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Music Review: Glee Cast – “Hold On To Sixteen”

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Last week’s episode of Glee, “Hold On To Sixteen,” featured seven tracks, which included the return of both Chord Overstreet (Sam) and The Glee Project’s Lindsay Pearce (Harmony).

GLEE: Sam (Chord Overstreet, R) returns to the glee club in the "Hold on to Sixteen" episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Dec. 6 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOXLet’s be real. Overstreet’s returning song on Glee should have been Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack.” Am I right? I’m kidding … kind of. Of all the songs for Overstreet to sing upon his return to the show, Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” was not an option that I was anticipating. But with Glee, as always, expect the unexpected. Unfortunately, this track really felt out of place amongst the rest of the episode’s songs.

I thought that Pearce did an amazing job on “Buenos Aires” from Evita. Man, this girl can sing. She exudes so much energy and personality when she sings, you can’t help to be drawn in. I know she was originally only allotted two episodes per The Glee Project, but from what we’ve gotten to hear from her this season, it would behoove them to figure out how to keep her character relevant. I can’t possibly be the only person that wants to hear Pearce on more than the two fantastic tracks she’s contributed to this season.

Naya Rivera (Santana) and Amber Riley (Mercedes) take the lead on the Troubletones’ Sectionals performance, a mash-up of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Now, there’s no denying that either of these ladies can sing, but the arrangement of this mash-up leaves much to be desired. Glee used the same strategy as the Adele “Rumour Has It”/“Someone Like You” mash-up, where the base song in this case was “I Will Survive” with some of “Survivor” threaded throughout. It’s still a decent listen, but for me, it just lacked the spark that the Adele track had lit. Maybe with different songs and a variation on the arrangement, the Troubletones’ latest mash-up could have been as good as their last one.

Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina) took the reins on the Jackson 5’s “ABC,” with additional vocals by Harry Shum Jr. (Mike), Chris Colfer (Kurt), and Dianna Agron (Quinn) as part of the New Directions’ Jackson family-centered Sectionals performance. Glee didn’t stray from the original track much, if at all, but when you’re covering the Jackson 5, you probably don’t want to mess around too much with the arrangement. Being way overdue for a solo track this season, Ushkowitz’s vocal performance on the track has a great energy to it. Her tone was really spot on and made the track one of the highlights of the week. Also, I hope Glee utilizes Shum’s voice more this season; as he sounds great on this track.

The track that I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with at the moment is Glee’s take on Janet Jackson’s “Control.” I am a longtime Janet Jackson fan, and I was excited to hear that Glee was going to be doing something with one of her songs. However, I was left feeling underwhelmed after the first couple of listens. Agron (Quinn) starts the song out with this stone cold emotion during the speaking bit, but from there the track, for me, goes downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of both Darren Criss’ (Blaine) and Kevin McHale’s (Artie) voices, but there was so much needed emotion and attitude that was lacking from this track.

There’s a difference between singing a song well and really being able to show emotion through the lyrics. I really would have liked an opportunity to hear how Agron would have sounded on the song itself. She has a softer singing voice, much like Jackson’s, and I think she or even Ushkowitz could have infused that song with the due emotion a lot better than either of the guys did.

The guys of Glee – Cory Monteith (Finn), Mark Salling (Puck), Criss, McHale, and Overstreet – took on one of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, “Man In The Mirror.” I’ve got to hand it to the Glee guys. I thought they did a really good job with this track. Monteith, in particular, has a really clean vocal and sounds fantastic.  

GLEE: Finn (Cory Monteith, L) and Blaine (Darren Criss, R) observe the competition in the "Hold on to Sixteen" episode of GLEE that aired Tuesday, December 6, 2011 (8:00-9:00 P.M. ET/PT) on FOXGlee did a great job finding a Michael Jackson song that would work well with all their voices and one where they could produce a cohesive sound. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When the cast is given great material to work with, it is really able to shine.

Indie-pop band fun.’s “We Are Young” was the big standout from last week’s group of tracks. It also became the Glee Cast’s second number one hit on iTunes from season three. Glee only made subtle changes to the arrangement to make the song their own. Highlighting Lea Michele (Rachel), Monteith, Overstreet, Agron, Rivera, and Riley, the song has easily become my favorite track of the season, so far. The cast’s vocal melodies are tight throughout the song, as they carve out quite the musical moment. This was the one track that I listened to once and just knew Glee had created something special. I urge any naysayers to take a second listen.



Songs from Glee’s “Hold On To Sixteen” are available now on iTunes.

Photo credit: Adam Rose/FOX

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.