Friday, January 7, 2011

Heavy Rotation: Glee, The Music: Volume 4

We did a family Kris Kringle and my wishlist contained just one thing: the latest Glee soundtrack . How many other people unwrapped this gift on Christmas Day? More than a few, I'm willing to bet!

For the record, I actually think this may be my favourite so far of the Glee soundtracks. I think it's because of all of the soundtracks, it's the only album (so far) whose songs are mostly from the past eighteen months (eight songs are from the 2009 or 2010), and thirteen of the eighteen tracks are from the past ten years (aaaaannd now I feel old). I think it's also because I just love hearing current chart hits being performed by a show choir. It gives the songs a fresh, different feel, and watching the cast groove along during the episodes with supposedly spontaneous choreographed routines makes me happy (and as I've stated previously, that's the main reason I watch Glee - for the fluffy escapism).

The rest of this entry is going behind a cut, because the final two songs on the album are spoilers for the sectionals numbers New Directions performs in the next episode Channel 10 will air (at some point in the future, I assume....We're now TWO episodes behind the States, so thanks a lot network ten).

So, if you don't want to know what's performed at sectionals, DON'T read the rest of this entry. For those of you who don't care if you're spoiled (or you've already watched the episode online), read on.......

Anyhoo, onto the music!

Track number one, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind is one of my favourite tracks from the season. I loved that they got the cast out of the choir room and into the schoolyard, and for a bunch white kids, they don't do too bad a job of it. Yes, Finn (Cory Monteith) is possibly the worst rapper ever, but props to him for trying. My only complaint is that Mercedes (Amber Riley) should have taken the lead on all the female parts. There are some songs Rachel Berry just doesn't need to lead on, and while Lea Michele does a fine enough job, it's time to give some other Glee clubbers the limelight.

Three Britney Spears tracks made it onto the album: Me Against The Music (which you should watch again for Brittany / Heather Morris' dancing alone), Stronger and Toxic. I absolutely adore the arrangement for Toxic, and the choreography was fantastic - simple, but effective.

Another of my favourite tracks is Rachel's cover of the Paramore hit The Only Exception. I remember watching the scene from the episode and thinking Lea Michele really knocked it out of the park - it was so raw and emotional and she didn't include too many vocal gymnastics into it. She just got up, sang, emoted and was done. The cutaways to the other kids and Mr Schuester were also nicely done - they didn't linger too long on any one character; rather is was just a few sweeping shots of each of them reacting to the song. Sometimes that's all the audience (and the show) really needs. But the shot of poor Mr Schue watching Emma and Uncle Jesse getting into his sportscar while he lingered in the background in a dorky checkered shirt next to the bomb he drives was equal parts amusing and sad. I wanted to giggle but I was just felt SO BAD for him. Poor Mr Schue. Although he can be kind of ass sometimes. Anyway, tangent!

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think I like the arrangement of Kurt's solo, I Want to Hold Your Hand. In the episode it fitted nicely, but I don't fuck with The Beatles, okay? I may be biased, since that's one of my all-time favourite Beatles songs, and while I fully acknowledge that Chris Colfer has a wonderful voice, listening to it on the album without the accompanying visual of Kurt and his dad in a home movie/memory montage just makes it seems a bit...not right. Also, I played it while I had my Dad in my car the other day (who is proud to have gone to see The Beatles when they visited Melbourne in June, 1964 and "nearly got trampled by a police horse" outside The Southern Cross Hotel) and he did not approve. I know this because I asked him if he recognised the song and he said yes, then wrinkled his nose and shook his head without saying anything further. That is a definite NO, people.

Moving on, they have included the Joan Osborne (boy, was she a one-hit wonder) hit One of Us, which will always have a place in my heart because my friends and I heard it during the Summer of 1995/1996 every time we went to the local pool, dared each other to jump off the three metre diving board, practised our handstands and ate sausage rolls and Golden Gaytimes (go on, laugh. I know you want to). I think I still may even know all the lyrics. However, I think the album could have succeeded without it, and in its place perhaps Puck's Billy Joel cover (just because I'm a sucker for Billy Joel) or a little Simon & Garfunkel (can you tell I enjoy listening to golden oldies? I think I'm turning into my father), but since the Glee producers never called to ask for my input, One of Us remains.

Oh, remember how I said that if they didn't include River Deep, Mountain High on the next soundtrack I would cut a bitch? They included it. No bitches will get cut. Yay! Also, can the show producers stop underusing Mercedes? She kicks some serious ass. Those dudes need to get on that. Oh, also, my dad approves of this version. When it came on in the car he started singing along under his breath, a beat or two behind the song. That's his unofficial stamp of approval, people!

