments on JoCo's first post -- at least, that's the first I heard of the idea. He included a link to a little demo that shows how perfectly it center-cancels (and he's right, I can confirm it cancels absolutely perfectly with the lossless, and less perfectly but still pretty effectively with the MP3).
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    OK, hypothesis 3 (they used the Karaoke MP3) is currently in the lead. If you do the inversion trick it kills the bass and percussion very effectively but there is quite a noticeable "quack" remnant.

    I will write another blog entry and include my WAV files of the cancellation experiments so other folks can hear them.

    What is left in the Karaoke MP3 of JoCo's backing vocals are the "yeah, yeah-ahhh" and then the "little/middle LA Face with the Oakland Booty/she gotta pack much back" part so now I have to verify if those are in the Fox version, or if they had a plausible way of getting rid of them.
  • BrettGlassBrettGlass January 2013
    Another thing to check: Did JoCo's bass line differ subtly between verses? Fox could have looped one verse, so before we assume that the bass line was redone we should also look for the same notes in another verse of JoCo's recording.
  • paulrpotts January 2013

    If I put the Glee cast version up against the Karaoke version with the center kill, it seems very plausible that they used it, right up until the "little middle/LA Face with the Oakland Booty" part of the backing vox on the chorus. The Glee cast version does not have the "little middle" repeats. It's missing. You can hear what sound's like JoCo's "yeahhhs" and "LA Face with the Oakland Booty" in the Glee cast version, but the "little middle" bit is not there. 

    Could this have been an _edit_ in the Glee version? A copy and paste of a previous measure? It's a whole number of measures, so it seems like it could have been done. The center-killed Karaoke (or original CD track) matches so absolutely perfectly up to this point, it doesn't seem right to throw up my hands at this point and say "no, they didn't use it, see, it's different at this point). And we already think they did an edit at the beginning at the hand-clap points. So... hmmm...

  • CraigCraig January 2013
    iTunes Chart Update: JoCo is at #110.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    There is another tiny difference in the instruments that could represent an edit, maybe...
  • SpoonerSpooner January 2013
    I'm firmly in the @BrettGlass camp. I think Fox did this the easy way by simply canceling the vocals, which will just about always affect other parts in some way (bass discrepancies). The banjo flubs and just about identical percussion are strong evidence of this. As Brett mentioned in an earlier post, lts virtually impossible to record two identical drum tracks. Even If the same drummer sits at the same set and records the same song 100 times you are still likely to get 100 subtly different and unique tracks because there are so many variables at play. Further no competent musical director would ever tell a drummer to play a track EXACTLY as it appears on the original (or on a cover), but rather in the style of that reference song. The reason for this is that you'd get something that doesn't sound as good, as drummers just about always sound better when they are able to use their own percussion vocabulary rather then trying to mimic anther drummers track exactly. Again as Brett pointed out earlier there is absolutely no advantage to rerecording a drum track exactly as it was done in the source material, and in this case where there are copyright issues at play there really is a great advantage in making it sound different from the song being covered.
  • maleteromaletero January 2013
    Great work, everyone! I do have a question/comment, though.

    I'm not as sure about the drums being *exactly* the same. Now, I'm not even a dabbler in the technical stuff you guys are doing, but to my ears, the drums sound a little different. It's like the tail end of the drum on the 2 and 4 (I think) are clipped in the Glee version. Would clipping the tails off the drums be another effect of the canceling you guys are talking about? It makes some sense to me that it might, but I'm not sure. I'd be interested to see if your experiments also reproduce the clipping. 

    Oh, but there is definitely a muted *something* where the quack should be. 

    And the song's up to 107 on the iTunes charts.
  • Caleb January 2013
    Brett, I actually thought of that too. I didn't check comprehensively, but from what I've seen, JoCo's seems to be copy/pasted itself. In particular, I wsn't able to find the E in "Example 2" anywhere else in his song. Also, the C (example 1, #4) is the same slightly-too-loud half note after each chorus. As a matter of fact, it's the exact same as the C half note at the very beginning of the song. Which Glee, ironically, does seem to keep as a half note.

    I didn't mention it in my post (because it was getting long), but there's also a spot in JoCo's bass track where he accidentally hits two strings at one (in each verse), which I also can't find in the Glee track. But if Paul's right, and the bass got cancelled, its a moot point.

