It seems like most of the songs chosen for this album went for emotional memories rather than performance value alone. On top of “The Safety Dance,” the album includes Amber Riley singing “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. The song was performed in the episode “Home” in which Coach Sylvester puts Mercedes on a diet and she faints in the school cafeteria. Quinn gives her advice on how she shouldn’t let the coach get to her and change the fact that she’s so comfortable in her own skin. On the day of the pep rally for which Mercedes has been put on a diet, she doesn’t perform the planned routine, instead singing this song.
Another such song is U2’s “One,” which ended the episode “Laryngitis.” Just like Mercedes’ rendition of “Beautiful,” it’s another lesson in not defining oneself through any superficial quality. In the episode, Rachel is diagnosed with tonsillitis. Her doctor recommends that she have her tonsils removed, which Rachel fears will affect her voice and consequently negatively affect her singing. Finn introduces her to his friend Sean, whom a football accident rendered quadriplegic; he helps Rachel realise that there is a whole lot more to her than her singing, just like there is a whole lot more to him than his mobility.
There weren’t too many songs featuring Jonathan Groff (who portrays Jesse St. James), but there was one of the most powerful ones he sang, a duet with Lea Michele’s character, Rachel Berry. In the episode “Bad Reputation” Rachel thinks that by playing Puck, Finn, and Jesse one against the other, she will gain a bad reputation, which is an invaluable currency in high school. Unfortunately, all it succeeds in doing is to create a vast chasm between her and her boyfriend, Jesse, which is illustrated by their rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Thankfully, another of his great performances, i.e. “Hello” by Lionel Richie, also made it on the album.
There are so many great songs that were performed during the second half of the season that it’s obvious not all could make it on this album (unless they had a two-disk deluxe deluxe version). There is one in particular that I really wish had made it: Puck, Finn, and Mercedes’ rendition of “Good Vibrations” from Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. I guess I’ll just have to purchase the single on iTunes.