Since the first episode debuted in 2009, Glee has become a cultural phenomenon, captivating and winning hearts of fans worldwide. In March this year the show celebrated its 100th episode, still going strong in its fifth season. To celebrate the milestone, the team are releasing a new album featuring all the songs from the two-part episode, including Britney Spears’ Toxic and Happy by Pharrell, as well as re-recordings of fan favourites such as the Glee original song Loser Like Me and of course Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.
The album makes a strong and emotional opening statement with the Glee version of Avril Lavigne’s Keep Holding On, performed by Matthew Salling (perhaps better known as Puck on the show). Glee’s strong point has been the ability to put an original twist on songs without changing them too much, which is exemplified in Salling’s version of the emotionally charged ballad.
The mood is lightened with Naya Rivera (Santana) and Heather Morris (Brittany)’s cover of the upbeat and poppy Valerie by The Zutons. The song just exudes a fun and positive vibe, demanding to be sung and danced along with.
Another notable mention is the Matthew Morrison (Will) and Kristen Chenoweth (April) performance of P!nk’s anthemic Raise Your Glass. The two do a great job in serving the huge pop hit justice with energy and enthusiasm that would make P!nk herself proud. The duo prove they make a good team again with their take of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart which lies around the middle of the album.
Following P!nk’s hit is Britney Spears’ Toxic performed by Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, and Dianna Agron (Quinn), which is a solid performance but somewhat lacks that distinctive sultry Spears spirit that oozes from the original version.
Pharrell’s hit Happy gets a Glee style make-over on the album too, featuring Gwyenth Paltrow (as Holly) who accompanies Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss (Blaine) and Amber Riley (Mercedes) in the smooth, high energy cover.
The album winds down with another P!nk cover in Just Give Me a Reason and the iconic Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. This time Dianna Agron teams up with Mark Salling to rework a huge P!nk hit and the two fit together wonderfully. Their sweet sounding voices make for a convincing performance of the emotional ballad.
Perhaps leaving the best for last, the album closes with the new version of Don’t Stop Believing, featuring Lea Michele (Rachel), Darren Criss, Chris Colfer (Kurt), Matthew Morrison, Kevin McHale (Arite) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina) in the melancholy, nostalgic classic. The group pull off the cover well, putting in lots of passion and energy, and managing to avoid over doing it and ending up too cliché or cheesy.
The 100th episode celebration is a must have for all Gleeks and fans of well-produced cover songs. The team did a wonderful job and the song choices were mostly spot on, as were the allocations of who would perform what. The album will likely be a welcome addition to the collection of fan memorabilia as a memento of such an important milestone.