Those of you that frequent Ranting About Music! know that I have no love for Glee. A pot-shot here, a bad cover there, a sneer at their music on a list or two…yeah, I don’t care for it. But I’ve actually never really, really looked at the music. Yeah, I’ve heard a few songs, but they’ve been mostly overproduced schlock.
But the show has been incredibly successful, even on the charts. In fact, a few weeks ago, Glee officially had more Hot-100 entries than fucking Elvis, so they’ve gotta be doing something right, right? So this week, we’re taking a look at Glee tunes are on the Hot-100 because I’ve got time to kill and hate myself.
Baby, originally by Justin Bieber
Glee and Justin Bieber, two bad tastes that probably taste bad together. After the bro-coustic intro (apparently “Baby” could make a surprisingly good John Mayer knock-off), the song kicks into high-polish teen pop mode. Now, “Baby” is so lyrically bankrupt and I’m on a schedule, so I’m not even going to bother, but if I’m being fair, the acoustic to pop thing works really well. The song is well produced, too; not especially so, but it knows what it is, and the vocals aren’t terrible. Ok, this…this might be doable.
Sing, originally by My Chemical Romance
Alright, here we have a problem in principle. Firstly, “SING” wasn’t a great song already, and throwing Glee at My Chemical Romance makes as much sense as steak flavored ice cream. It’s not a matter of comparing the original to the cover, but that the cover is basically “My Chemical Romance as interpreted by Glee“, and the literal Google-Translator style transition from raucous rock to camped up pop feels confusing for both parties. Although MCR’s tendency to the over-dramatic fits Glee like a glove.
Take Me Or Leave Me, originally from Rent
Oh…bad idea. For those of you who don’t know, “Take Me or Leave Me” is a song from the musical Rent, meaning that this is a song written for people who can sing. It’s also a vocally demanding song, not to mention that the original is one of the most underrated showtunes of the past twenty years. And on this cover, Glee‘s tendency to overproduce suffocates what could have been an otherwise decent diva showdown. Neither of the actresses sound bad (although Amber Riley’s banshee wail should never be used), but the instrumentation is entirely too busy for a song meant to show-off vocal talent, and ends up sinking the whole thing.
Somebody to Love, originally by
Queen Jefferson Airplane Justin Bieber
I’ve never heard the original version, but this…eh. It’s boring, bland, and too Auto-Tuned. And that first one is my biggest problem with it; this song is so faceless it could be on Glee, it could be Jason DeRulo, or it could be Jay Sean. There’s no real talent behind it, no charisma, and no stage presence to it. Next.
Forget You, originally by Cee-lo Green
…alright, I said I wouldn’t compare these dollar-bin knockoffs to the originals, but fucking really? The production is the Kidz-Bop version of the original (one of the best produced songs of 2010), the censoring takes 85% of the fun from the song (I acknowledge this isn’t the show’s fault), and Paltrow is just terrible. At least the Glee kids can sing, she can’t. Her voice is thin, lifeless, and grating. So is the rest of this song. If most Glee covers are tolerable, and some like “Baby” are actually better than the original, then “Forget You” is why haters hate the show.
Firework, originally by Katy Perry
…did I hit the wrong button? Maybe my memory on the original “Firework” is hazy from not hearing every 15 minutes anymore, but this chorus sounds like a direct copy and paste of the original. The only difference is that Lea Michele actually has the range for it, but this is still an incredibly plastic song with an insincere performance. This one feels pretty average; the vocals are ok, but it’s still McDonald’s-level processed.
Wrapping things up, I can safely say I’d be fine without hearing any Glee ever again. Out of the six of these, only one, “Baby”, really struck me as good, and I can’t help but think part of that was setting the bar absurdly low (the original was #4 on my Worst of 2010 list). The worst part about it is that these weren’t unsaveable; the cast seems to vocally be there (although I did hear Auto-Tune), and there’s clearly a lot of money going into these songs. But as it is, they’re lazy and overproduced, proving that quantity charts over quality.