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A 2010 Musical Gleeview – My Picks for Glee’s Top Ten Musical Moments from Season 2 (so far)

New Year’s Eve is a time for getting so wasted that you forget your own name reflection.  As 2010 comes to a close, many of us will undoubtedly spend time crying into our tenth glass of champagne    making out with that dude in the corner with the tongue ring  looking back on the past year, and seeing how it “measures up” to previous years.  And I’ll be the first one to admit that all the gut checking and personal evaluation that we tend to do during these last few days of the year .  . . well . . . it kind of sucks. 

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But you know what doesn’t suck . . . evaluating TV shows, instead! 🙂

If you read entertainment magazines at all, or just spend time talking to TV viewers, you probably already know that Glee, while still a ratings darling, in every sense of the word, has, for many, fallen short of the high expectations it created for itself, during its spectacular premiere season.  (That vastly overused term “Sophomore Slump” has even been bandied about.)  And while I agree with a lot of the criticisms that have recently been lodged against the show, I still think that Glee gave us fans a lot to love this year . . .

But I’m going to talk about the musical performances, instead. 😉

What follows are (in no particular order) my picks for the Top Ten Musical Moments from the first half of Glee’s second season:

(1) “One Love” – Puck Puckerman and Artie Abrams (originally sung by Bob Marley)

One of my biggest complaints about the second season of Glee had to do with its CRIMINAL underuse of my FAVORITE character on the show, Mark Salling’s Bad Ass Bully with a Heart of Gold, Puck.  Yes, I do realize that Mark Salling was absent from the show for a few episodes, while he was promoting his own album.  But would it have KILLED the writers to throw the poor guy a bone or two, in the storyline department?  Wasn’t it bad enough they took his girlfriend, Quinn, away, and inexplicably paired her with that Macauley Culkin-look alike?

But I digress.  Puck’s single solo of the season thus far, came in the form of a mellow Bob Marley cover, sung while strumming on an acoustic guitar, during lunchtime, at McKinley High.  At first blush, one would think that Salling’s Puck and Kevin McHale’s Artie would be an odd choice to sing this particular duet.  Yet, Puck’s rebel mystique and crushed velvet voice  complimented Kevin McHale’s Artie’s Elvis Costello-esque geek chic mystique surprisingly well.  See for yourself!

You see?  A little Puck can go a LONG way in making this blogger happy! 🙂

 

(2) “Forget You” – Holly Holiday (originally sung by Cee Lo)

Initially, when I read that (1) the often stodgy-seeming Gwyneth Paltrow would be guest starring on Glee, to promote her star turn in the upcoming music-heavy film, Courtry Strong; and (2) she would be performing a neutered version of Cee Lo’s “F*&k You,” (a song who’s success is largely based on its ingenious pairing of an innocent Motown backbeat with highly explicit lyrics) I was extremely skeptical.  Yet, when the actual episode aired, I was surprised by the inherent likeability and youthful energy Paltrow put into the Holiday character.  And “Forget You,” while admittedly no where near as awesome as the original “F*&k You,” was fun and compulsively watchable in its own unique way.  After all, Cee Lo’s version of the song doesn’t feature Heather Morris’ Brittany doing “The Robot,” in time with the music!

Check it out!

(3) “Sweet Transvestite” – Mercedes Jones (originally sung by Tim Curry)

Speaking of neutered versions of racy songs that surprisingly didn’t suck on Glee . . . many Rocky Horror Picture Show fans were initially up in arms, upon hearing that Glee writers chose a FEMALE to play the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter (a role made famous by actor, Tim Curry, in the original film, thirty-five years earlier) in their incarnation of the cult-classic musical.  And yet, while the bizarre way the show’s writers chose to censor this song boggles my mind (She couldn’t say “transsexual?”  But “transvestite” was OK?), as Mercedes, Amber Riley put a clever twist on the well-loved song, giving it a spunky feminine naughtiness that was entirely her own . . .

