Oh, Glee. You are in so much trouble now.
Everyone has “their” album; that one collection of songs by a group or artist that, for whatever reasons became the soundtrack to their life; the songs they want played at their wedding AND their funeral; the songs that got them through just about everything, from heartbreak to housework. For Tom, that album is Rumours, and because we’ve been together for 15 years, Lorenzo knows every intake of breath and tambourine rattle as well as Tom does because he’s been subjected to it at top volume every time Tom has been in a good mood or a bad one.
We were as interested in the New Directions versions of these songs as we were in our own reactions to them. We found ourselves a little apprehensive every time the opening notes started for a song we (or at least, Tom) consider sacrosanct (which, for the purposes of this album, is all of them). Back when the Rocky Horror episode aired we noted, like anthropologists, the reactions of the Rocky Horror faithful to hearing their songs Glee’d up. Since Rocky Horror was never really part of our lives, meaning, we knew it, but we were never fanatical about it, we felt at the time that the “HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ‘SWEET TRANSVESTITE?!?” reactions were a bit much. After all, the original versions of all those songs still exist happily. If Glee did a bad or ill-advised cover version, well then, you need not ever hear it again and can safely listen to the original every day for the rest of your life.
But oh, it’s different when it’s YOUR soundtrack being re-interpreted. We wanted to be fair and come to each piece without preconceptions, but we’re not gonna lie, we had to WORK at it. This was a decent enough version of “Dreams.” Kristin’s voice makes a nice proxy for Stevie’s and Will nails the backup. It’s a little odd, seeing this song about the dalliances of young musicians being sung by a middle-aged lounge lizard shimmying in a too-tight pantsuit, but that’s Glee for you.
April seemed pretty wasted this time around. It seems her only real function in the story is to get Will to want to leave. Since all roads are leading to the finale in New York, this is obviously going to be a plot point for the rest of the season. We don’t mind. It’s a return to the Will of the earliest episodes of season 1 and that’s never a bad idea, considering how much crap they’ve thrown at the wall with this character, trying to make anything stick.
Here is where they won us over. Part of the fun of the episode was wondering which character was going to sing which song. When the opening notes of “Never Going Back Again” started, we were delighted, because Artie is a perfect fit for the song. Besides, having a teenage character sing an ode to cunnilingus while watching his girlfriend canoodle with her girlfriend is just subversive enough to make us clap our hands with cheeky glee. We really loved the staging and the arrangement here. Granted, the only arranging done to the song was to add more guitars, but it was surprisingly effective and it turned this quirky little song into something much sadder; a lament for all heartbroken guys.
So Artie and Brittany are just… over? We realize teenagers can hop from romantic partner to romantic partner awfully quickly, but when you look at this group, it’s kind of insane how many relationships they’ve all been in in a short time.
See, this is what Glee does well. We never would have thought so, but “Songbird” makes an almost perfect love song for two women. It’s an exceedingly tough song to sing so Naya didn’t always nail it, but it was sweet and pretty.
For once, the “hook” of the story actually worked with the song theme. New Directions has been cracking from the strain of all the strife roiling inside the group all season, so working through the Rumours tracklist fits amazingly well for the characters. We love scenes like this, where characters perform, but there are a half-dozen stories being told by the reactions of the other characters.
This is where our fanboyism reached its zenith. “NO! ‘Go Your Own Way’ is NOT a girl song! Stop it, Rachel, stop it!” But aside from a few times where she lapsed into Rachel wailing, which doesn’t really suit the song, we really liked this cover. It won’t make us forget the original, but it was a fun Glee version.
You may have noticed by now that we’re not really talking all that much about the story this week. It’s because we don’t have much to say. It’s the usual partner-hopping from the kids, existential crisis for Will, and Sue acting like a silly supervillain. We don’t have complaints, really. Like we said, it was integrated well with the songs and everything made sense for the characters, but it’s a lot of the same-old, same-old and besides, we were way more invested in hearing the kids get their Mac on.
But Sam’s story surprised us. If we had to choose a couple people to trim from the bloated cast, Chord Overstreet would probably top the list. Not because of any deficiency on his part; just because we don’t really get what this character is for. They tried to set him up with various people and it fizzled out each time. He can sing, but he’s not the only guy in the group who can. He’s cute, but that’s another area that’s being handled well by other cast members. He just doesn’t seem to add anything to the cast the way that, say, Blaine has or even Lauren has. This was the first time we thought he was worth keeping. It hasn’t escaped our notice that, besides being a group of uncommonly good-looking supposed social outcasts, New Directions is also composed mostly of teenagers from affluent families. This rather stark illustration of the middle class poverty that’s currently growing in this country was quite compelling, even if the answer to it was typical for Glee: Here, have a guitar and we’ll sing a song about it. But that’s what musicals are for, after all. As Fleetwood Mac purists, we kind of hated this cover on its own terms (Choreography? Adorable children? For THIS cocaine-fueled masterpiece?), but it was a perfect capper to the story, done in perfect Glee style.
Look, the show still has all the flaws its always had. It’s not like we’re suggesting this hour signals a Return to Quality for the show. But it was fun and it mostly fit the plot and the characters as we know them. That can’t be anything but a plus after the wildly uneven, increasingly nonsensical season we’ve been treated to.
[Screencap: tomandlorenzo.com – Video Credit: hulu.com]