Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
Before Glee begins its parade of guest stars and themed episodes that will lead us into the half-season break, it takes a breather to give us a pretty standard episode in “Never Been Kissed.” In a year full of novelty shows, an episode where nothing too out-of-the-ordinary happens almost feels like a stunt itself. Alas, no crazy casting pops up to distract from the major drama that populates this week’s installment. Instead, we focus on another round of boys vs. girls mash-ups (a callback to last year’s “Vitamin D” competition) as the Glee gang deals with a lot of sexual tension or, more accurately, tension that results from one character’s sexual orientation.
Though I’ll leave the plot intricacies of “Never Been Kissed” to other websites, I will say that generally I’ve enjoyed Glee‘s mash-ups. Last season gave us a couple great ones: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me/Young Girl” (The Police/Gary Puckett), “Borderline/Open Your Heart” (both Madonna), and possibly my favorite piece of music from the show, “It’s My Life/Confessions” (Bon Jovi/Usher). Mash-ups give the Glee band a rare chance to create a new piece of music, usually to great effect. Interestingly enough, “Never Been Kissed” features a second Bon Jovi mash-up. I knew that going into the episode, and it gave me high hopes for this week’s music. Let’s dive in!
1. One Love/People Get Ready (Bob Marley/Curtis Mayfield)
Puck (Mark Salling) and Artie (Kevin McHale) jam out this 1977 tune in their school’s courtyard to make a little cash. In doing so, Glee pays a little homage to its mash-up roots. Marley and his band the Wailers had previously recorded “One Love” in 1965 but later released a version which included bits and pieces of the Curtis Mayfield song “People Get Ready.” Thus, instead of presenting their own mash-up, for the first song of the night Glee just covers an existing one. Glee cast version / original version
2. Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)
Cover Me’s seen a lot of “Teenage Dream” this year. At least Glee does something interesting with the arrangement by turning it into an a cappella number, courtesy of our heroes’ rival choir over at the all-boy Dalton Academy. I really liked this version of the song; Glee definitely earns points for experimenting with the arrangement of a mega-popular song. Original version
3. Start Me Up/Living on a Prayer (The Rolling Stones/Bon Jovi)
Ugh. The girls’ song shows us that Glee‘s lost its talent for Bon Jovi mash-ups. See for yourself: these two songs just don’t go together. A Glee cast version of “Living on a Prayer” could have been tremendous; instead, the show ruins it by tacking on random phrases from a Stones song. Also, Glee’s squandering a number of Jovi songs on these collaborations… how about giving the Jersey boys a number all to themselves? Glee cast version / “Start Me Up” / “Living on a Prayer”
4. Stop! In the Name of Love/Free Your Mind (The Supremes/En Vogue)
Glee makes up for that last song with this inspired mash-up from the boys, though. They combine the classic 1965 Motown single with En Vogue’s alternative/R&B hit and manage to incorporate the best elements of each song’s sound into a tight package. They also put a nice cap on the episode’s themes and pull off some pretty wicked choreography. This has been one of my favorite performances from the season so far, and a great example of what Glee can do when it flexes its musical creativity. “Stop! In the Name of Love”/ “Free Your Mind”
Tune in next week for another set of all-new Glee covers.