This week’s episode of Glee, “The First Time,” features the cast covering music from the acclaimed musical West Side Story and the return of the Warblers.
Lea Michele (Rachel) and Darren Criss (Blaine), who on the show are playing Maria and Tony in McKinley High’s production of West Side Story, are highlighted on tracks “Tonight” and “One Hand, One Heart.”
In general, I think that Lea Michele can handle whatever piece of music is thrown her way, so it should be no surprise that she reigns supreme on these two tracks. Over the past couple seasons, listeners have been made aware of just how truly talented she is, and with these songs she packs a one-two punch. And Criss is no slouch, either. His voice comes across strong and pure on both tracks. He demonstrates a lot of vocal control and sounds wonderful in contrast to Michele.
Naya Rivera (Santana), whose character also took part in the production as Anita, also pairs up with Michele this week for a duet. Both singers showcase their strong points during “A Boy Like That.” Michele’s voice ascended to operatic heights during the song, however, I’m going to give the edge to Rivera, who proves she can offer the show so much more than the occasional Amy Winehouse cover. She really captures the drama of that scene between Anita and Maria in her voice and it translates beautifully to the ears.
Rivera’s vocal performance on both “A Boy Like That” and “America” are truly standout moments for her this week. I would go out on a limb and say this is the best she has sounded throughout her entire time on the series. Rivera displays rich vocals that are full of personality and pizazz. These songs allow for the singer to show some range and depth to her voice, which is a joy to listen to.
The Warblers make their triumphant return to Glee this week. With Curt Mega (Nick) on lead vocals, the talented group delivers a fun and charismatic take on Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.”
I unabashedly admit that I very much enjoy this one. The backing harmonies are solid and Mega’s voice has a great tone to it. His vocal performance is, quite simply, charming. Glee newcomer Grant Gustin (Sebastian) and Eddy Martin (Thad) also lend their vocals to the track. I really hope this isn’t the last we hear from the Warblers this season; they’re always a fun listen.
The songs of West Side Story have truly brought out the best in the show’s cast members. Music from Glee’s “The First Time” is not to be missed.
Music from Glee’s “The First Time” is available now on iTunes.
Photo credits: Adam Rose/Beth Dubber/FOX