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We look back at the show's most rocking (and sometimes stinking) musical numbers

Shaun Harrison
glee-performances-dont-stop-believin.jpg
1 of 51 Carin Baer/FOX

Trying to pick the best and worst performances on Glee hurts. It just does. Hundreds of songs have been given that special New Directions touch, and many -- many -- memorable numbers didn't make the cut. "Push It," "Proud Mary" and "Keep Holding On," we still salute you! "Single Ladies," we're sorry, but no one actually sang you. Also, "Don't Stop Believin'" is obviously the clear winner in all-time best Glee performances, so we didn't include it in our list. (Hey, it bought us space for one more "best!") But enough lamenting: without further ado, the best and worst from Glee's first four seasons so far...

2 of 51 Frank Micelotta/FOX

BEST

"Rumor Has It/Someone Like You" Season 3
How do you make Adele, the most overplayed artist in the country world, sound fresh? By mashing up two of her most diverse hits. This Troubletones set was one of Glee's biggest hits, debuting at No. 11 on the Billboard singles chart, and Naya Rivera's most moving performances, as her character deals with being unceremoniously outed as a lesbian by Finn.

3 of 51 Fox

WORST

"Ben" Season 3
Not "I'll Be There." Not "Will You Be There" from Free Willy. No, of all the Michael Jackson songs for Rachel, Kurt and Finn to sing to an eye-patched Blaine, producers picked this schmaltzy ballad from a movie about a trained killer rat. Next time, say it with flowers.

4 of 51 FOX

BEST

"Not the Boy Next Door" Season 3
Who do you think you are, Carmen Tibideaux? Despite choking during her audition, Rachel gets into NYADA; Kurt - gold pants and all - does not. There is no way to explain this, other than good old-fashioned melodrama, but either way, fans are still treated to one of Kurt's most electric performances, in which he channels Hugh Jackman's Boy from Oz energy and dance moves atop a piano. After years of struggle, Kurt comes full circle with his sexuality... in song.

5 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Dinosaur" Season 3
We know what you're thinking: But this song fits the title and prom theme so perfectly! Too bad no one ever explained why Brittany voted for a dinosaur-themed prom or why she insisted on trading in her prom dress -- one of the most important dresses in a young girl's life -- for some strategically placed loincloth? We want answers!

6 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

BEST

"I Will Always Love You" Season 3
For better or worse, this song unintentionally becomes much more than just Mercedes' kiss-off to ex-boyfriend Sam when, just days before the performance was set to air, Whitney Houston died suddenly at the age of 48. Although Amber Riley had to compete with many other Houston tributes (hello, Jennifer Hudson!), she holds her own with this bare-bones arrangement.

7 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Fix You" Season 3
Months before The Newsroom bashed it into our skull, Glee has Will sing this weepy Coldplay song immediately after Emma's "ginger supremacist" parents put her down and worsen her OCD dramatically. Isn't the message supposed to be that Will will love and accept Emma no matter how bad her condition gets? Ick.

8 of 51 Fox

BEST

"We Are the Champions" Season 3
The Season 3 finale featured many farewell tunes, but none were more triumphant or beautiful than the Queen track the seniors sang to Will after they won Nationals. From Finn to Quinn, the song let everyone's special vocal talents shine through, and their harmonies were a powerful, painful remainder of the voices and faces that Glee fans would be missing the next season.

9 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Red Solo Cup" Season 3
Really? Is this what Chord Overstreet was brought back for? Sure, we also got to see his "White Chocolate" dance moves, and his performance of this Toby Keith ditty was funny, but it did nada for Sam's vocals. Take a sip from that red Solo cup so we can all pretend this never happened.

10 of 51 FOX

BEST

"Something Stupid" Season 4
Sam and Brittany are known for saying stupid things, but this whimsical duet between the new lovebirds was anything but. Despite many dubbing their pairing the "Brampocalypse," this sweet oldie proved the two could dance, crack jokes and make beautiful music together. In a season chock-full of highly choreographed top 40 hits, this simple song was a breath of fresh air.

11 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Starships/Pinball Wizard" Season 3
Anyone who thinks Nationals was in any way rigged in favor of the New Directions just has to listen -- and look at -- this disastrous, distracting double set to see why Rachel Berry & Co. took the crown. It's also no wonder that Unique switched teams after being given such bad material.

12 of 51 FOX

BEST

"Make You Feel My Love," Season 5
Rachel Berry -- and Lea Michele -- did just that, and so much more, with her heart-wrenching performance in Finn's goodbye episode. Several of the songs from this painful hour made the best list -- and with good reason. The raw emotions, heartbreak, confusion and grief on display in the cast's vocals is unmatched, none more so than Rachel's as she stood in front of the choir room singing a special song to her and Michele's real-life late true love.

