The start of the second half of Glee's freshman season starts tonight. There are a million reasons to love this show, but we always come back for the tunes. These are our favorites so far.
When it comes to assessing entertainment, the only things we really need to hold our attention are costume changes and production numbers. Luckily, this show has plenty of both. It also has lots of serious contradictory emotion surrounding these little ditties. Not only did we consider the quality of the music and the choreography, but also the emotional impact that it had in the show. Sure there were some song choices that didn't always jibe with the storyline, but usually the writers pick exactly the right song for the right moment. We can't wait to see what's coming, but here is what we liked so far, in chronological order.
"Bust Your Windows": This song had a lot of firsts in it. It was the first time we really saw Mercedes let loose, the first time the music took itself out of the action to take place in some nether universe of performance, and the first time we saw that Glee could do wonders with songs we've never heard before. This Jazmine Sullivan track was relatively obscure before Fox got its hands on it and broadcast it to the four winds, and even though this was the first time we heard it, its tough-minded and angry sentiment was perfect for a moment when Mercedes feels wronged because babygay Kurt doesn't love her back.
"Maybe This Time": I am possibly a little biased because this classic from the movie Cabaret is one of my favorite songs of all time, but it was ideal in the hands of boozy April (guest star Kristin Chenoweth) begging for a second chance and wannabe star Rachael trying to bust out of high school obscurity. It really is the perfect anthem for Glee itself, a combination of hope and pathos sung by a self-confessed loser who is doing the only thing she knows how to find her way to acceptance and glory. It doesn't hurt that both these ladies have killer voices and the interchange between the two characters—two sides of the same coin even if they don't know it yet—was pitch perfect.
"You Keep Me Hangin' On": There is nothing on the face of the earth that is going to stop me from loving a choreographed cheerleader number. Oh, Quinny, you're so fine, you're so fine, you blow my mind! The dancing is amazing and the updated arrangement of this R&B classic is spectacular, but this song also combines another great Glee contradiction: flinty toughness during times of defeat. Quinn pleads for her man Finn, her adversary Rachael, her coach Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, and everyone at school to set her pregnant ass free. Not only does she feel wronged by everyone, but oppressed as well. But she's gonna get through it—with high kicks, no less.
"Proud Mary": My personal favorite of New Directions' competitive numbers is this wheelchair-bound take on the Creedence Clearwater Revival standard. Everything that the titular glee club puts on stage has great singing and wonderful step-ball-change moves, but what is special about this one is that everyone was doing it to try to make wheelchair-bound Artie feel welcome and accepted. This was so well done, that those mean girls from Jane Addams Girls Choir stole it at sectionals. They had the steps down, but they are lacking the heart that makes me well up every time I see this.
"You Can't Always Get What You Want": Yes, this Rolling Stone ballad is a little played out. Yes, I don't particularly enjoy Finn's voice. Yes, the step-touchiness of the whole thing is a little bland. But still, still, this was a very powerful number. Maybe it's knowing that Mr. Schuester is on the phone listening to it all go down, maybe it's knowing that this is what our band of lovable losers has been working to all season, maybe it's the combination of triumph and disappointment (another one of those Glee contradictions), but this—rather than Rachael's scene-hogging "Don't Rain on My Parade"—was the real winner in the final episode.