Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists

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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

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Review of "Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists"

published 30/06/2010 | Seresecros
Member since : 13/02/2006
Reviews : 142
Members who trust : 100
About me :
Dead excited about the new Diana Vickers album
Not for me
Pro Talented performers
Cons Stuck singing bad, overproduced songs. Nothing original about the album, which is bland to the max
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"STOP BELIEVING."

The pilot for FOX’s TV smash ‘Glee’ was great, an ironic take on the High School Musical style of music which has been recently blasted at us from every direction by Disney. It crashed every conceivable stereotype and cliché into one big mash-up, as it told the story of a ‘glee’ club attempting to reach the finals of a singing competition. Glee clubs are an afterschool club who sing songs from the West End/Broadway and overproduce them in order to create caramelised pop which wouldn’t sound out of place in a children’s musical. The show creators cunningly managed to find a way to take the concept of a struggling Glee club, add some vague ideas about race, diversity, and singing through adversity, and create themselves a hit TV show. The only problem was that they only had twelve episodes worth of material. After Glee Club finally (spoiler!) triumphed against all their demons and won the sectional competition halfway through the first season, the show fell apart and now stands up as a Heroes-esque monstrosity, desperately chucking everything at the audience in a feeble attempt to revive the popularity of the first twelve episodes. Luckily for the show’s producers, the public haven’t yet caught on to the fact that the show is currently godawful,

While the show is still popular, FOX have decided with all their infamous restraint to milk as much from their dying cow as possible. So we have DVD box sets which collect only a few select episodes, a ‘Director’s Cut’ of the pilot episode (still the best episode), a worldwide tour for the cast to perform at the biggest concert halls in America (“worldwide”. Pish!), and, of course, about seventeen different soundtracks. Actually the soundtracks thing isn’t too bad, because each episode features about five or six songs (the show is gradually spending more and more time in the musical numbers, because the rest of the episode has no direction or plot) and so every twelve episodes provides enough material for a positively bulging CD. The first soundtrack has no fewer than seventeen tracks to dribble into your ears, with almost a third of them being worthwhile.

I like musicals, don’t get me wrong. I think that Glee does a good thing in promoting musical theatre and drama, and anything which promotes noted Broadway talent like Idina Menzel (who appears in the second part of season 1, so won’t be mentioned again here), Kristen Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison can’t be wholly reprehensible. But it has to be said that you have to have watched the show in order to get any kind of enjoyment out of this CD. Without a single original song to their name, the album is comprised entirely of covers – and surprisingly, barely any of them are of established Broadway numbers. There’s a vacuous feeling which sweeps across the album, as a highly-talented cast struggle to sing songs which are overdone and overproduced. Whilst this style of production served the purpose of adding to the series’ initial sense of self-satire, as the show has continued it has grown more and more serious and up itself, so the songs have gotten more and more unlikeable. And it shows – the start of the album, which replays songs basically in chronological order – is far more accomplished and interesting than the end.

I’ll review the CD in order of performers, because it’ll be easier that way. The first performer to step up, then, will be Lea Michelle, who plays the precious brunette that thinks too much of herself. Hopefully Michelle is singing in-character for this album, because her songs are by far the most self-involved and ridiculous to listen to. Her voice sounds like a typical Jessica Simpson/Britney style singer, but the character she plays is so self-obsessed that every time she sings she believes herself to be the second coming. The result is that during songs like ‘Taking Chances’ and ‘Keep Holding On’ her every wavering vocal irritates the soul like a gritty brick being rubbed into your brain. She is profoundly – PROFOUNDLY – painful to listen to on this album, and her voice is not strong enough to back up her role as lead female on the show. She showboats mercilessly, like Mariah Carey but without the vocal range which deafens dolphins. I truly detest listening to any song she performs – with one exception. ‘Take A Bow’, her cover of the Rihanna song, catches some traces of emotion and feels like it can legitimately stand alongside the original version. The lyrics are still shoddy, but that’s more Rihanna’s fault than anyone elses.

Cory Monteith is the lead male, and his voice suffers in comparison to his contemporary heartthrobs like Zac Efron (who legitimately has charisma), to other musicians in his style, and to most homeless people. I would charitably describe it as somewhat weak in tone, a whiny nasal performance which has yet to find a song which suits it. He takes the lead on a lot of songs, such as the much-touted ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ cover which made the show popular in the first place. In the context of the pilot episode, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ was an inspired choice of song for the band to sing – it highlights their attempts to be different, it shows them as underdogs fighting to beat the odds, and it sets things up for the rest of the series. On-record, it doesn’t have any visuals to help it along, and it falters under its own weight. Again, it feels overdone and exploitative. Like FOX! Monteith gets a solo on ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’, which I swear never appeared on the show. It’s unmemorable power-ballad nonsense which would have been delivered far more convincingly by any of his other male co-stars. He works well as part of the chorus, but whenever he steps up on his own he sounds unsure of himself – the complete opposite of Michelle.