(4) “Teenage Dream” – Blaine and the Warblers (originally sung by Katy Perry)

Going along with my “if you want to change the entire meaning of a song, simply change the sex of the singer” theme, I was super impressed by Darren Criss’ Blaine and his Dalton Academy Warbler’s rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” in Glee‘s sixth episode, entitled “Never Been Kissed.”  While the original song is poppy, syrupy sweet, and generally “girlicious,” this Glee version is old-school snappy (something you could picture Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr. singing), thought-provoking, and, yes, VERY, VERY GAY. 

(Then again, that last characteristic may have more to do with the Warblers — in their Harry Potter Gryffindor robes, singing about “skintight jeans,” and dancing like Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air — than with the song itself.)

(5)  “Just the Way You Are” – Finn Hudson (originally sung by Bruno Mars)

In the eighth episode of Glee‘s second season, entitled “Furt,” Kurt’s dad, Burt, and Finn’s mom, Carol, got married amongst the entire cast of Glee and some underpaid extras  family and friends.  During the reception, in a sweet and highly emotional moment, Finn, who, up to this point had always been kind of a homophobe, embraced (both literally and metaphorically) his new homosexual stepbrother, Kurt, by dedicating the above-referenced Bruno Mars song to him.  The result was a poignant and uplifting musical extravaganza that you can witness in its entirety here.

(6) “Me Against the Music” – Brittany S. Pearce and Santana Lopez (originally sung by Britney Spears and Madonna)

In contrast to the previously listed songs on this countdown — most of which were selected for their unique interpretations of popular music — this musical number was selected due to the obvious appreciation that its creators have for the original version.  When it originally aired, the Britney Spears’ themed “Brittany/Britney” episode of Glee was much maligned for its almost complete lack of a cohesive storyline, and its synthetic (and at times just plain weird) Extended Music Video on Acid (or, perhaps more appropriately, Laughing Gas) quality. 

And yet, it was this episode that was responsible for finally displaying to Glee fans the long hidden talents of Heather Morris.  Who knew the daffy and childlike Brittany had such hot moves, or such a sweet, pop song-friendly voice?  The performance (which was part of a dream sequence, shared by both Brittany, herself, and Naya Rivera’s Santana) is an almost frame-by -rame recreation of the original “Me Against the Music” video, performed by Britney Spears and Madonna.  In this incarnation, Brittany gives a surprising amount of grace and class to the role of pop tart, Spears, while Santana expertly embodies the older, more sophisticated, Madonna.

(7)  “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – Kurt Hummel and Blaine  (originally sung by Everybody and Their Mother)

I’m not usually a fan of Christmas music.  But even I have to admit that Chris Colfer’s Kurt and Darren Criss’ Blaine did a bang-up job of breathing fresh new life into a VERY OVERPLAYED holiday anthem.  Not only does the song look and sound different, because it is being sung by two men (as opposed to a male and a female), it also features an oddly ironic and humorous tone, thanks to Colfer’s and Criss’ playful intonations and liberal use of self-aware facial mugging. 

Kurt and Blaine are sweet with one another, and have an obvious romantic chemistry.  And yet, they aren’t taking themselves or the song too seriously, which I, as a Holiday Song Cynic, found extremely refreshing.  Filmed in the living room-like confines of Dalton Academy’ s study lounge (complete with working fireplace and Yulelog), the mood of the performance is as casual and comforting as its two likeable leads.

(8 ) “Stop in the Name of Love / Free Your Mind” Mashup – The Glee Boys (originally sung by The Supremes – “Stop in the Name of Love” and En Vogue “Free Your Mind”)

Glee‘s mashups tend to be either hit or miss with me.  And, lately, I think the show has started to go a bit overboard with its seemingly compulsive need to throw ANY two completely unrelated songs together just because the producers think it might “sound cool.”  But, for me, this particular mashup REALLY WORKED. 

Who would have thought that a 60’s squeaky clean pop tune like “Stop in the Name of Love” would complement En Vogues’ Angry Anthem for Racial and Sexual Tolerance so well?  The fact that the song is performed as a tribute to one of my new favorite Glee characters, Coach Shannon Beiste . . .

