Glee is becoming one of the most well known new shows of the 2009-2010 season, and rightly so. Taking on the themes of growing up as a teenager, while showcasing a few serious singers and dancers, makes this series a one to watch as well as tape.
Glee: The Music Vol. 3 Showstoppers combines songs from several episodes and puts them into a serious selection of popular hits. There is something for everyone, whether a listener simply enjoys music or cannot get enough of musical theatre. To the latter end, several performers who have made a career (or at least partially) onstage with their voices are included.
"Dream On" is from the episode of the same name. This song pairs Matthew Morrison, who plays Will Schuester, the glee club teacher, with Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.; How I Met Your Mother) guest starring as Bryan Ryan. Each is solid in his own right. However, putting them together makes for a memorable performance. Morrison's tenor blends well with Harris's baritone to show just how painful it can be to never quite achieve dreams.
On the other hand, "I Dreamed a Dream" is slightly problematic. Idina Menzel, in a recurring role as Shelby, and Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, are both known for being Broadway stars. Obviously, they know how to hit all the right notes. That being said, Menzel is much, much stronger during this piece. She practically dwarfs Michele vocally, and the difference is easily noticed.
"Poker Face," from the episode "Theatricality," pairs Menzel and Michele together once more. The balance is better, so the singers are heard more evenly. With only a piano as the accompanying music, their strength is toned down a bit. It works nicely.
Jonathan Groff, who plays Jesse St. James, is a relative newcomer to the show. He is a bit more well known for his work in Spring Awakening, the Broadway musical which earned Groff a Tony nomination. He gets his chance to sing "Hello" with his SA costar Michele. The pairing is one of two musical equals with a rich sound. Each note is perfectly sung, Groff's solid baritone blending with Michele's sweet soprano.
"Physical," from the episode "Bad Reputation," is a delightful romp. Olivia Newton-John gets a chance to redo her well remembered video with help from Jane Lynch, who is seen week to week as Sue Sylvester. The opening notes come from a drummer, and pretty well resemble a beating heart. It works.
Kevin McHale shines with his version of "Safety Dance." The bouncy notes reveal a party is going on with this song. Toes are tapping away with the opening bars of this tune. It's my favorite song for being pure fun.
Not only are there great duets on this CD, solos let the spotlight shine on those Glee cast members who have been on the show as relative unknowns. While they may not sing the lead from week to week, talent deserves a chance to shine.
Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, is a vocal powerhouse. Usually, she belts out a song lyric with full gusto. "Beautiful," the song by Christina Aguilera, is slightly different. Riley sings it with a soft sensualness which makes for a pleasant surprise.
"A House is not a Home," sung by Chris Colfer, aka Kurt, is winsome but meaningful. Colfer's falsetto draws out the song with a sweet gentleness. On the other hand, "Rose's Turn" shows Kurt's self-centered personality well. This is not a soothing musical piece, rather a harsh mad at the world tirade. Had anyone else sung it, the effect would be diminished.
"Bad Romance," from Lady Gaga, gives most of the group a time to sing together. Left out is Morrison, but his teacher's character does not need to be in every number. The only problem I have with this song is the blending of voices makes it tricky to discern who sings which part.
With twenty songs to choose from, it's not difficult to find one to love. A few will become instant favorites, while others are easy to ignore. That's okay, everyone has different tastes, including music.