Soundtrack | 61 mins
The director’s cut of “Glee’s” pilot aired last May, and by mid-September, you were hooked. With every passing week, you were in a little deeper. Now, you’re a self-proclaimed Gleek and waiting for the next episode just isn’t going cut it. Have no fear, “Glee: The Music” is here; but before you shell out $12 (per disc), consider this:
With any soundtrack (or album) purchase comes a number of expectations; a high replay value, a set of tracks that can stand alone without visuals, and more than a handful of songs worth owning. Many of the tracks of “Glee: The Music” do these well while others simply don’t.
The soundtrack is built upon a very strong set of performers. Lea Michele (Rachel), Matthew Morrison (Mr. Shuester) and Amber Riley (Mercedes) bring the album to life. Morrison’s theater experience shines through with each verse and chorus, emitting a sense of liveliness and emotion in every line. Although he’ll never win a rap-off with his versions of “Gold Digger” and “Bust A Move,” Morrison’s mash-up of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “Young Girl” is the epitome of the show’s creativity and charm. Michele’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade” will likely ensure that her stint on “Spring Awakening” simply cannot be her last time on Broadway. And, the power in Riley’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” will send chills down your spine. Unfortunately, even with all that talent, the soundtrack definitely has its weaknesses.
For one, the vocal abilities of Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson) and Dianna Agron (Quinn Fabray) are nowhere near their co-stars’, and the producers’ choice to highlight them on certain tracks is somewhat questionable. Agron’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” is one of the weakest songs of the soundtrack, leaving the listener an “I’ve had better” feel, and her predominant backing vocals on “Bust A Move” is almost a distraction. As for Monteith’s three solo tracks, they are entirely skippable.
Being the show’s supposed male (teen) superstar, Monteith’s talent is undeniably underdeveloped and weak without Michele or the rest of the cast to bail him out. (And he’s featured in 14 out of the 34 releases, second only to Michele’s 19!) His vocals may fit classic rock songs such as “Don’t Stop Believing,” but other than that, they are suited for little more than an autotuned and robotic backing vocal track. I’d rather hear more from the cast’s underrated members: Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina) and Mark Salling (Puck) whose solos, respectively “True Colors” and “Sweet Caroline,” show more tonal control and promise.
Like the show, “Glee: The Music” is sickeningly sweet yet charming, but surprisingly, one of the soundtrack’s downfalls is believed to be one of the show’s strengths: it’s underproduced. Although the unpolished arrangements are effective when accompanied by visuals and amusing story lines, the simple and all-too-clean instrumentals don’t leave much for musical depth.
And while we’re on the subject of “clean,” songs like “Gold Digger” undergo massive omissions. Isn’t that what Disney Channel is for? This only reinforces the kiddie bop impression that resonates when combed with the co-ed choruses. (Doubtful? Just listen to “My Life Would Suck Without You.”)
This soundtrack is a must-have for hardcore Gleeks who plan on collecting every track with a dedication that would put Star Wars memorabilia collectors to shame. (By the way, bonus tracks are available for download on iTunes.) For those of you with a mild appreciation, just wait for the DVD release to experience the full entertainment value; and, in the meantime, a few music downloads may suffice. Or, if you’re like me, you could just wait until a family member purchases the complete soundtrack.