Monday, August 16, 2010

Glee songs, for your consideration...

I know there's people out there who hate on Glee. And I can kinda understand it. I started off feeling kinda weird about the whole Glee thing, myself. It was just too geeky to succeed. But thanks to the mystical powers of the World Wide Webiverse, my friends ended up piquing my curiosity. And damn it all, if by the fifth episode I warn't hooked.

But why in the world ever? I mean, aside from the utter BRILLIANCE spewing forth from one Emmy-bound Ms. Jane Lynch, who makes Sue Sylvester one of the most hilarious curmudgeons ever seen on TV. Oh, and then there's Brittany, who somehow brings new vistas to the overplayed dumb-blonde stereotype. From a comedic standpoint, the show could rest on the shoulders of these two. But that's not Glee's big raison d'etre, nor is it how it established a name for itself. It's the music.

And so, at the risk of boring my readers with yet another list o' songs that simply must be heard (hey, at least I don't do the "Top 10 Songs To Bludgeon Your Hamster By" stereotypical titles, right? Oh, yeah...guess I do), here we go again. Why's Glee worthy? Here ya go.

To Sir With Love - Originally done by Britpop starlet Lulu, she of the doey eyes and the vibrato that sits just short of Judy Garland's earthquake-rendering tremolo. Lulu did make a charming run of it, and consequently the song hit #1 way back in the early 1970s. Glee does Lulu two better. First, it's great to hear the song sung with very little vibrato, but full of emotion. But second (and this is why you really need to watch the show), the glee club basically sings its gratitude to Mr. Schuester, the director, through this song. It's poignant in the most amazing way...just ask Sue Sylvester, who was actually brought to tears when she accidentally stepped in the auditorium during the glee club's tribute. Sue Sylvester. Tears. No, I'm not kidding. (And if my description falls kinda flat, that's because I'm sidestepping a spoiler. In other words, you really, REALLY need to watch the show. Last episode of the first season, specifically.)

Don't Stop Believin' - Who'da thunk that Journey, of all groups, would have lent one of their songs to a show with as daring a conceit as Glee? Let alone make it the linchpin for the pilot episode? But there it is, a song about lost souls in the guise of barflies and prostitutes, being sung by a high school glee club. Over the course of three minutes, this song made believers of anyone who watched that pilot. Then it formed the basis for New Directions' entry in regionals. (For fun, stand up and say "New Directions" as loudly and as quickly as you can when you find yourself in your next cubicle jungle.)

Don't Rain On My Parade - Look here. I am NOT a fan of Barbra's. I just don't get her. And I saw the original version of this song on Funny Girl. (Would it have killed her to break a smile while she was singing?) But OH MY GOD. Strap me in a chair and force me to listen to Rachel's version during their sectional performance, and man, I'll be a happy kid. Hell, I'll be busting out of the straps so I can vamp and lip sync along with her. Another one where you really need to watch Rachel's performance.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Well, this one could cut either way. You may love it, you may hate it, but you won't forget it - at least in this context. I'd never heard the song before Glee, and my first exposure to it was Kurt Hummel, in a unitard, performing Beyonce's breathless tartlet on video before his dad unexpectedly showed up and caught him. (A very straight-acting, blue collar, seemingly homophobic dad, too.) Somehow, Kurt managed to, uh...let's let Kurt explain it. "My name is Kurt Hummel, and I'm auditioning for the role of kicker." On the football team. And with his Beyonce routine, he not only landed the "role," but managed to get the whole football team to dance to this song during the last play of The Big Game. Cheesy beyond belief. (Oh, and about that homophobic dad? Not so. Kurt comes out to his dad during this episode, and he is waaaay beyond cool about it.)

Alone - Raise your hand if you actually loved Heart back in the mid '80s. That's it. Don't be shy. You're not alone. I was there too. Now give this one a listen. Will Schuester, the director, joins forces with April Rhodes (the astounding Kristin Chenoweth) in an impromptu karaoke performance at the local bowling alley. Actually sent chills up my spine the first time I heard it.

Proud Mary - Now, I can't go through this list without paying my props to Mercedes, the requisite black diva with all the high notes and all the sass. She does a respectful slow duet with Artie on the first part, a la CCR. Then she blasts away everyone around her with a blistering version that would do Ike and Tina proud. Mercedes is given WAY too little screen and stage time, suffering the role of bridesmaid to Rachel. So moments like these are particularly welcome.

And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going - Yeah. What I said just now. Only ten times more. More Mercedes, please.

My Life Would Suck Without You - Me, actually liking a Kelly Clarkson song? Good God, the end is truly nigh! But New Directions sold it to me and I swallowed it whole and asked for more. I can't resist a song that goes "I know that I've got issues/But you're pretty messed up too." Hurray for dysfunctional people in warped relationships that stick together just because of love!

Vogue - The video. But only if you're a Madonna fan. A fine homage to one of the most iconic music videos of all time, with some amusing, subtle twists.

Sure, there are plenty of songs that are merely okay, and if I were to blog about the worst songs on Glee, that post might be three times as long. And ten times as boring. So there ya go. Enjoy. (And I swear my next post will not be a bunch of bullet points about music.)


Panda!!!! said...

I am a lukewarm Glee fan, but I loved their versinos of "To Sir With Love" and "Alone" (Admittedly, I love everything K.Chen does.).

My favorite song, however, was "Bust Your Windows," partly because it's an underrated song in its own right, mostly because the cheerleaders vamped it up just right.

And yes, how do I LOVE Brittany so much?

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