When FOX’s Glee announced it would be tackling original songs this week, I knew it would either be amazing or horrible. I didn’t really see an in between happening. It is the former, by the way. What I did not expect is the volume of new songs! SIX! I expected two or three for the Regionals competition, and of course we get those, but we also got more in the middle of the episode. Here is a ranking of the original songs in reverse order of greatness:
6. “Only Child” Another Rachel (Lea Michele) misfire, which, in concept, has potential to be good, but is executed poorly. Score: 2/10 (By comparison, “My Headband”, Rachel’s previous outing, gets 1/10, but it’s a good thing for the show that both rank so low, as it is intended.)
5. “Get It Right” A Rachel power ballad, which I will discuss below. Score: 7/10
4. “Big Ass Heart” Puck’s (Mark Salling) second attempt to woo Lauren (Ashley Fink) by song should have been equally offensive as his first, but she’s no longer immune to his charms. Plus, he writes it himself! Score: 8/10
3. “Trouty Mouth” Santana (Naya Rivera) sings this one to Sam (Chord Overstreet). You can really feel the love. Hehe. Score: 8.5/10
2. “Hell to the No” Mercedes (Amber Riley) kills it in a number that fits her so perfectly, it has to be written for her. And by her. Sorry Will (Matthew Morrison); it was plenty good enough for Regionals. Score: 9/10
1. “Loser Like Me” No surprise here. The New Directions have been picked on for far too long, and they channel that frustration, and their triumph over it, with a song that captures the spirit of the series better than any other. Love watching Sue (Jane Lynch) squirm in her seat as she realizes she inspired it. Score: 10/10
The songs that are chosen for Regionals are certainly fantastic. Rachel’s ballad is drawn from her experiences with Finn (Cory Monteith) and Quinn (Dianna Agron). They are secretly dating, and Finn wants to hold off telling Rachel until after the competition. Quinn reluctantly agrees, but befriends Rachel in an effort to keep her enemy close. Rachel finds out anyway, accidentally, and pours that hurt into an emotional song she delivers with trademark talent from the stage. While I like other songs in the episode better, for what it was, “Get It Right” is fitting.
While I am glad for the song it produced, the triangle with Quinn, Finn, and Rachel could be handled better. While Quinn was growing as a person at the end of last season, recent episodes have shown her backslide. This week, it appears she is only with Finn so she can win Prom Queen. While later admitting she has a whole future planned out for them, once they take over Burt’s (Mike O’Malley) auto repair shop, it looks like Quinn only wants Finn for what he can give her, not who he is. I am disappointed, as Agron has the chops to handle a more serious plot, so I don’t understand why she is not getting it. At this rate, Rachel and Finn will reunite by April.
And how about the modest acceptance speech by Rachel when she is named Regionals’ MVP? Talk about character growth! Quinn may be backsliding, but Rachel sure isn’t.
I expected the show to drop the Santana / Brittany (Heather Morris) thing for at least a few episodes now that their feelings are out in the open, and Santana has been rejected. Thankfully, I underestimated the writers. We only get one sweet moment this week where Brittany worries over Santana staying with Sam, but it was one more than expected. I am told that Santana will be back to her old self soon, chasing anyone that breathes, but that the final three episodes of the season will really get heavy for the two of them. Looking forward to it very much!
On the other side of the gay coin, Blaine (Darren Criss) finally kisses Kurt (Chris Colfer)! In the smooch seen ’round the world, the relationship the show has been dancing around for months finally culminates into something official. Inspired by Kurt’s sad rendition of “Blackbird” after the death of his pet bird, Blaine makes a move. I love the two of them together; what fan of the show doesn’t? And while I am straight myself, Kurt easily manages to move me with his sappy Beatles numbers, so I get why that would push Blaine to act. While not at the level of last fall’s “I Want to Hold You Hand”, and how could it be, with the motivation for each being on diffrerent levels, “Blackbird” is a more than an adequate showcase for the young man’s talent.
I am curious, though, when did Blaine become the voice of the Warblers? He is a junior member, and while he was well respected when the group was introduced, I do not remember him being the only soloist. All of a sudden, Blaine is the one who makes all the decisions for them. The stuffed shirts are against any changes at all to their formula, until Blaine asks for a duet with Kurt at Regionals, and then suddenly, everyone is on board. I would be more upset if the two weren’t so damn good. They master “Candles” with ease. So I guess I’ll just suspend belief and think that high school kids would willingly give out solos based solely on talent. Though that’s a pretty big leap.
I’m glad New Directions went with original songs, because otherwise I’m not sure how they would have shown themselves better than the other groups. The Warblers, besides the aforementioned duet, also rocked “Raise Your Glass”. I almost wish for a spin-off series (notice, I said almost) so we can get to know this bunch, who is clearly teeming with talent. I also like their attitudes, as they were cheering for the New Directions in appreciation of what the other group accomplishes, but are disappointed by their loss. Totally legit, mature outlook.
As for the third group in the competition, Aural Intensity, under the direction of Sue Sylvester, I really, really liked their “Jesus Is My Friend”. Sure, it is pandering, but it is very good pandering. The choreography and vocal tones are spot on. It is almost so good that it isn’t cheesy. Almost. The star of David takes it over the top, and kind of ruins any legitimacy that is creepy up.
A great delight in this episode are the judges at Regionals. Continuing the tradition of bringing in famous faces, the episode also stays committed to this year’s promise of keeping the focus on our favorite kids. While the trio does not get a lot of screen time, they expertly tear up what they do get, and make a memorable impact. Well, two of them, anyway. Some quick googling, and I can’t find any information on the third, including who the actor is.
Kathy Griffin plays a tea party member inspired by Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell in a way only she can. Even her preemptive announcement that she is not a witch made me laugh. While Kathy can sometimes stray a little too corny, I loved her Life on the D-List, and the editing boosted her legitimacy here. Equally funny is the wonderful Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy, Eli Stone), playing comical as a newly-minted nun who was, until recently, a stripper. Bonus laughs, in a sad sort of way, that the nun sees right through the Jesus pandering by Sue, but the Republican tea party candidate does not.
So what is next on the docket for the New Directions? Well, we were promised a season finale at Nationals in New York City whether they were performing or not. Clearly they are. And with the original song ceiling busted, I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more new pieces. Especially at Nationals, as they can’t go backwards in competition once they have broken new ground. Also coming up, Sue puts together a team of fellow miscreants to take down Will, which will include his ex-wife, Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), seen-once-before Glee club coach Dustin Goolsby (Cheyenne Jackson, 30 Rock), and the former McKinley High glee director, Sandy (the great Stephen Tobolowsky). And we’ll get the return of Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow)!
Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.