. . . and features the typically ripped t-shirt and leater-clad Puck in a POWDER BLUE SUIT, only adds to its charm!

(9) “Telephone” – Rachel Berry and Sunshine Corazon (originally sung by Beyonce and Lady Gaga)

When Fox started promoting Glee’s Second Season, much press was given to the recent addition of Internet sensation and Filipino pop star Charice to the cast.  The actress had her primetime debut in the first episode of the Second Season.  She played Sunshine Corazon, a 9th grade foreign exchange student with an innocent charming demeanor and a powerful singing voice. 

The Sunshine character was featured in not one, but TWO songs during that episode, which was entitled “Audition.”  During those two performances, she quickly proved herself to be everything she was hyped up to be, and then some.  Then, inexplicably, the character TRANSFERRED SCHOOLS!  She hasn’t been seen or heard from since!  Talk about a TEASE!

“You mean to tell me that I flew halfway across the world for under TWENTY MINUTES of screen time?  WTF?”

Fox’s bait-and-switch tactics notwithstanding, Charice’s Sunshine Corazon, along with Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry, starred in what was, in my opinion, one of the most fun and creative musical performances of the first half of the second season.  I strongly suspect that when Beyonce and Lady Gaga wrote and performed the music video for “Telephone” they never envisioned that one of the most popular covers of the song would be filmed in a high school bathroom! 

“Whatchu talkin’ about, Glee?”

In terms of the song, Lea Michele’s voice complements Charice’s perfectly, as if the two were born to sing together.  But the performance actually made this list for two definitively non-musical reasons: (1) the clever way in which Sunshine’s bubbly cuteness is used to highlight Rachel Berry’s b*tchface, and increasingly grating diva dramatics; and (2) the AWESOME ending of the video, where Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester tells the girls to “SHUT UP!”  (You see, while I’m at home, watching Glee on my couch, I tell Rachel Berry to “SHUT UP” at least once, during just about every single episode of Glee!  In that moment, I felt like Sue Sylvester read my mind.)

Either Rachel Berry is really angry at me right now, for making the above comment, or she is just extremely constipated.

In case you are interested in checking out Sunshine Corazon’s also fabulous performance of “Listen” (from the musical Dreamgirls ), which was also featured in this episode, you can find it here.

10) “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” – Kurt Hummel (originally sung by The Beatles)

In an episode entitled “Grilled Cheesus” — which was arguably the most controversial hour in the Glee’s short history — Kurt’s father Burt suffers a heart attack, and falls into a coma.  Burt’s hospitalization calls to the forefront the Glee kids widely varying feelings about God and religion.  Kurt himself just so happens to be an atheist, a fact that deeply troubles some of the more religious characters on the show, who wish to provide him comfort and solace in the only way they know how, through prayer. 

In a Five-Hanky Speech, toward the end of the episode, Kurt explains to his classmates that, while he doesn’t believe in God, he does believe in his father, and the strength of their extremely close relationship.  For him, this worldly relationship surpasses any sort of spiritual one. Kurt then breaks into a sorrowful rendition of The Beatles, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” 

As Kurt sings, the performance is intercut with fond memories Kurt has of his father and his childhood.  During those scenes, Young Kurt is played by a 13-year old actor named Adam Kolkin.  The two actors look so much alike, it’s truly shocking that they are not related.  (Way to GO, Casting Directors!  You get a cookie! :))

The cumulative impact of Kurt’s speech, his musical performance, and those heart-wrenching flashback scenes was something that stayed with me, long after the final credits rolled on this episode.

So, there you have it, my Top Ten Musical Moments from the first half of Glee‘s Second Season.  Did I miss any of your favorites? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Glee, music, Top Ten Lists

It’s a Nice Day for a Blue Tracksuit Dress Wedding! – A Recap of Glee’s “Furt”

Is it just me, or would Sue’s “wedding dress” look fabulous with a pair of those sneakers Steve Martin made for his daughter in that “Father of the Bride” movie?