A lot of people say that Amber Riley is the best singer on the show, which goes to show that a lot of people don’t understand how a vocal performance is meant to work. When you sing a song, the idea is to elevate the themes and ideals of the lyrics and make the audience feel whatever the song is trying to get across. You do this by singing along to the music and the lyrics, so that it feels you are truly living the emotions. What you shouldn’t do is sing all your songs in exactly the same way. Riley has only one style: loud. And singing loudly and putting in a lot of cartwheels and flutters whenever a high note approaches is NOT good singing. It’s trying to place yourself above the music. Whenever Celine Dion or Mariah Carey do this, it’s because they are attempting to distract you from their awful melodies and songwriting. Here it sounds redundantly stupid for a singer to be given some of the most emotive songs – ‘Bust the Windows Out Your Car’, for goodness’ sake, how can anyone fail to catch the anger of those lyrics – when she proves time and time again that she truly cannot sing a single emotion. She belts it out at a fair whip, but all that proves is that she thinks a lot of herself and not enough of her songs. I dub thee THE WORST SINGER ON THE ALBUM.

Broadway veteran Matthew Morrison plays the teacher who organises Glee Club, and I’m sure he’d bring gravitas and experience to a mostly young cast if only he weren’t forced to sing all the rap songs. For some reason the writers have decided that Morrison should sing ‘Bust A Move’ and ‘Gold Digger’, despite the fact that he patently can’t rap and is more suited to fuller songs, more sweeping musical numbers. When he sings alongside guest-star Kristen Chenoweth here, we see a different aspect of the show as a whole, but this is but one song amongst many. He makes a decent fist of his songs, but he’s given no chance to perform by the producers. I hear that in a later soundtrack he sings ‘Dream On’ alongside Neil Patrick Harris, so it sounds like they’ve finally come to their senses and given him something that plays to his strengths.

The other singers turn up mostly in the background, providing a showbiz chorus. They do sometimes get promoted though, and they invariably have all the best songs because they sound different to the main cast. Dianna Agron initially sounds great on ‘Keep Me Hangin’ On’ because her high-toned voice sounds so unlike the show-choir vanity of Michelle or the hysterics of Riley. The song quickly loses steam and falls apart, but the first minute or so is at least interesting; with Agron understanding the point of the song and emulating the tone well. Chris Colfer plays the gay one, which means he has a high-pitched voice when he sings (excellent work, progressive writers of America). Despite being the most unique singer in style and tone, and having a highly professional streak to his voice which makes him dead-set for Broadway once the show gets cancelled midway through season 3, he only gets one song on the album. And it’s a ‘duet’ with Lea Michelle. Another massive shame.

Who else is there? Oh, there’s a brief glimpse of Mark Salling, who sings a passable version of ‘Sweet Caroline’ for about a minute; and Kevin McHale appears towards the end to give us a deep voice liberally dosed with autotune, as he sings the Nouvelle Vague version of ‘Dancing With Myself’. He actually does sound like Zac Efron, but he isn’t as pretty as the other men so he’s downgraded to a bit-part playing a character in a wheelchair. The majority of McHale’s songs seem to focus on the idea that he can’t dance because, y’know, HE’S IN A WHEELCHAIR. Which seems oddly patronising towards the audience because in real life McHale isn’t wheelchair-bound at all. Couldn’t the producers have cast an actor who does use a wheelchair, or would than have been too much like hard work? Who knows.

At any rate, the Glee soundtrack suffers massively from not featuring the visuals from the show. While the songs have some replay value to fans of the show so they can go “oh! This was the bit when Rachel and Finn looked longingly at each other!!”, the album does not have any spark or edge to it, despite picking some frankly bizarre hip-hop/rap numbers to fit in the tracklisting. The show has lost its way in terms of plot and characters, and when you add to this the knowledge that the songs don’t work without either… not a bright future for the show. Still, it caught the moment well, and I’m sure Rupert Murdoch will appreciate his newest pile of money and use it to do something that benefits humanity.

Or he’ll further fuck up everything. WHO KNOWS.


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Comments on this review

  • LadyValkyrie published 22/10/2011
    I got into Glee for a few episodes and then swiftly went off it again as it was the same old thing every week.
  • jesi published 01/10/2010
    I've not actually watched any of the shows, and cannot imagine enjoying this if it is as you suggest . . . &#9829 jesi &#98929
  • johnny040676 published 29/09/2010
    Not for me but a great review, John
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Product Information : Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists

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1 CD(s) - TV - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 15/02/2010 - 886975409020

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EAN: 886975409020

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