As a big fan of the television show Glee (we call ourselves “Gleeks”), I’m hard-pressed to find anything not to like about Glee: The Music, Volume 1. In fact, I was hooked on the music after watching the special May 2009 preview episode of the television show, which featured the cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” one of my all-time favorite Journey (and 80s) songs. The version is fronted by über-talented Lea Michele, who plays perfectionist Rachel, and tall, dark and handsome Cory Monteith, who plays slightly dumb, jock with a heart of gold Finn, and backed by their fellow glee club members. (This “Don’t Stop Believin’” cover quickly shot to number one on the iTunes charts after that airing.)
After that, many Glee critics (and Gleeks) worried that nothing could top the premiere. But oh, did they ever. When the show came back for its regular Fall season, it included more 80s covers, such as Monteith’s earnest, adorable take on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and glee club leader/teacher Will’s (Matthew Morrison’s) rendition of Young MC’s “Bust a Move.” (As a side note, I prefer the vocals of the “students” to those of the “adults” in this show.)
There are also plenty of recent hits to please Top 40 fans. Morrison takes center stage with Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” Michele hits all the right notes with a cover of Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” and beautifully belts out Jordan Sparks's “No Air,” and Amber Riley, who plays the big-voiced diva Mercedes, plays to her strengths with Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” and Jill Scott’s “Hate On Me.”
Show tunes also get their day, with Michele and Broadway/television star Kristen Chenoweth, who plays Will’s glee club alumni, covering “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret. Another Broadway nod goes to Wicked, this one featuring Michele and Chris Colfer, who plays the effeminate, stylish Kurt, taking turns with lead vocals in “Defying Gravity.”
Rounding out the Glee: The Music, Volume 1 soundtrack are covers of Celine Dion’s “Taking Chances,” Heart’s “Alone,” Queen’s “Somebody To Love,” Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” The Supreme’s “You Keep Me Hanging On,” Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On,” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Truth be told, there’s not a bad cover in the lot, but my favorites are definitely “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Defying Gravity,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and “Sweet Caroline.” The latter is sung by Mark Salling, who plays bad-boy Puck. On that note, unless you’re a fan of the television show Glee, musicals in general, are in a glee club, or perhaps karaoke a lot, you probably won’t get much out of this soundtrack. But us Gleeks are guaranteed to love it.