The Katy Perry a capella version of Teenage Dream has been included, thank goodness. I could listen to a capella music all day long. In fact, I recently found out that Ben Folds traveled around the USA and got college a capella groups to perform covers of his songs - how cool is that? I must remember to listen to a few tracks on iTunes to see if it's worth buying. But I digress. This Teenage Dream version is addictive, even if you aren't a Katy Perry fan and you'll find yourself humming along in no time. You may also find yourself shouting the "YEAAAAAAHHH" bit of the song in the car as well, but since no one is around to hear you, don't worry too much if you can't hit the right key. You still get points for effort.

Gwyneth Paltrow's cover of Cee-Lo Green's Fuck You is on there, and it's okay. Fun to bop along to, but that's about it.

It's the song that follows on from Gwyneth that is my favourite track on the whole album. You know that Bruno Mars song, Just The Way You Are (which Glee also covers and is included on the album)? It's not really a song I could say I liked. The radio stations here play it ad nauseum, so to say I'm kind of over it would be a massive understatement. BUT. There is another Bruno Mars song I had never heard that has also been included on this album - Marry You. People, I adore this song. ADORE IT. It's fun, flirty, silly and complete crack. I cannot get enough of it. Seriously. Can. Not. Get. Enough.

Okay, if you really, really don't want to be spoiled for the sectionals songs, stop reading now!

The final two tracks are, as I've mentioned, the songs performed at the sectionals competition. Now, I haven't seen the episode, and I've only read a little bit about it, so my opinions here are based purely on listening to the tracks on the CD.

The first one is Valerie, the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse (or The Zutons) song. I love the Ronson/Winehouse version, and I think the Glee version is just as good. They've kept the funky soul feel and haven't tried to rearrange the melody too much. It's performed by Santana (Naya Rivera) and I think she does a kick-ass job. Her voice is perfect for that kind of song, and I'm glad they've been using her vocal talents this season for something other than bitching Rachel out.

The final track is (I've Had) The Time of My Life, from Dirty Dancing. It's sung mostly by newbie Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron). From what I understand, there is some storyline in the episode about Rachel getting all the solos, so they decide to NOT give her any solos for sectionals. Fair enough, because she has sung a lot of the solos this season. But I really, really don't think Dianna Agron has a strong enough voice for this song and it's really evident listening to it. She just can't carry a tune that powerfully, and while this song isn't a huge power ballad, it definitely has a lot of oomph. I think it would have been better sung by Mercedes or Rachel, because lets face it, of all the females in the glee club, those two are the biggest wailers. But it's obvious the producers want us all to love Sam and Quinn as a couple and so they've been paired up for the grand finale. I'm NOT BUYING IT, PRODUCERS. Give me Quinn and Puck any day!

*Side note: I love the part in Dirty Dancing when Lorelai Gilmore Senior emphatically tells Lennie Briscoe to sit down when he starts to stand up to tell Baby to cut that shit out during the big dance scene.

But final number aside, the soundtrack totally rocks my socks off, so I highly recommend you start rocking out to is ASAP.

And that about rounds up my review. Enjoy, people! Pin It


Emma @CakeMistress said...

I totally agree, they tragically underuse Mercedes in the show. The Glee soundtrack is my favourite one for blasting on bleak train rides. Nothing like cranking Proud Mary on repeat!

Julia R said...

Emma, I totally agree - Proud Mary is one of my favourites!

Hannah said...

Sadly, I don't own a single Glee soundtrack! I'd definitely consider one that has the Baby It's Cold Outside rendition on it. That gave me goosebumps :)

Courtney said...

Julia, I own the Ben Folds acapella album and as a huge Ben Folds fan (I've been to 7 (maybe 8) shows and have tickets to one this month) I don't think it's very good. I wouldn't spend money on it. In fact, I have deleted it out of my iTunes so it doesn't play on shuffle. I love acapella (so excited that Street Corner Symphony is opening for Ben, do you guys get The Sing Off?) but the arrangements of Ben's songs just weren't good or necessarily well performed.

Natalie said...

I got this sountrack for Christmas too - Marry Me is now one of my favourite songs. I love it, it's so happy. I do prefer the bruno Mars version but Glee does it well.

Julia R said...

Hannah, you have to get your hands on the soundtracks - they're so addictive!

Courtney, that's good to know. I had heard one of the tracks on the radio, but since I'm not familiar with some of his music I'll think twice before purchasing the album.

Natalie, I think I'm just a bit over Bruno Mars after hearing him day in day out on the radio, which is why I prefer the Glee version!

Sophia said...

I think that it's also great because we don't hear Rachel on EVERY track! Versatility! x

Julia R said...

Sophia, I know! It's good to hear some of the other people singing. I just wish Mercedes wasn't so underused this season!