 

Do you LOVE weddings?  Does the mere sight of taffeta and lace make you go gooey?  Do you weep with joy, every time you receive a calligraphy-adorned envelope in the mail, with your name on it?  If so, this was the Glee episode for YOU!  After all, this week’s installment of Glee offered not one, but TWO weddings!

Despite the episode’s title suggesting otherwise, Kurt and Finn didn’t actually marry one another, during Furt 😦 . . .  

Well . . . actually .  . . one wedding, and one rehearsal.  But still, you’ve got to admit, that’s a whole lot of HOLY NUPTIAL for a single hour of television!

As for those of you who HATE weddings . . . well, at least you got to watch a couple of guys beat the crap out of one another . . .

I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right?

And so, without further adieu, what do you say we strap on those high heels, pick up that bouquet, and get ready for that long slow saunter down the aisle?  (But since it’s a Glee Wedding, that “long slow saunter” will be more like a cheesy skip-hop, performed while waving streamers in the air, to the tune of a Bruno Mars song.)

Wheeeeeeeee!

An Indecent Proposal

“Ohhhh, Indecent!  Sounds kinky!”‘

Question:  What is the LEAST romantic location for a marriage proposal? 

If you answered in a high school classroom that reeks of chalk and body odor, you are clearly not part of the Hummel family!  The episode begins with Kurt’s Super-Adorable-I-Just-Want-To-Pinch-His-Cheeks-Every-Time-He’s-On-Screen Daddy, and Finn’s Ridculously Sweet Mommy invading McKinley High.

 (Is there no security at McKinley High?  So, basically, anybody could just waltz into this school, without so much as a “full body scan” or a groin-groping pat down?)

Principal Sylvester FAIL!

Anyway, Happy Couple, Burt and Carol, arrive at school to share some good news with Kurt and Finn.  Apparently, Burt just proposed to Carol in the SAME SCHOOL CLASSROOM WHERE THEY FIRST MET!  How lame romantic!  As luck would have it, the duo need to be married by the end of the week.  (Did anybody else get a whiff of Shotgun Wedding from this scene?  Because I did!)

Mini Kurt: Coming Soon to a Glee near you?

Since Burt has already spent  his life savings satisfying Kurt’s endless requests for Barbara Streisand tickets and designer hats, the couple wants to “save their money for  the honeymoon,” Burt and Carol cannot afford a wedding planner or a real band.  And, so, they hire the next best things . . .

Wedding Planner Kurt . . .

and . . .

Wedding Band, New Directions.

Upon hearing  that he has been given the opportunity to create the Poor Person’s Version of Wedding of his Childhood Dreams, Kurt becomes so ecstatic, that he stops spitting out little pink purses every time he speaks . . .

 . . . and starts puking veils, rings, and something blue?

Marital Masturbation?

There is a difference between “loving yourself,” and “LOVING YOURSELF,” if you catch my drift  . . .

When we first see Sue, she has just learned that her ex-boyfriend, Smarmy News Anchor, Rod Randall, is going to marry his Prissy-80’s hair wearing co-anchor.  “You are going to die alone,” 80’s Hair sweetly tells Sue.

 

80’s Hair’s comment about the prospect of Sue dying alone clearly impacts the Cheerios’ coach.  And so, our favorite track-suit wearing diva decides to take action . . . by doing something that will ABSOLUTELY ensure that her rival’s prediction will come true.  (Hey, if you can’t beat em,’ join em’ right?).  Sue makes a proposal of marriage to the ONLY person genetically capable of putting up with her unique brand of Crazy.  HERSELF!

Like Burt and Carol before her, Sue seems to be in a major rush to get herself to the altar.  Invitations are hastily drafted, and sent out into the world . . .

One of those invitations goes to Sue’s mother, a woman named Doris, who looks suspiciously like Carol Burnett.

The resemblance is uncanny . . .

Apparently, Doris has been so busy “Nazi” hunting, that she hasn’t had time to do insignificant little things like . . . oh . . .  raising her two daughters.  And so, because this is Glee, Mama Sylvester does what every cast member on this show does, when they want to justify being an MAJOR A**hole to the people around them  . . . she sings about it. 