13 of 51 Jordin Althaus/FOX

WORST

"Gangnam Style" Season 4
They did Gaga. They did Britney. But did they have to do Psy? We're used to having to suspend our disbelief for Glee, but making viewers think that the glee club, led by Finn, we might add, would actually try to win Sectionals with a Korean pop song performed to a wildly inappropriate dance was just too out there. If this isn't a cry for Mr. Schue's help, we don't know what is.

14 of 51 Fox

BEST

"(You Drive Me) Crazy/ Crazy" Season 4
A Britney Spears tribute episode? Been there, done that. Fortunately, the producers weren't afraid to infuse the hour with some classic Aerosmith, which made a memorable combination years after it seemed the best mash-ups were behind Glee. The song not only featured a beautiful arrangement, but proved a fitting introduction for lovestruck McKinley newbies Marley and Jake.

15 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Let's Have a Kiki/Turkey Lurkey Time" Season 4
One part Scissor Sisters, one part traditional Broadway tune. Add a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, drag queens and Sarah Jessica Parker and mix liberally. It's a recipe that only Glee could attempt. It might not have been delicious, but it was ambitious.

16 of 51 Michael Yarish/Fox

BEST

"Safety Dance" Season 1
In a show about underdogs with big dreams, none has been as soul-crushing as Artie's: permanently bound in his wheelchair, he just wants to dance. So it was both awesome and heart-wrenching when, for one smashing, show-stopping dream sequence, he got to get down with the get down -- flash mob-style -- to Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance." It doesn't hurt that Kevin McHale once belonged to a boy band and happens to have moves that rival those of Harry Shum, Jr.

17 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Physical" Season 1,
Someone please remind us why Olivia Newton John was even in Lima, Ohio? And why she agreed to remake her seminal '80s music video with a cheerleading coach? And why there were SO. MANY. BUTTS?! Coach had already remade one classic music video -- Madonna's "Vogue -- earlier in the season, but unfortunately what "Physical" lacked in a sense of humor, style and spot-on choreography, it decided to make up for with the heavy presence of Auto-Tune and barely clothed beefcakes who look like they were pulled from an audition from the Conan remake.

18 of 51 Michael Yarish/Fox

BEST

"Somebody to Love" Season 1
Sure, Glee struck magic once with "Don't Stop Believin,'" but could lightning strike twice? The group performance of the beloved Queen song answers with a resounding yes. Although Rachel and Finn take the respective leads once again, the rendition proves the club -- complete with new members Quinn, Brittany, Santana, Puck, Mike and Matt -- can really make beautiful music together as a group.

19 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

WORST

"Blurred Lines" Season 5
Mr. Schue, aka Matthew Morrison, does a great job of hitting all of Robin Thicke's high notes. But why on Earth is a high school glee club director singing lyrics like "I know you want it" to his underage students who are grinding up on each other? It didn't help matters that this performance came right as everyone was not just sick of the song, but hearing about Thicke and Miley Cyrus' VMA performance. This is one of the few instances where we're glad Sue became principal to whip the halls of McKinley High into shape.

20 of 51 Fox

BEST

"Landslide" Season 2
Certain performances call for big arrangements, complicated choreography and flashy costumes, while others simply need Gwyneth Paltrow and a guitar. This performance was not only a great showcase for Paltrow's pipes, but also an emotionally wrenching milestone in Brittany and Santana's continued struggle to figure out their feelings (friends or otherwise) for one another.

21 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Sing!" Season 2
We don't mind Coach Sue showing us her softer side -- but only when it includes her sister or Becky, and never for too long. So it was painful to sit through her visit to the children's hospital with Mr. Schuester and his ukulele, and then having her join New Directions in a weirdly lifeless rendition of My Chemical Romance's not-even-that-great-to-begin-with "Sing!" Just... no.

22 of 51 Fox

BEST

"Maybe This Time" Season 1
Before people started complaining about all of Glee's guest stars (and people, we only count Neil Patrick Harris, Idina Menzel, John Stamos and Gwyneth Paltrow as the biggies) Kristin Chenoweth swept us off our musical theatre-loving feet as April Rhodes, a former McKinley High show choir star-turned-Lima lush. Both her own crushed dreams -- and Rachel's hopeful-but-lonesome ones -- are beautifully, plaintively realized in Cabaret's "Maybe This Time." Put that in your pipe and smoke it, indeed.

