Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists
1 CD(s) - TV - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 15/02/2010 - 886975409020
7 reviews from the community
Review of "Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists"
Off to Vegas for some sunshine...back soon :-)
I first heard of Glee last year when it was rumoured that the Journey classic Don’t Stop Believin’ was going to be the winner’s song on the X-Factor.Clips were circulated online from the show’s pilot episode of the cast singing the song and I must admit I was intrigued by the premise of the show – a high school choir comprised of a disparate group of students, with some added intrigue from school staff.
The show began airing in the UK in January and almost immediately the charts showed the power of television with Don’t Stop Believin’ charting strongly and other tracks from the show turning up in the Top 40 almost every week.The first soundtrack CD showcases the vocal talents of some of the show’s biggest stars but also tackles a sound which has been much maligned in recent years – probably because of it’s ubiquity in the X Factor winner’s single – that of the choir.
Just back from a trip to the US, I picked up both the soundtrack CDs of Glee for my daughter, who unsurprisingly loves the show. The target audience is definitely teens but there is much on the TV show to entertain the adults too – certainly when I watch it with my daughter I find we are laughing at entirely different parts of the show.Only volume 1 is currently available in the UK, with volume 2 slated for release on 15th March.
The album opens with the aforementioned Don’t Stop Believin’, which I have to say was an inspired choice for the pilot episode and as an opener for the sound the producers have in mind for the school choir.Lead vocals are handled by Cory Montieth, who plays Finn on the show, and Lea Michele, who plays the particularly driven Rachel. Montieth is hard to hear once Michele starts singing, but I suspect this is nothing to do with production values and everything to do with the role Michele’s character plays in the TV show.
The backing vocals provided by the choir make this an inspired cover and you have to hand it to Lea Michele – vocally she is as gifted as Steve Perry, the man who originated the song.Sticking with the 80s soft rock genre is Can’t Fight This Feeling by Cory Montieth. Montieth has quite a soft voice which is perfect for this REO Speedwagon song – I well remember the original and have always had a problem with the way the lead singer of that band sang so it’s refreshing to hear the song sung without any vocal affectations.
Rnb is featured on the album with a surprisingly effective version of Kanye West’s Gold Digger performed by Matthew Morrison, who plays teacher and Glee Club organiser Will Schuester in the show. Morrison raps this very, very well, but the choir doing the backing vocals are incredibly good and take the song up to another level. This is the kind of song Glee is about for me – a really strong ensemble piece.Morrison also raps on Bust a Move very effectively and the female backing vocals are strong but nowhere near as good as on Gold Digger.
Jazmine Sullivan’s Bust Your Windows was used to great effect in the TV show as sung by Amber Riley, a former American Idol contestant who plays the part of big voiced Mercedes. It stands up well on it’s own too – Riley has a strong and soulful powerhouse of a voice and is ideally suited to this midtempo track which explains anger and revenge in a perfectly controlled way.Riley also performs Hate on Me where her anger is a little less controlled on this Jill Scott track.
Lea Michele features solo on several tracks and she is particularly effective on Take a Bow originally performed by Rihanna – here she conveys the pain of losing in love perfectly in her voice. Even better is her version of Platinum Weird’s Taking Chances, a song popularised by Celine Dion. She could teach Dion a lesson in vocal control in this power ballad such is her vocal skill.Somebody to Love is fantastic – this is a perfect choir song and the production on it doesn’t fail to deliver. There are some strong lead vocals from Montieth, Riley, Michele and from Kevin McHale who plays the wheelchair bound character Artie. This is the sort of thing that works very well both within the TV series and also as a stand alone track to listen to and is probably the highlight of the album for me.
Kristin Chenowith guest starred in an episode of Glee as April, the girl who was the star of the school’s Glee Club when Will was a student at the high school himself. She was particularly memorable in the show and I was delighted to see she featured on the CD. She shares vocals with Lea Michele on Maybe This Time from Cabaret but her maturity and desperate optimism is what stands out on this powerhouse of a show tune. Michele is technically brilliant on her part but she lacks the maturity of Chenowith’s voice.Chenowith also appears on Alone with Morrison. This Heart power ballad is one of my all-time favourite songs and it’s a joy to hear their voices blend in perfect harmony on this. There is a definite chemistry between Chenowith and Morrison vocally and one can only hope that she pitches up in the show for another duet at some point.
Michele and Monteith duet less effectively on a cover of Jordin Sparks’ No Air - there is something a little flat about their vocals overall on this song and they fail to convey the real emotion contained within the lyrics. Better is their version of Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne, but I think this works better because of the choir backing vocals which are soaring on the chorus.There is some filler on this album and I have to say that Dianna Agron’s version of the Supremes’ classic You Keep Me Hangin’ On is probably the weakest track on here. Agron, who plays chief cheerleader Quinn in the show, has a very reedy voice and it doesn’t really work effectively.
Mark Salling’s version of the Neil Diamond evergreen Sweet Caroline is sadly abridged. If you have seen where this was performed in the TV show as a tool with which to woo the Jewish Rachel, then you will really appreciate the humour behind the version. The problem with Sweet Caroline is it’s overplayed and has a habit of heading into the territory of cheese, so it is to Salling’s credit that he manages to keep this credible.Kevin McHale’s version of Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself is interesting if only because it is so far removed from the original. Instead of doing it as a power house rock song the pace slows down to an almost ragtime sound on the piano. McHale isn’t a particularly strong singer but he works very well on this.
Chris Colfer who plays Kurt in the show features in a duet with Michele, Defying Gravity from Wicked. Colfer is one of the show’s biggest finds talent wise – he has a beautiful singing voice and is also a comic actor of prodigious talent on the show. Both voices blend together very well, although I was left wishing I could hear more of Colfer.
Final ThoughtsThis is probably an album mainly for fans of the TV show, but there are some interesting musical moments contained within.
The standout tracks are undoubtedly Don’t Stop Believin’ and Somebody To Love as they really capture the essence of the show and work very effectively as choir songs.The addition of tracks performed by Kristin Chenowith despite her only appearing in one episode is another highlight for me as she really is a fantastic vocalist.
The real star of this CD is, however, Lea Michele. She is not always incredible – but she comes close, always pitch perfect and hitting every note with ease. Of all the solo songs, her version of Taking Chances is the best – definitely worth a listen, if not a punt.I have to give an honourable mention to Amber Riley however – she is another great find and while she does better performances on the second album in my opinion, don’t mistake that for me thinking her voice isn’t particularly special – it is very, very good.
It is a joy to see and hear stars of musical theatre being able to perform less theatrical songs on this CD – so many pop and rock singers lack the technical ability to sing with the ease of Chenowith, Michele, Morrison and Riley in particular.If you downloaded Don’t Stop Believin’ and expected this to be more of the same then I would suggest perhaps you just download Somebody to Love and don't buy the album however – they are the only two out and out big choir songs on this album. The rest, I fear, may disappoint.
"Don't Stop Believin'"
"Can't Fight This Feeling"
"Take a Bow"
"Bust Your Windows"
"Maybe This Time"
"Somebody to Love"
"Hate On Me"
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
"Keep Holding On"
"Bust a Move"
"Dancing with Myself"
Product Information : Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - TV - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 15/02/2010 - 886975409020
Listed on Ciao since: 11/04/2010