Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
In “Prom Queen,” McKinley High throws its annual gala dance, and many of our favorite characters vie for coronation. Meanwhile, a last-minute cancellation by Air Supply leaves the dance bandless until New Directions steps in to provide an enchanted evening of vocal bliss.
Well, guys, the second season of Glee is coming to an end. After this week’s episode we only have two left to go, and if the early reports regarding the season finale are true, there’s no need for me to write up that one. I’m happy to say that, as a television show, I’ve thought the last few episodes of Glee have really begun to coalesce into a satisfying conclusion for its many season-long arcs. I think lots of fans would agree that the second season has for the most part been much less compelling than the first, though it seems Glee’s found its footing again when it comes to plot progression and character development.
I don’t have too many general comments about the musical make-up of this week’s episode. “Prom Queen” contains a mixture of “it had to happen eventually” songs (Adele, Rebecca Black) and “what is this?” songs (Christina Perri, Black Kids). Like last week’s “Rumours,” I thought a couple of the songs were straight-up excellent, but unlike last week’s episode, I found a few to be totally lacking — perhaps no surprise when you include “Friday” on your show.
Rolling in the Deep (Adele cover)
It’s so rare for Glee to take chances on a song musically, especially one as omnipresent as this Adele tune (and lest we forget, the show featured Adele three weeks ago as a “neglected performer”). Yet here the song is recast completely as an a cappella number. Rachel (Lea Michele) and the newly-returned Jesse (Jonathan Groff) pair off on the melody, while a bevy of background singers give the song its heavy, propulsive rhythm using only their voices. What an inventive thing for Glee to do, no? I think it pays off immensely, turning one of the year’s most popular songs into a surprisingly creative, powerful number.
BONUS: A quick search of our archives reveals a lot of covers for this one. Here’s a particularly energetic take from North Carolina quartet Delta Rae.
Isn’t She Lovely? (Stevie Wonder cover)
And here’s some more clever instrumentation! Channeling last week’s amazing “Never Going Back Again,” Artie (Kevin McHale) once again takes lead vocals, and once again he’s backed up by a couple acoustic guitars. However, this time some homemade percussion joins in, as you can see in the clip below. It’s a sweet and clever performance, and McHale’s voice fits it perfectly. So far, two for two!
BONUS: Scrubs fans could never forget Clay Aiken’s performance of the song on the brilliant “My Life in Four Cameras” episode.
Friday (Rebecca Black cover)
And then they did this song, which is all that needs to be said about that.
Jar of Hearts (Christina Perri cover)
I had never heard of singer/songwriter Christina Perri, or this song, before last night’s Glee. Apparently “Jar of Hearts” was featured on a 2010 episode of So You Think You Can Dance, after which it charted for a bit in the U.S. “Prom Queen” gives the song to Rachel, which makes it her second number in the episode. Normally I don’t enjoy seeing Michele get overworked, but I like her sensitive take on the track. Is it wrong to say I actually think she sings it better than Perri?
BONUS: How about the male perspective from vocalist Sam Tsui?
I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You (Black Kids cover)
Jacksonville indie band Black Kids may be familiar to college rock aficionados, but probably not to many other people. “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You” was their highest-charting release, peaking at 11 on the U.K. charts but not making much of a splash in America. Glee plays up the dance elements of the song, bringing the gang vocals and synthesized rhythms to the forefront. I like it, and it works in the hands of Blaine (Darren Criss).
BONUS: Kate Nash covered this song acoustic-style. It is pretty cool.
Dancing Queen (ABBA cover)
Here’s another song you would’ve guessed Glee tackled long ago. “Dancing Queen” closes out last night’s episode, though it’s not really used in the same show-stopping capacity as, say, “Don’t Stop.” It’s a fine performance, played fairly straight, but not bad or anything. Check out the classic television montage scene going on in the clip, though.
BONUS: So many artists to choose from here… how about Bono and the boys in U2?
Next week: The kids head to New York City for Nationals, but the club’s hit hard by a death in the family. That doesn’t sound very funny.