Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Grading "Glee" -- Season 02, Episode 19

Reviewing and grading "Glee" is relatively fun and easy because it's usually not a show about MY music. I do have my biases toward many of the show's characters, but when it comes to the songs, I'd like to think I can be a fairly passive observer and just write about what I see and hear. I like the show because I love music and most of their song choices are pretty good, but I usually don't have a strong emotional connection to those songs. In other words, they don't tackle any of my sacred cows so if they butcher something then it's water off a duck's back, and if it turns out to be a memorable rendition then it's a nice bonus.

So now it gets serious. "Rumours". One of my favourite albums of the 70's. An album that changed my life when I rediscovered it in the 90's, remembered how amazing it was, and realized that years of "alternative" radio had irresponsibly educated me to detest stuff like Fleetwood Mac and to listen to shitty punk or indie rock in its place.

The assignment of the week was to pick a song from "Rumours" and to put your own spin on it. Unfortunately, most of them rattled off note-for-note covers of the originals, which means they get zero points for creativity and forces me to compare their xeroxed version with those by The Mac. Guess who's going to win those battles?

"Dreams". C. The songs from "Rumours" aren't "singers songs" in that they leave very little room for embellishment (maybe that's why they wouldn't let Amber Riley sing this week). That means Kristin Chenoweth's talents are a bit wasted on a mid-tempo, laid back song like this, but nonetheless she did Stevie Nicks proud. However, she wasn't the only person singing ... "Dreams" is not a duet, and their voices didn't mesh at all. Matthew Morrison dragged this down a lot.

"Never Going Back Again". B. Artie's singing at the start was, in a word, horrendous but the song redeemed itself by breaking into a huge chorus of acoustic guitars, and well, that's my kryptonite. This was the only point in the episode where it felt that they put some effort into reinterpreting the song.

"Songbird". C-. I've always considered this to be the most overrated song on "Rumours", it simply doesn't move me like it moves most people. Maybe that's why I think it's one of the most, if not the most "coverable" song on the album. On first listen this was way better than I expected, then I heard it a second time with the music only, no picture and had a very different impression. It definitely loses its sheen when you're not watching two hot girls make weepy eyes at each other for two minutes. If this had turned up on the radio I would have recoiled in horror.

"I Don't Want To Know". D+. First of all, the song is about a breakup, not about not wanting to know what secrets your partner might be keeping. I hate it when "Glee" does this. What else can I say? Yeah, they should have smiled more. Next.

"Go Your Own Way". C. They managed to rock out fairly well on the arrangement, but what was with Lea Michele's singing? Finally, a song on where the singer can let loose and really belt out the chorus, and she doesn't do it?

"Don't Stop". C-. The singing and dancing was like one of those group numbers on the results shows of "American Idol". In fact, I'm almost certain they've done this song on AI at least once in that exact setting. Those group numbers are the very definition of "pretty basic stuff", and like this episode-closing performance, they're almost always forgettable.

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