23 of 51

WORST

"Werewolves of London," Season 5
First, let us remind you of the premise of the episode: In order to salvage her reputation, Rachel and her publicist Santana start a dog rescue charity. Sam adopts a dog from the charity without asking Mercedes, kicking off an entire number revolving around Sam and Artie walking the dog, teaching the dog tricks and, most importantly, washing the dog/giving him a Mohawk. Time would've been much better spent showcasing Sam's wonderful impressions. We can never get these two minutes and 13 seconds back!

24 of 51 FOX

BEST

"I'll Stand By You," Season 1Any teenage boy would be completely freaked out about having a kid, but few would be able to put it to song like Finn did. After coming to grips with Quinn's impending arrival - which ended up not being his anyway - McKinley High's star quarterback slowly but surely came around to embrace his unborn child and sang this classic to the sonogram. When Finn died in Season 5, Mercedes paid tribute to her friend with this tune in an equally tearjerker of a performance.

25 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

WORST

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" Season 1
This rendition hit the wrong notes on so many levels. First of all, Quinn never had the right range to pull the song off and her high notes sounded far more screeching than soothing. Luckily Unfortunately, the only thing to detract from Quinn's raw vocals was her unfortunate band of dancing pregnant teens who used their budding bellies as props and cooed Lamaze-esque breathing noises in between verses. Teen pregnancy has never looked and sounded so miserable.

26 of 51 Adam Rose/Fox

BEST

"Bohemian Rhapsody" Season 1
Oh, Jesse St. James, with your good looks, rock god vocals and Broadway bravado... of course there was no way New Directions was going to win at Regionals. The number was a climax for both the gleebots of Vocal Adrenaline and Quinn, who was seen giving birth while Jesse stomped around center stage.

Adam Rose/FOX

27 of 51 FOX

WORST

"I Know What Boys Like" Season 2
It's no secret that Sue can't really carry a tune, but you don't see her getting many solos. So why is Lauren Zizes standing in front of the New Directions asking them to love her (apologies) horrible voice? The song was supposed to symbolize the New Directions' latest addition overcoming her fear of performing, but instead painted her as an untalented wannabe willing to do anything (i.e. nearly suffocate Artie with her boobs) to get attention. And again, what's with the butts?

28 of 51 FOX

BEST

"Mine," Season 4As Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and so many others can attest to, breakups make for great music. This episode, which saw basically all of the show's beloved couples (Finn and Rachel, Kurt and Blaine, Santana and Brittany) split, is no different. While most of the kids faced more black-and-white issues like cheating and unwelcome third parties, Brittana's struggle to stay together despite their distance and their increasing life differences was a much more realistic depiction of the difficulties of relationships. They may have called it quits (temporarily), but Santana's beautiful acoustic take on this Taylor Swift hit showed just how much love these two had left.

29 of 51 FOX

WORST

"I Could Have Danced All Night" Season 1
We're as big a Will and Emma 'shipper as the next Gleek (especially compared to crazy Terri), but having poor Jayma Mays belt out this Broadway tune while her character tried on her wedding dress felt forced and ruined one of the will-they-won't-they couple's first truly romantic moments together on-screen. Looking back, we would have much preferred the sound of silence.

30 of 51 Fox

BEST

"Teenage Dream" Season 2
Just when America thought they couldn't hear Katy Perry croon about her skintight jeans one more time, Glee does the impossible and makes the overplayed radio hit not only new again, but completely addictive. The song is one of the series' biggest hits thanks to its perfect blend of new (Top 40) and old (a cappella arrangement) and also serves as one heck of a welcome wagon for fan favorite-in-the-making Blaine.

31 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Imagine" Season 1
Having the New Directions join the Haverbrook Deaf Choir in "Imagine" just seemed so obvious not to mention cheap. And awful. Like, our hearts are already warmed by these hapless, often luckless underdogs -- there's no need to pour on extra sap. Nonsense, the whole scene.

32 of 51 Michael Yarish/FOX

BEST

"I'm a Slave 4 U" Season 2
|In truth, our favorite number from the Britney Spears extravaganza was the sexed-up, stripped-down "Toxic." (Oh, pipe down Mr. Schue haters -- he belonged on that stage with the kids.) On the other hand, respect must be paid to Heather Morris, who also made her singing debut in this episode. The truth is, she didn't even need to sing to deliver a rump-shaking performance that surely had Britney herself green with jealousy.

