“Glee” burst onto the scene in May 2009 with a simple question: what happens when a group of geeky teenagers form a high school glee club? Many critics originally scoffed at the idea of a musical show actually working on television (remember “Cop Rock,” anyone?).
Luckily the band of misfits at William McKinley High School had more up their sleeves than a few songs and the show has become a television tour-de-force. This season has introduced us to the wonders of themed shows (Britney Spears) while humorously tackling real-life teen issues with ease. However, it’s the covers of some of music’s most popular songs that keeps us coming back each week. Here are our top 10 favorite “Glee” covers (so far.)
1. (I’m a) Slave 4 U — Our interactions with Brittany S. Pearce (Heather Morris) were limited to her hilarious one-liners during season one. However, her version of Britney Spears’ “(I’m a) Slave 4 U” during the Brittany vs. Britney episode showed us that there’s real dancing and singing talent hiding behind her dim-witted façade. Here’s hoping “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy finds a way to put Brittany’s immense talent in the forefront in the future.
2. Teenage Dream — A smitten Kurt (Chris Colfer) beams with, well, glee, as he watches his crush, Blaine (Darren Criss) perform a boy-filled cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” It’s adorable, largely due to the giddy grin plastered on Kurt’s face during the entire performance. It’s also successful — “Teenage Dream” is poised to become the best-selling “Glee” single on iTunes and it’s one of YouTube’s most-watched videos. Something makes us think that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Blaine on “Glee,” and that’s just fine with us.
3. Empire State of Mind — Jay Z’s ode to the City That Never Sleeps was “Glee”-ified on the season two debut. We’re a sucker for the original, but the cute factor of Finn’s (Cory Monteith) and Puck’s (Mark Salling) rapping made us giggle with delight.
4. Sweet Caroline — We didn’t realize that Bad boy Puck had the pipes to deliver such a swoon-worthy version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Don’t get us wrong — we were pleasantly surprised and we’ve been inclined to believe that this version is one of our all-time favorites on “Glee.”
5. Beautiful — “Glee” does an amazing job of showcasing the diversity of today’s youth by tackling difficult topics like bullying, homophobia and self-esteem with a humorous, yet tactful, approach. The show’s cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” is one example of that approach. In the episode, Mercedes (Amber Riley) deals with her own weight issues while trying to fit in with the Cheerio’s squad. Eventually, she realizes that compromising her own sense of self isn’t enough to join the group — and shows us why with her powerful rendition of the hit.
6. Dream On — This cover of the 1973 Aerosmith classic pitted Mr. Schu (Matthew Morrison) against childhood nemesis Bryan Ryan (Neil Patrick Harris) in an audition for the roll of Jean Valjean in a local production of “Les Miserables.” The result? A classic sing-off between two talented males with Broadway backgrounds that rivals the original.
7. Don’t Stop Believin’ — This Journey classic could pretty much serve as the theme song for “Glee” — it’s was ubiquitously present throughout season one and we’re pretty OK with that. Why? Because the song showed off the cast’s remarkable talent in one small package – from the flawless harmonies to the powerhouse lead vocals shared by Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Finn. Don’t worry, Gleeks — we won’t stop believin’ anytime soon.
8. Vogue — Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) cleaned up nicely – and showed off her decent singing voice — in her replica of “Vogue” during the Madonna tribute episode. Her performance — and look — was so like Madonna’s original that it was difficult to tell the difference. OK, yes the original didn’t have Sue Sylvester’s trademark attitude – and that’ why we like the “Glee” version oh so much better.
9. Bad Romance — Kurt led the pack on this cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but it was Santana (Naya Rivera) that brought the attitude. The “Glee” version featured Kurt and all the lady Gleeks decked out in pretty accurate replicas of Gaga’s infamous outfits. No, it’s not better than the original — but we give them a 10 for a teenage-friendly interpretation of the racy song.
10. Sweet Transvestite – “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” might not be one of the most popular (or well reviewed) “Glee” episodes, but we do love the Mercedes-led version of “Sweet Transvestite.” Sure, she looks nothing like a Dr. Frank-N-Furter, but that’s probably for the best.
“Glee” on Fox