The only difference is that, rather than sing a cool song, Mama Sylvester sings a lame one entitled  “Ohio,” with Sue chiming in for the two-part harmony. Personally,  I would have preferred something a little snappier like “Mama Mia,” or “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” or “She’s a Bad Mama Jama,” or “Mama Said Knock You Out,” or . . . well . . . any song aside from “Ohio.”  But, hey, you can’t get everything you want in this world, right?

At the “wedding rehearsal,” a very unsupportive Doris says so many AWFUL things about Sue, and her life choices, that Sue actually ends up disinviting her from the wedding!  Now Sue will not only be the bride, groom, and officiant at her own wedding, she will also have to be the MOTHER OF THE BRIDE!  Gee, I wonder who’s going to end up catching the bouquet?  Sue?  Sue?  Or Sue?

This is Sue Sylvester’s world.  The rest of us are just living in it . . .

Well, Bully for YOU!

Sue wasn’t the only cast member coping with a MAJOR A**hole this week.  Kurt barely had time to rejoice over the fact that he was FINALLY, after 16 long years, going to get to be . . .

 . . . when that Mean Ole Bastard, Karofsky, is all up in his grill, and snatching his bride and groom cake toppers right out of his hand, just because he can.

Will, who witnesses the Great Cake Topper Massacre firsthand, accompanies a clearly traumatized Kurt to Principal Sue’s office, where she does a surprisingly good job playing the role of school administrator.

I KNOW!  Crazy, right?

As it turns out, Sue, was also bullied quite a bit, back when she was in high school.  So, she is surprisingly sympathetic to Kurt’s plight.  And yet without proof that Karofsky has committed any actual physical violence to Kurt (beyond just pushing him into a locker and raping his face, with gross slobbery Neanderthal kisses), Sue’s hands are tied.  However, the new principal promises Kurt that the minute Karofsky lays a hand on Kurt, or anyone else at the school, for that matter,, he will be immediately expelled. 

On the way out of the meeting, Kurt callls issue with Sue’s repeated insistence on calling him “lady.”  “That’s bullying too,” Kurt explains matter-of-factly.

“A Bully?  Moi?”

 “As an apology, I’ll allow you to choose from the following nicknames: Gelfling, Porcelain or Tickle-Me-Doughface,” Sue concedes. 

(Yeah, I didn’t know what the f*ck a Gelfling was either.  But, according to Google images, they look like this . . .)

Kurt ultimately decides to go with Porcelain.  Although I, like Sue, would have much preferred “Tickle-Me Doughface.”

Clearly, Tickle Me Elmo agrees .  . .

Behind Every Great Man there’s an Even Greater (and sometimes much more annoying) Woman . . .

Upon hearing about the HORROR that was Great Cake Topper Massacre, Rachel commandeers Quinn, Brittany, and Tina to help Kurt.  “All of us have boyfriends on the football team,” Rachel explains.

Wait . . . Mike Chang is on the football team?  Brittany is ACTUALLY dating Artie?  How did I not know ANY of this?

Rachel’s master plan is for the girls to deny their “boyfriends” sex, until they agree to beat up Karofsky on Kurt’s behalf.  The only problem is that Rachel doesn’t put out.  So, her boyfriend, Finn, sits back and gets his toenails done while, “Rising Star of Popularity” Sam, along with Mike and Artie, do the dirty work, in the coolest, most disturbing, and unintentionally hilarious Boys Locker Room Fight Scene Ever!

Mike (apparently he IS on the football team!) Chang and Artie are up first.  They defend Kurt’s honor, by exchanging constipated facial expressions with Karofsky.  But then Karofsky PUSHES OVER ARTIE’S WHEELCHAIR!

OK .  . . now that’s just friggin EVIL!

So, in steps Alpha Male Macaulay Culkin Sam to SAVE THE DAY, by kicking Karofsky’s closeted ASS!

Oh, don’t worry, Macauley!  Your doppelganger is OK.  He just got a black eye.