    Here's another thing I just found, though I'm not sure what it means. You know that scratchy string noise when you run your finger along a guitar string without playing it (to change hand positions)? I'm clearly hearing one of those in the Glee track, but not in Coulton. I'm starting both videos at 0:50, and it occurs a few seconds after that. Just after the words "average groupie", there's a short 3-note banjo run, and in the Glee version, there's a string scratch just after the third note.
    Glee (has a loud string scratch)
    Coulton (doesn't, AFAICT)
    I'm not sure what to make of that. It's certainly possible that it was added later for some reason. My first thought was if there was an on-screen cut of the instrumentalist at that point, it would solidify the illusion of them playing it, but this section doesn't appear to be in the TV version. Second thought was if there were a flaw in the Coulton track at that point, they could be hiding it, but I don't hear one here.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Holy crap. Caleb, you're right. Good ear!

    Right now I'm working with the center-cancelled Karaoke track and the Glee track from iTunes and I'm pretty convinced that this is what they used. But I think there are some edits they did to remove some of Coulton's backing vocal phrases. And that string scratch -- it's got to be an added sound effect! It's not in any of the Coulton loops.
  • SimalotSimalot January 2013
    I asked JoCo if he had a preferred purchase place for the song and he responded that iTunes would be the preferred place, as it has the most visible song chart.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    OK... I have to quit for today. My ears are starting to fatigue. I've been listening to tracks mixed, tracks together, tracks inverted, tracks center-cancelled, etc.

    I think it's very likely that Fox started with JoCo's MP3 Karaoke track, not a CD rip or a FLAC. They did a trick where you take two copies and phase-invert one, and mix it to mono, and then mix that with the second copy. All the things that are perfectly centered in the mix cancel out. The result in this case is a track with bass, lead vocal, and most of the drums cancelled, but there is just a trace of failure to center-cancel things that are perfectly centered -- hence the faint remnant of the quack.

    I tested this on both the MP3 from JoCo Looks Back and the Karaoke MP3, and the resulting track is almost identical. There is a faint leakage of leftover lead vocal if I use the JoCo Looks Back MP3, though, that isn't there on the Karaoke track -- so, most likely the Karaoke track.

    Then, they could easily have added a new bass and percussion track, and beyond that I think there might have been some slight edits. There was a touch-up that Jon noted on the opening hand-claps. There was a string squeak added as Caleb noted. I think there were some spots where there were edits to cover up things in the backing vox they didn't want -- the "little middle" and "little middle/gotta pack much back" bits. And I think they tried to EQ out the remainder of the "duck" event a little bit.

    If you want to try to reproduce this, here's what I'm listening to right now: take two copies of Coulton's MP3 from JoCo Looks back; convert it back to a WAVE or whatever. Line up two copies. Gain both of them up 3.0 dB, and then phase invert both left and right channels on the first copy, and reduce it to mono. Pan both this and second copy to one side, and you'll have a backing track in one ear. Then line this up with the Glee MP3 from iTunes. Make the Glee track mono as well, and pan that to the other side. To compensate for the additional compression Glee did, cut this down by -4.5 dB.

    Now I've got this on headphones. The advantage to listening to it this way is that things that are the same in both tracks sound basically centered, and when there is a notable different you hear something jump to one side. To me it sounds so close that it is hard to convince myself there is any way they did not use Coulton's track. The biggest points of diversion I hear are on the chorus backing vocals, the "little middle" bit. There are some other minor differences that seem to jump out, where the banjo seems like it is one half-beat "out of phase" especially during the little walk-up bits at the end of Coulton's repeating banjo phrase. Was that an edit? Or did they EQ it down slightly in spots? They couldn't MIX it down. They could have done some narrowing of the stereo image, even on a band-by-band basis. Ozone has some tools for this. There is all kinds of tweaking that can be done with plug-ins.

    But I think that is more likely than the hypothesis that they re-recorded any of these instruments. They just sound too similar. But I'm not sure I can _prove_ it with lossy and/or slightly edited files! Maddening!

    What do you guys thing? Anyone want to replicate this experiment?

  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Oh... one more thing. If you do this same cancellation to Glee's track -- the result is very interesting! (for example, don't try to convince me they don't auto-tune the hell out of themselves... and it really sounds to me like the strings are suffering a lot of artifacts from having been taken from a LOSSY (MP3) source and then compressed again. It also might explain why I hear these shifts in volume -- the level of banjo backing is tweaked a lot and pretty low in parts of the mix.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    I'll just leave this here...

    If you download it, please get FLAC or Apple Lossless -- otherwise the compression artifacts will just be crazy after some of the bits have been through 3 rounds of MP3 compression.

