‘Better Call Saul’ Karaoke Was More Complicated Than Bob Odenkirk Singing

The latest Better Call Saul Season 6 episode put Bob Odenkirk’s voice on display. As Gene Takovic, Jimmy (Odenkirk) has a new scam where he gets rich guys drunk, drugs them and robs them. The episode features Odenkirk singing karaoke versions of “Brandy” and “Summer Breeze” to endear himself to his targets. But that wasn’t all there was to the show. 

'Better Call Saul': Bob Odenkirk slumps in a chair at a karaoke bar
Bob Odenkirk | Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Music Supervisor Thomas Golubic was a guest on the Better Call Saul Insider podcast on Aug. 2. Golubic discussed the karaoke songs in the episode “Breaking Bad,” which also featured Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). The complications of securing those songs were his responsibility. 

‘Better Call Saul’ needed more than music rights for Bob Odenkirk to sing karaoke

Any time Better Call Saul uses a piece of music, like Mike Nesmith’s “Tapioca Tundra,” Golubic has to clear the rights. When a character sings karaoke, that’s more than just the Looking Glass or Seals and Croft rights. 

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“In the case of both ‘Brandy’ and ‘Summer Breeze,’ those are luckily very iconic songs but we have to chase down karaoke versions of them,” Golubic said on Better Call Saul Insider. “We have to choose the right karaoke version of it. The pacing has to make sense. And that way, the actors are able to prepare ahead of time with the correct version.”

Not all karaoke versions are the same 

If you’ve ever been to a karaoke bar, you know even your favorite song can mess you up. Each karaoke machine may have a slightly different version of the song. So Golubic really has to be sure he got the rights to the version Better Call Saul is going to use. 

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“If it turns out someone has an ownership issue with a Karaoke version, which does happen sometimes, you may have a big problem on your hands,” Golubic said. “Because now you’re not able to utilize that version. The other versions don’t have the same tempo or rhythm. And now you’ve got to figure out how to fix that.”

‘Better Call Saul’ almost lost a song once 

Golubic said he still has PTSD over one rights issue from Better Call Saul Season 1. Jimmy sang ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” in season 1. Golubic almost didn’t get ABBA’s rights. 

This happened to us in a very scary way with ABBA in season 1. We were the weekend before shooting it and ABBA was holding out on their approval. And I have never been as scared on their show as I was that weekend when I had to call [Executive Producer] Diane [Mercer] and say, ‘I have not received the approval.’ She’s like, ‘You realize that they’re rehearsing this, that they’ve been doing this for days.’ And it’s the worst feeling in the world that somehow you may not deliver and time will be wasted, energy, a great idea will die on the vine. It’s weird. A lot of the nerve wracking part of my job is just making sure that the vision of the filmmakers is being fulfilled.

Thomas Golubic, Better Call Saul Insider, 8/2/22

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