And besides, Quinn found out what Sam did for Kurt, and she’s actually wearing his promise ring now . . .

You know what that means, don’t you?  Sam is TOTALLY going to get laid NOW!

EXPULSION!

Burt Hummel is at the school again (see what I mean about the lack of security!), taking wedding dance lessons from Kurt and Terrible Dancer Finn, when Karofsky pops by and “limp wrists” Kurt.  Burt sees this happen, and quickly figures out that Kurt is being bullied by this D-bag.  So, Burt PUSHES KAROFSKY INTO A LOCKER AND THREATENS TO BEAT THE STUFFING OUT OF HIM!

Then, Karofsky’s dad, Doc Arzt from Lost I thought he died in a plane crash! is called to the school to explain his son’s bullying ways.

“The smoke monster made him do it.”

Arzt admits that Karofsky’s been acting out a bit of late.  And when Sue expels the Douche for terrorizing Kurt and BEATING UP ON POOR ARTIE, Arzt seems to accept his son’s fate, at least at first . . .

“Marry YOU!”

Burt and Carol’s nuptials had EVERYTHING a Wedding Fangirl could ask for:  tear-jerking speeches, dancing, glitz and glam – THE WORKS! 

The wedding featured not one .  . . not two . . . but THREE musical numbers!  The first was a dance down the aisle to the Glee kids cover of “Marry You.”  The cover, though admittedly cheesy (I could have done without the bad down-the-aisle YouTube video inspired dancing and the streamers), was pretty awesome! 

Next came Will Schuester’s cover of Michael Buble’s version of that classic pre-sex song, “Sway.”  Although, it wasn’t the best version of the song I’ve seen, how could you not LOVE the image of a Pre-Sex Schuester?

But it was the third song that REALLY put the icing on the Wedding Cake that was this episode.  In it, Finn pays tribute to his new brother, Kurt.  In doing so, he officially forms the new holy union of “Furt” — a union that will hereby join the “Power Couple” ranks of Finchel, Puckleberry, Squinn, Mina, Bartie, and whatever other random couple Glee decides to make up in the future! 

 “No one has showed me, as much as you, what it means to be a man.  From now on, I’ve got your back,”  explains a teary-eyed Finn.  It’s about damn time, You Lazy Stepbrother, YOU!  Finn then breaks into yet another Bruno Mars hit.  This one is the super sweet, “Just the Way You Are.”

Speaking of Finn, did I mention he loves Rachel too much to tell her he actually DID have sex with Santana, while the pair was on a break — even though doing so might make him more popular?

Oh yeah, that decision is going to TOTALLY end up biting him in the ass later . . .

Kurt abandons McKinley, heads to Hogwarts Dalton

Back at school, Kurt is about to receive some bad news from Principal Sue.  As it turns out, the school board dismissed her decision to expel Karofsky.  (She has resigned in protest.  Welcome back, Principal Figgins.)

“Come on!  Don’t act surprised!  You guys knew it was only a matter of time . . . I’m still on contract with Glee for 8 more episodes!”

But with Karofsky still at the school, ready to terrorize Kurt at a moments notice , Kurt no longer feels safe at McKinley.  And so, conveniently, just in time for next week’s Sectionals Extravaganza.  Kurt’s Pa and Step Ma use all their “Honeymoon Money” That must have been one HUGE HONEYMOON they were planning, because private schools are FRIGGIN EXPENSIVE  to transfer Kurt to a school, where there is a No Tolerance Against Bullying Policy — a school where boys don’t use their fist; they proudly sing, prance, and play with wands . . . Hogwarts School of Wizardry Dalton Academy!

Killing Voldemort, one show tune at a time . . .

(Note: Kurt STILL hasn’t outed Karofsky for kissing him, which he REALLY SHOULD, especially since he isn’t planning on returning to the school.   It would serve that closeted Asshat RIGHT!)

You know what this means, don’t you?  Kurt is going to be a Dalton Academy WARBLER!  And the Warbler’s are AGAINST New Directions at sectionals!

Be afraid, fellow Gleeks!  Be VERY AFRAID!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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