The brain-craving Glee kids win! Sorry, Will.I.Am. Even with all the neon and the extras — including assists from Slash and Usher — Glee brought it big time with a mash-up of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll." Also, I'm biased.
But was Sunday's entire post-Super Bowl episode a win, musically speaking? Let's dissect the five performances:
The Cheerios light their bikini tops on fire for Katy Perry's "California Gurls." Would I be banned by my fellow Gleeks if I said I agreed with Sue when she summed up the opening number's blue wigs, hula hoops and bikers with "I'm bored"? Maybe it was the lack of singing (the girls performed to Perry's vocals)? Maybe it was that I'd read so much — too much — about the number before the show aired? Maybe it was deliberately flat, a plot device to force Coach Sue to buy her Sue-clear weapon? In any case, just an OK way to open the episode.
Puckleberry makes Finn jealous by singing Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now." Not that I'm rooting for a Puck and Rachel reunion, but their sparks are undeniable, and their simply sung take on the overplayed radio hit was like the perfect antidote to the Cheerios opener. Here's the Glee I've been missing for the last month. Just stand in that classroom and sing, kids. If you recall, my favorite numbers from Season 2 are: "River Deep Mountain High," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," the mash-up of "Happy Days Are Here Again"/"Get Happy." I like the razzle-dazzle stage stuff as much as any fan, but I really like the intimate, emotional moments that come out of the class numbers too.
The guys practice for halftime/lament the loss of Quinn by performing The Zombies' "She's Not There." Loved the choreography and its stiff, dislocated limb-swinging. Loved that every single guy — football players included — went full zombie for it. Even Karofsky stomped up a storm in the back row! Of all the numbers in Sunday's episode, it felt most like a performance you might see in a real high school, stripped of background explosions, flashy arrangements, and divas. Bonus: Finn sounded great. (But Artie's makeup frightened me — I won't lie.)
The Warblers are nothing if not competitive. This time they are readying Destiny's Child "Bills, Bills, Bills." What's not to like? But here's my minor quibble: Kurt ain't no Kelly Rowland (to paraphrase Mercedes.) There's no doubting that Blaine is talented, kind of like the high school's own Matthew Morrison (if only he'd rap again!). But given the Warblers' intricate and complex arrangements, shouldn't we hear from others? Say, his multi-talented, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" partner Kurt? And as much as I enjoy dropping in on Dalton Academy, I'd like to see those guys outside of rehearsal. Kurt can't just be singing backup all day!
The undead rise for Michael Jackson's "Thriller"/Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll." This was definitely one of Glee's better mash-ups, a raucous show-stopper that I can find no fault with. I remember feeling the same urge to cheer during Season 1's "Four Minutes." The exceptional energy of Mike and Brittany never fail to impress during the splashy numbers, although I would have preferred less spazzy camera work so I could get better a better overview of the choreography on the field. (I say this having just rewatched Glee's pilot episode. "Rehab" is still so super-impressive without any of the hoopla. Just give me a wide angle and the moves.)
What did you think of the performances? Sound off in the comments below.