    I dare you to listen to that and tell me they didn't use most of Coulton's actual backing track.
  • Caleb January 2013
    No, no. I'm speechless. Wow. Nicely done, Paul. I think this is absolutely convincing.

    With the bass and lead gone (and with my evidence confirming that the bass was re-recorded anyway) it's really obvious.

    This is crazy!
  • Caleb January 2013
    I really need to figure out how to phase cancel in Reaper, but I'm done for today too. Ears are too fatigued.
  • katekate January 2013
    First, I find all of this SO fascinating.

    Second, this is SO AWESOME! Thank you.
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    So if I understand correctly, this track has JoCo karaoke center cancelled on the left ear, and Glee center cancelled on the right ear, so anything that's in both will sound centered? So then what happens if we phase invert one of those tracks, so the parts that are in both cancel out and disappear (i.e. you center-cancel that whole thing)? Has there been too much compression and recompression for it to work, or would the stolen instrumentals basically go silent? That seems like it would make it even more evident.

    Also, what Kate said. :D
  • Caleb January 2013

    I thought of that too, Angelastic. I doubt it would work, because the way things have likely been remastered, but it's possible that something interesting might come of it. I'm not going to try it now, but I'm starting to want to...
  • AngelasticAngelastic January 2013
    It's amusing that they chose to karaoke-center-cancel-leaving-remnants-of-quack the one song from JoCo Looks Back where the source tracks are actually linked form JoCo's website, so they wouldn't even have had to search very hard for them.
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    Angel, you would think that would work, but when we're trying to cancel one lossy compressed file against another, that's been re-compressed -- well, it really doesn't work. You might get a little phasing but the waveforms don't match enough to do much of anything. It makes sense if you kind of think of MP3 as a series of instructions to synthesize something that sounds like the original, instead of actually reproducing the original waveform. So the actual waveforms just don't line up enough any more to cancel.

    OK, guys, one more. On the left, the center-cancelled Glee track (basically an attempt to remove what I think are some of the Glee additions, bass and some of the drums, plus their new lead vocal and some backing vocals.

    On the right, a mix of Coulton's source tracks, banjo, mandolin, guitar, shaker, strings, and tambourine.

    The whole thing is passed through a narrow EQ to focus even more on the instruments.

    The results are _very_ interesting. You can tell that there must be edits in the backing track or at least some careful automation in the EQ. There are some banjo notes that seem to be edited or or something. The Glee track kind of loses the strings for a while here and there but when they come back they are always completely in sync. Listen also to the strings, shaker, and tambourine. It sounds to me like they found one part that had a banjo walk-up that had better timing and they re-used that section. This is hard to explain but maybe you can hear it.

    Now I'm really done for today : )

  • ColleenkyColleenky January 2013
    @Caleb @paulrpotts You two are insane. In the most awesome way possible but insane nonetheless. :-)
  • paulrpotts January 2013
    @Colleenky well, thank you!

    If you are comparing sections, with the walk-up on the banjo, note that the most perfect match comes right after "makes me so horny." I believe this section might have been copied and reused in the lead in to "you get sprung" and "ooh baby, wanna get wit ya," etc. I think that could be possible because in the center-cancelled Coulton karaoke track there are no backing vocals there. That might fix the audible differences in those little walk-ups. It's really off-sync right after "turbo vette." There are some other places where they diverge, including one big one, and I'm not sure just what they did there, but a lot of places where all the tracks just sound spot-on together, at least to me.
  • katekate January 2013
  • Caleb January 2013
    @Colleenky - You of all people should know that JoCo fans aren't your average groupie. :-)

    I kinda just freaked myself out trying a variant of what @Angelastic suggested. I replicated Paul's center-canceled Glee track, then I rendered it (or bounced it) to a separate track so I could see it clearly, and I tried to line up the beginning with JoCo's solo banjo track. The results looked nearly identical and when I inverted the solo banjo track, it went away! After dropping my jaw on the floor, and quadruple-checking my work, I realized that somehow I had accidentally mixed the solo banjo track into the center-canceled Glee track, so I was just cancelling itself out again. Bummer!

    @paulrpotts Re those little walkups: I've noticed on the solo banjo track that some (but not all) of them have little 'pop's just afterwards. I wonder if that explains the editing in that section? I think the walkups happen four times in the verse, and it's the 2nd and 4th times that have the 'pop'.

    This time I'm really done. (yeah right...)

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