Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
In “A Night of Neglect,” the glee club decide to put on a benefit concert to raise money for their trip to Nationals. The theme of the concert: neglected artists! Of course, scheming Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) vows to make sure the show shan’t go on.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Glee’s a comedy. Usually the show drenches itself in melodrama, which can be one of its charms, but the laughs don’t always flow. I warmly welcomed, then, last night’s embracing of the ridiculous. The guest stars really helped in that regard — kudos to the show’s producers for bringing back the characters played by incredibly gifted comic actors Stephen Toblowsky and Cheyenne Jackson. I think Glee gave Jackson more to do in his three scenes tonight than 30 Rock has all season.
It’s also easy to forget what music counts as under-appreciated or neglected, especially writing for this site. I suppose to the rest of the world Lykke Li or Adele might count as an ignored artist, but, if anything, the many wonderful artists written up by Cover Me appreciate Adele too much. Still, I’m always happy to see Glee embrace some less-famous music, especially given the horrifying news that a cover of “Friday” looms on the horizon.
Despite its claim of featuring neglected artists, though, I’d argue that half the tracks on last night’s Glee are actually pretty famous. Aretha Franklin’s a big name (a point even raised by the show’s characters), though “Ain’t No Way” may not be one of her biggest songs. Similarly, though “All By Myself” may in some weird way be under-appreciated, it’s certainly not unknown. Everyone’s heard that song before, right? Ah well…the music has to draw viewers in somehow. At least the performances of the songs were, on the whole, pretty solid. Let’s get to them.
All By Myself (Eric Carmen cover)
Lots of artists have taken a crack at this uber-saccharine 1975 tune by Eric Carmen. For “Night of Neglect” we get treated to a rendition by fan-favorite guest star Charice in the guise of rival glee club student Sunshine Corazone. She can’t do anything to make the song better, and the show’s cover plays it pretty straight, but man, that girl can sing.
BONUS: You probably all know the Celine Dion cover, but have you ever heard Hank Williams Jr.’s version?
I Follow Rivers (Lykke Li cover)
If any artist on tonight’s episode counts as neglected, it’d be Swedish songstress Lykke Li. “I Follow Rivers” comes off her album Wounded Rhymes, which was released but a few months ago. In the show, Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) performs the song to a group of angry hecklers, though as you might imagine the hecklers have been omitted from the song’s official release.
BONUS: Not a cover, exactly, but TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek has a sweet remix of this song.
Turning Tables (Adele cover)
Here’s another song from an album that was released just earlier this year, Adele’s 21. This artist has popped up a lot on Cover Me lately; people seem to be especially drawn to her “Rolling in the Deep.” Glee fortunately opts to go a different route and covers a song that’s not even a single, “Turning Tables.” Again we get to hear this song interpreted by a guest star; this time it’s Gwyneth Paltrow, who continues to make up for her abysmal “Fuck You” performance by singing her heart out. Well done, Gwyneth.
BONUS: Another nice rare Adele cover, Jamie Woon acoustifies “Someone Like You.”
Ain’t No Way (Aretha Franklin cover)
Depending on whether or not you count “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as an Aretha song, this is the second or third time Mercedes (Amber Riley) has performed one of Franklin’s tunes. That might indicate a bit of typecasting, but Riley can certainly handle it; she’s one of the most powerful singers in the show’s regular ensemble, and she really lets loose on this 1968 song.
BONUS: Croatian singer Petra Antolic turns in a powerful piano/vocal rendition of the song.
Up next: A 90-minute episode and more Lady Gaga! You can look forward to “Born This Way” at least. It’ll probably be just like the Madonna episode.
Tune in next Wednesday for another set of all-new Glee covers.
Ned Ryerson, I mean Stephen Toblowsky, is so dang funny in the show. I hope they have more of him. He’s one of the most unique characters I’ve ever seen on televison.
For real. Did you see him on Community last week? He played a professor whose area of expertise was “Who’s the Boss.” That guy is awesome.