On Monday, Channel 10 will start screening the rest of Season 2 Glee. Having peaked into my crystal ball, I know there are some pretty amazing showstoppers coming up, including Tina and Mercedes doing a fab take on Dog Days Are Over and a very sexy Kurt and Blaine duet on the classic Baby It’s Cold Outside. So, what better time than now to run through the musical highlights of Glee to date!
( Note – in a perfect world, Lea Michele and Idina Menzel’s absolutely gorgeous stripped back piano rendition of Poker Face would be nestled in the top ten somewhere, but there appears to be no high-quality clips of it on youtube anywhere *sadface* )
10 – Don’t Rain On My Parade
On Glee, Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry gets a lot of grief for being a spotlight hog. Thankfully, she also gets to perform numbers like this, a determined and energetic take on the classic Striesand number. In three short spine-tingling minutes, it’s clear that a new musical powerhouse has well and truly been born.
09 – Bohemian Rhapsody
For the dramatic momentum of Season One to work, McKinley High needed a worthy adversary to provide a real threat to winning Regionals. Never more so that on this, the final number from eventual champions Vocal Adrenaline, was it clear that our favourite Glee Club had ways to go. Led by an emotionally raw performance by Broadway Star (and real life Lea Michele BFF) Jonathon Groff, this six minute number was the most ambitious performance Glee had attempted to date. The juxtaposition of Quinn giving birth against some incredibly symbolic dance routines (like when the baby is crowning at the same time Jesse bursts forth from an tightly knit circle of dancers) was breathtakingly visceral staging at it’s best.
08 – Vogue
Gleeks had to wait over half a season to see arch-villain Sue Sylvester finally belt out a number. And approximately zero of them could have anticipated that her debut number would end up being an insanely funny shot for shot recreation of the Madonna dance classic Vogue. Jane Lynch proved to be as adeptly game physical performer as she was verbally acerbic, gyrating in the iconic conical bra and slyly spitting out hilariously lyrical changes like ‘Will Schuester, I hate you!’
07 – Roses Turn
Sometimes, all you have to do to make a dream come true is to ask for it. At least, that’s the case when your boss in Ryan Murphy. Recent Golden Globe winner Chris Colfer casually mentioned one day on set that his dream number to perform would be this showstopper from the musical Gypsy and, less than three weeks later, it turned up in the script. Colfer rose to the challenge and brought a real anger, hurt and swagger to the number, forever breaking out of the somewhat camp balladeering rut that Kurt had been stuck in to that point.
06 – Halo / Walking On Sunshine
The first of what would become many mash-ups that would become Glee’s musical signature. In the episode, the war between the boys and the girls may have been declared a draw but, in the real world, the girls were the clear winner. A psuedoephedrine-fuelled extraveganza that proved as to be hilarious as it was insanely catchy, it became that sometimes two really wrong songs could indeed make a right.
05 – Forget You
Gwyneth on Glee should have been an awful idea, benched somewhere between a piece of lazy stunt-casting and a desperate attempt for a career revival. But instead, Paltrow was nothing short of magical on her one episode stint late last year giving a funny and free-wheelingly charming performance as a substitute teacher. Never was this more evident than in her rousing, authorative take on Cee-Lo’s sweary smash hit. Her nicely soulful voice worked perfectly, but it was her fierce, energetic dance moves that suggested that, in another universe, she could be the second coming of Beyonce.
04 – One Less Bell To Answer / A House Is Not A Home
After somewhat squandering guest star Chenoweth’s famous singing pipes in favour of her delightfully ‘ditzy lush’ schtick when she first appeared early in season one, Ryan Murphy made up for it in spades with this epic mash-up, first made famous by Barbara Striesand. Stretching to almost five whole minutes of screen time, it remains one of the longest uninterrupted numbers Glee has attempted to date. Chenoweth’s April and Mister Schuester share heartbreaking harmonies as their painfully lonely characters slowly dance around an empty house. Rarely in Glee have two powerhouse vocalists been matched so evenly by such suberb acting.
03 – Bad Romance
Some artists have back catalogues that just seem to fit Glee like a glove. None more so than Lady Gaga who, as evidenced with both this and the lovely deconstructed take on Poker Face, has all the drama and, indeed, fierce theatricality inherent to Glee. Watching the ladies of the club (plus Kurt, obvs) rock the runway with the homemade costumes was as visually impressive as the show has been to date. Bonus points for highlighting the vocals of the whole group whilst staying true to the dark, desperate and intense heart of the song.
02 – Don’t Stop Believing
The song that started it all. Who would have thought that a motley group of six teenage misfits in garish cheap red tee shirts would change the face of the modern music forever. Not only was this stirring take on the 1981 Journey hit a complete standout in the pilot episode, but it served as a calling card for the show from Day One. Suddenly, show choir wasn’t a dirty word anymore..
01 – Teenage Dream
It feels strange to have any Glee list without Don’t Stop Believing at Number One. But here we are and here it isn’t. When the preview clip of Teenage Dream leaked at the end of last year, the sound of gay jaws simultaneously hitting the floor could be heard round the world. Bursting from obscurity, Darren Criss’s earnestly sexy performance forever redefined sheer charisma and thus a star was born. With his matinee idol good looks and aching sincerity, he sold the bejesus out of one of the most adventurous arrangements of a song that Glee had attempted to date. This gender reversed take on the Katy Perry classic rode it’s stunning acapella arrangement all the way to the top of the download charts and became the most successful Glee track since Don’t Stop Believing. Perfect.