33 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Gimme More" Season 4
One of the first episodes of the Glee 2.0 era, Britney 2.0, delivered several forgettable renditions of songs from the pop queen's catalogue (see: "Hold It Against Me," "Everytime"). However, "Gimme More" was by far the most pointless/borderline offensive. Why? It did too good of a job copying Britney's train wreck of a "performance" at the 2007 VMAs. Just like her idol, Brittany S. Pierce couldn't lip-sync or dance to save her life, and even worse, Brittany did the whole performance while stuffing her face with cheesy puffs and gulping soda. It's safe to say this might be Glee's most sickening number ever.

34 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

BEST

"I Know Where I've Been," Season 6For all of its inconsistencies, Glee has always tried to give a voice to everyone, especially the marginalized. One of the most moving story lines of the show's sixth and final season was McKinley High football coach Shannon Beiste's decision to transition to a man. It culminated with this inspiring performance by Unique, backed by the Transpersons Choir, to properly welcome Sheldon back.

35 of 51 FOX

WORST

"You're My Best Friend," Season 5Sure, "Blainey Days" has a voice "as smooth as a baby's butt," as puppet Unique declared in this tripped-out dream sequence. But Blaine's solid singing is completely wiped out by the sheer fact that he is singing to puppets, which was equal parts distracting and ridiculous. At least Darren Criss now has a handy audition tape for Sesame Street?

36 of 51 Michael Yarish/FOX

BEST

"Dream On" Season 1
After establishing himself as network TV's premier white rapper thanks to "Golddigger" and "Bust a Move," Mr. Schue finally gets the chance to show off his impressive vocal abilities on this electrifying classic. Matthew Morrison is perfectly matched with Neil Patrick Harris in an episode that shows Glee knows how to get the big guest stars and how to use them. Dream on, indeed!

37 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Baby One More Time" Season 2
Usually, Lea Michele kills it, every single time. From Barbra and Celine, to Madonna and Lily Allen, she can do no wrong. So it was stunning -- and frankly, painful -- when she flopped with Britney's "Baby One More Time." We'll just blame whoever told her to sing it the way she did. Surely it wasn't her choice.

38 of 51 FOX

BEST

"Hell to the No," Season 2Sure, Glee put out catchier tunes ("Loser Like Me") and more heavy-handed ballads ("Get It Right"). But neither quite packed the punch or encompassed the wit that is Glee better than Mercedes' anti-Sue battle cry. In her quest to regain her tater tots, and subsequently her freedom, Mercedes delivered a truly memorable tune. After all, how many songs rhyme "diabetes" and "Wheaties"? It's no surprise that this was the original song that really went the distance and managed to help get Mercedes discovered by Kimye in Season 5.

39 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Friday I'm in Love," Season 6Even Rachel acknowledged to Mr. Schue that she and the rest of the returning alumni hadn't paid much attention to the new new kids. So why were viewers forced to care that the absolute least charismatic of the youngins, and the meanest, has a crush? And it wasn't just viewers who failed to connect. Spencer's heart clearly wasn't in the performance, which was pitchy and hollow and just an all-around mess. Lesson learned? Let the masters do the heavy lifting and leave the new class to fill space in the choir room.

40 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

BEST

"Seasons of Love," Season 5How did it take five seasons for the show to cover this Broadway mainstay? This touching ensemble performance united the old guards and new kids of New Directions for one common purpose: to eulogize Finn after his sudden death. This sad yet uplifting opening number - thanks in no small part to Mercedes - set the tone for the episode and marked arguably the show's best ensemble song during the later years, and one of the few that combined the old cast members and new.

41 of 51 Michael Yarish/FOX

WORST

"With You I'm Born Again" Season 2
Maybe we're still just missing something here: In order to throw Mr. Schuester's contest and sing a God-awful duet, Rachel and Finn decide to dress as a nun and a priest and sing the drippy ballad "With You I'm Born Again." It's supposed to be really offensive, but it didn't have us howling or wincing. It just kind of landed with a thud in the middle of an otherwise amazing episode (which included one of the best and sassiest versions of "River Deep, Mountain High" ever.)

42 of 51 Tyler Golden/FOX

BEST

"NYC," Season 5The show's penultimate season struggled to find ways to put the McKinley High employees to good use while the alums were off pursuing their dreams in the Big Apple. But when Sue traveled to New York for Rachel's big opening night on Broadway, it led to this sweet, understated and harmonious performance. It was arguably one of Sue's best songs ever, and with good reason -- Jane Lynch was getting ready to perform this Annie hit on the Great White Way as Miss Hannigan (even more coincidentally, a role also played by her Glee TV mom Carol Burnett).

