'Glee' singers find new voices with old favorites
Last night's "Glee" episode, "Laryngitis," was an eclectic hodgepodge of genres that left me speechless at certain points. From show tunes to Bono, the cast rendered a buffet of choices, offering a little something for everyone.
The opener, "Jessie's Girl" (written by Rick Springfield) was an upbeat and spirited performance by Cory Monteith (Finn). While the song itself was a painfully obvious selection for Finn, I thought the vocals were some of the best we've heard from Monteith. I'm always impressed when Finn gets behind the kit ... there's just something about drummer boys. Mmm. The arrangement stuck pretty close to the 1981 original, a common thread throughout the episode.
The next number, "The Lady is a Tramp" (from the Rodgers and Hart musical "Babes in Arms"), has been performed and recorded by some of the finest vocalists in the industry. While Mark Salling (Puck) may not have the longevity of Ella or Frank just yet, I thought the vocals were absolutely on par with the jazz masters. Salling has an impressive range, and ideal vowel formations. He also has the innate ability to know when to settle into a note, releasing his vibrato. Timing is everything, people.
Amber Riley (Mercedes) was equally outstanding. Her bluesy style blended perfectly with Salling, and her vocal control always fascinates me. She definitely made the eighth-note octave jumps seem waaay easier than they are.
"Tramp" was by far the best performance of the show, every aspect from choreography to vocals gets a gold star in my book. As an aside, I'm pretty sure Salling would totally rock a Michael BublÃ© song, and I think that needs to happen -- stat.
"The Boy is Mine" (by Brandy and Monica) was performed by Riley and Naya Rivera (Santana). The R&B duet was almost an exact replica of the original, and while the vocalists sang it well, this number just didn't impress me. The song fit Riley's voice well, but then again, I think she could sing the phone book and sound amazing. While I'm generally a fan of Rivera's voice, I felt a tad awkward watching her perform beside Riley. It's not that she doesn't have a great instrument -- she does -- but last night she paled in comparison to the soulful wailings of Riley. Perhaps a different genre would suit her better, and better showcase her talents.
Chris Colfer (Kurt) totally lit up the stage with his cover of "Rose's Turn" from the Broadway musical "Gypsy." His acting alone deserves major kudos, and when you pair it with the right song magical things happen. I loved the angst and frustration in his tone, a new yet welcome side of Kurt. Great vocalist. Great song. Win.
The closing number, U2's "One," was one of the only numbers last night that embraced the idea of re-arranging songs to specifically fit "Glee." It was performed by Lea Michelle (Rachel) and Monteith and was powerfully charming. The song fit the singer's voices extremely well, and I totally adored the choir-inspired bridge. Overall, this was a strong number. Counter melodies and choral structure clearly suit "Glee."