Monday, June 7, 2010

Heavy Rotation: Glee, Glee and more Glee

I love Glee. Love love love it. It's fluffy, fun escapism and I can't get enough of it. So, now that they've
released more soundtracks, I got my hands on
Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (Deluxe) andGlee: The Music, The Power of Madonna and they've been rotating in my car for the past week.

Let's start with Volume 3:

I've been listening to the deluxe version, which has a few extra tracks and compared to the

This episode (obviously) features music only by Madonna, and the show did this perfectly. There was no tinkering or rearranging of the music - the songs were performed almost exactly as the pop diva did, and the EP of songs from the episode includes seven of the ten songs that were performed in the episode (the only ones not included are Ray of Light, Frozen and Justify My Love).

There's a great mash-up of Borderline / Open Your Heart to Me sung by Rachel and Finn, and a lovely version of What It Feels Like For A Girl, performed by the male members of New Directions, as well as some fun and funky performances of Express Yourself and Like A Virgin by various cast members. Incidentally, Like a Virgin is the first time we hear
Santana's solo vocals, and actress Naya Rivera proves herself quite nicely. There's a cute paraody of Madonna's famous Vogue music video, performed by Sue Silvester and the final track is an uplifting gospel choir-accompanied version of Like a Prayer that the whole cast is a part of.

The stand out track for me, though, is Kurt and Mercedes performing 4 Minutes, the Madonna / Justin Timberlake duet. In the context of the show, it was performed with the Cheerios cheerleaders, complete with a full marching band and thankfully they've carried that across to the soundtrack without alteration. There's something about a bunch of trumpets, cymbals and big-ass drums that makes this Madonna track sound amazing. Kurt and Mercedes are another well-matched pairing (although I think Amber Riley can make anyone sound good) and the number is get-off-your-butt-and-dance crazy fantastic! It's definitely my favourite track (with What It Feels LIike For A Girl coming in a close second).

You HAVE to buy these albums - seriously people, the music is wonderful, and the performers are kicking some serious musical ass.
first two soundtracks, volume 3 has mixed it up with a bunch of great broadway tracks, as well as the usual commercial hits. One of the great things about the second half of Glee and season 1 is that the writers have started developing characters besides Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson. This means that we've been getting some great solos from the rest of the cast.

Favourites of mine include The Safety Dance sung by Artie (Kevin McHale) and Lady is a Tramp sung by Mark Salling and Amber Riley (Puck and Mercedes - who work surprisingly well together in a duet). There are a few stand out ensemble pieces, including Lady Gaga's Bad Romance and The Beatles' Hello, Goodbye. There are some great guest performers, including Neil Patrick Harris, who duets with Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) in a vocal battle to the death with Aerosmith's Dream On, and Olive Newton John, who updates her hit song Physical with the morally corrupt cheerleader coach Sue Silverster. Kristin Chenoweth also returns with a couple of performances, notably the One Less Bell to Answer / A House is Not a Home Burt Baccarach duet she sings with Mr Schuester.

But. BUT. The real stand out performer on this soundtrack is Chris Colfer, who plays
Kurt Hummel in the show and has really been knocking it out of the park every single week. There have been a lot of Kurt-centric storylines in the second half of the season, as the character battles with his sexuality and his tenuous relationship with his widowed father. Naturally, this focus on Kurt means he's been getting a lot of solos, and there have been some fantastic numbers that have been included on volume 3. My absolute favourite is Rose's Turn (from the play Gypsy), which is a highly emotional number full of angst, frustration and fury, all powerfully conveyed through Colfer's incredible voice.
Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (Deluxe) is another fantastic compilation of songs from the TV series, but it does beg the question - the season's not over, so what about the rest of the songs? I smell a volume 4 being released sometime soon. This CD is a lot of fun, but it also has a lot more emphasis on the emotional journey the characters are going through. It's a great addition to your iTunes library!

One of the best episodes from a strictly musical point of view has been the
The Power of Madonna.

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