Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 FAVORITES (29) - GLEE: Musical Moments

It is one of the most popular TV shows in the past year.  It has dominated ratings, award shows AND even the music charts!  Of course, I am referring to the FOX musical smash hit comedy series Glee.  The show first made its high-profile appearance after an American Idol finale back in May 2009.  Over that summer, the series became the most anticipated show of the 2009-10 Fall Season.  It has created a fan-base (known as Gleeks!) that rivals that of Trekkies or Potter-heads.  The show has since garnered several chart-topping hits on iTunes (the cast has proven themselves over and over that they are very adept at covers!) and won several Emmy Awards (including one for standout "villain" - Jane Lynch).  The show, now very close to finishing its second season, was also honored as the Golden Globes' Best Series-Musical or Comedy two years in a row.  We are now less than a week away from the next new episode (the last new episode aired on FOX on Tuesday, March 22), and so I find it fitting to name off my 10 FAVORITE musical moments from this breakout phenomenon.  So, here are:


NOTE ON THE VIDEOS: No copyright infringement is intended by the use of the videos.  Glee is owned by the FOX Broadcasting Company.  And most of these videos can be found on YouTube.

Empire State of Mind
Episode: Audition, Season 2
Original Artist: Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
When the second season began, the Glee club needed to recruit new members.  And to do it, they decided to perform for the school at lunch Jay-Z's anthem/ode to the City that Never Sleeps.  Even though I'm not a fan when the cast raps, Artie (Kevin McHale), Finn (Cory Monteith) and Puck (Mark Salling) do Jay-Z proud; but the song really takes off when the ladies (including the Mercedes of Amber Riley and Lea Michele's indomitable Rachel) add their lush harmonies to Alicia Keys' poetic refrain.

Push It
Episode: Showmance, Season 1
Original Artist: Salt-N-Pepa
If you were not sure Glee was a comedy series, then this musical performance (along with the reactions of Matt Morrison's Will Schuester and Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester) should make you a believer.  It is clear the writers knew exactly what they were doing!

Time Warp
Episode: The Rocky Horror Glee Show, Season 2
Original Artist: The Cast of The Rocky Horror Show
For their Halloween episode this season, the cast went all out and performed numbers from the cult musical The Rocky Horror Show.  And what kind of musical would it be if it did not have a smash-bang finale (using the most popular and requested song from the original show!).

Like a Prayer
Episode: The Power of Madonna, Season 1
Original Artist: Madonna
In their go-for-broke tribute episode to the Material Girl, the Glee creators delivered one of their best episodes both musically and plot-wise.  But it was the powerful and poignant finale (Madonna's religious and controversial hit) was the moment that had Gleeks dancing the night away.  Below, the cast performs the number at their very successful live concert.

Thriller AND Heads Will Roll
Episode: The Sue Sylvester Shuffle, Season 2
Original Artists: Michael Jackson AND The Yeah Yeahs
When Glee was announced as the show that would follow this year's Super Bowl, everyone knew that the show had to deliver something spectacular.  Their Christmas episode (the episode before it) was not universally well-received, so many critics had their doubts whether Ryan Murphy and company could pull it off.  But the New Directions not only delivered, but gave us a message about worlds colliding and making the best of things as the show's football half-time number displayed.

The Journey Medley (Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, Lovin' Touchin' and Squeezin' AND Don't Stop Believin')
Episode: Journey, Season 1
Original Artist: Journey
At their first Regionals performance, the New Directions relied on the band that inspired Mr. Schuester to keep the glee club going.  Their medley was one of the most exciting moments of season one (and shattered our hearts when they failed to win the top prize!).  Below, is the cast performing part of the medley at their sold out Glee Live! concerts in 2010.  To see the medley in context, click here.

Get It Right AND Loser Like Me
Episode: Original Song, Season 2
Original Artist: The Cast of Glee
For their second trip to Regionals, Mr. Schuester agreed that the New Directions needed to do something daring.  They needed to do their OWN original songs!  With Rachel belting out her poignant ballad followed by the group's catchy production number, the most recent new episode entertained audiences to no end and made Gleeks everywhere salivate for the next new episode.

Somebody to Love
Episode: The Rhodes Not Taken, Season 1
Original Artist: Queen
The Queen power ballad has been covered by almost everyone, but the New Directions showed their strength and took on Freddie Mercury's unmistakable (and almost intimidating) lead vocals.  The song became the cast's second signature number.

Don't Stop Believin'
Episode: Pilot, Season 1
Original Artist: Journey
This was the moment where you knew the show could be something special.  It also is the moment in the show where not only Mr. Schuester thinks that the glee club will survive, but arch-nemesis Sue Sylvester discovers that the club could pose a threat to her and her Cheerios.  The song has become so identified with the show and is clearly the cast's signature number (as the cast recently performed the song on the British hit series The X-Factor).

Don't Rain On My Parade AND You Can't Always Get What You Want
Episode: Sectionals, Season 1
Original Artists: Barbra Streisand AND The Rolling Stones
If "Don't Stop Believin'" was the moment where you knew the show was special and "Somebody to Love" was the moment you felt the show could last longer than a year, then it was this, the New Directions' Sectionals performance, where you knew that the show was great.  First of all, the cleverness to follow a Streisand number with a Stones song is not only exciting but extremely aware of the wide range of the audience.  Then, there are the performances of the New Directions themselves.  Their energy is so infectious and Lea Michele's powerhouse rendition of "Parade" was so phenomenal that it garnered her a well-deserved Emmy nomination.  Like their Original Song Medley later in Season 2, this is the format (Lea Michele ballad followed by high-energy group number) that works best for the show.

NOTE ON THE VIDEOS: No copyright infringement is intended by the use of the videos.  Glee is owned by the FOX Broadcasting Company.  And most of these videos can be found on YouTube.

When Glee returns on Tuesday, April 19, we shall see if the show can match some of their best moments as they head to their season finale: the Nationals competition in New York City.  Next week, in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, I will discuss the Bible and its impact on film, television and pop culture.  Good Times!

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