43 of 51 FOX

WORST

"The Final Countdown," Season 6
Honestly? We feel a little bad putting so many Sue songs in the worst category. But one look at this picture will tell you everything you need to know. Sue and Schue. Battling it out. Again! This time, they did it while singing an Auto-tune-heavy cover of this forgettable '80s hit, complete with atrocious wigs and truly unfortunate outfits from the era. The only thing working in favor of this eyesore was the juxtaposition of how Sue and Schue pictured their epic duet versus how Rachel, Kurt, and the rest of the horrified glee clubbers saw them: as pathetic, all-consumed losers.

44 of 51 Fox

BEST

"Hate on Me" Season 1
Mercedes has had many standing O moments, and many would say that her "And I Am Telling You" was the hands-down highlight. We prefer her with more attitude. It was tough choosing, with "Bust Ya Windows" and her duet with Kurt, "4 Minutes," in the mix, but ultimately, her mad-fierce take on Jill Scott's "Hate On Me" emerged as the real favorite. Why? Because Mercedes began this show by declaring she "ain't no Kelly Rowland," and this performance was a real Beyonce moment.

45 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Home" Season 1
In theory it makes sense: If you've got Kristin Chenoweth on deck, you use her as much as possible. But after performing everything from classic rock and country to Motown and Broadway, April Rhodes' final song paled in comparison to its predecessors and lacked the fireworks she brought to duets like "Fire" and "Last Name." Next time, April, go big or go home.

46 of 51 Carin Baer/FOX

BEST

"Don't Rain on My Parade" Season 1
Don't rain on Barbra's parade and don't tell Rachel Berry she can't compete at Sectionals. Sure, Rachel has let her talent go to her head (just ask the rest of New Directions), but watching this performance is a reminder of why she's a star. She has the voice, she has the stage presence and -- just when it looks like the glee club isn't going to pull through -- she has the drive to bring them back to life with one hair-raising, heartwarming solo number. Glee has done Broadway many times, but rarely better than this.

47 of 51 FOX

WORST

"Beth" Season 1
Remember when Finn sang Paul Anka's super hokey "You're Having My Baby" to Quinn in front of her super-conservative parents? Remember laughing, because as lame as that song was, it was funny? The lesson here is that it's OK to use lesser material if it provokes a reaction. Any reaction. Listening to Puck sing the ballad "Beth" -- and we had to look up that it was originally sung by the band KISS, because otherwise, what the heck is "Beth"? -- just left us puzzled as to how, of all the songs in the world with a girl's name in the title, the producers picked this unknown, uninspired trifle.

48 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

BEST

"I'm the Only One," Season 3It's no secret that Puck got around back in the day, but when McKinley High's former resident bad boy fell for Shelby, aka his ex-girlfriend Rachel's biological mother and the adopted mother of his daughter Beth, he fell hard. He put his tortured emotions to song in this angsty and raw rendition of Melissa Etheridge's hit that he sang as part of the glee club's efforts to get Santana to accept herself as a lesbian. Few (read: no one) approved of the forbidden Puck-Shelby romance, but at least it sounded good.

49 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

WORST

"Drive My Car," Season 5There are so many things wrong with this performance. Why did it take five seasons to do a Beatles tribute? And, most importantly, why did Artie and Kitty have to sing this song while driving bumper cars?! For all the great Beatles song Glee covered over the year: most notably Kurt's moving "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in Season 2, this one was a visual and audible abomination.

50 of 51 FOX

BEST

"We Are Young," Season 3
fun., who? Glee featured this catchy anthem right before it became an inescapable sensation. But the real reason this tune was such a standout was because of how many of the glee club members were given time in the spotlight. In addition to frequent solo hogs Rachel and Finn, Quinn, Sam, Santana and Mercedes can all be heard loud and clear in this emotional performance following The Troubletones' triumphant reunion with the rest of the New Directions. Sure, there were ensemble performances that were more perfectly harmonized or more elaborately choreographed, but few tunes serviced so much of the cast so well.

51 of 51 Adam Rose/FOX

WORST

"The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)," Season 5When Glee misses the mark, it throws the dart at least 10 feet away from the target. Case in point: Two of the show's all-time worst performances from the same ill-advised episode revolving around Blaine and his new "friends." Like many song choices in the first half of Season 5, the New Directions chose to cover this viral sensation right when it hit peak saturation, aka when everyone was utterly sick of it. Even worse, it was a sheer copycat, offering nothing new, and had nothing to do with the episode, or story lines, or anything. Plus: It featured the glee club dressed as animals. All we can ask is why?!?!