The young singers nail these interpretations with pin-point accuracy.
Adrian Edwards 2010
The American import Glee has been gaining channel E4’s highest ratings – over a million viewers – since it debuted in January. So it’s no surprise that a second CD of numbers from the show should arrive, featuring over a dozen cover versions of pop songs, standards and show tunes performed by this cast of wannabes, transformed in the storyline into a tip-top vocal ensemble.
Some tracks feature all the principal characters, like the invigorating opener, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary. Others are sung as solos and duets – here, some of the young cast may catch you off guard with their sweet, touching manners. Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele intertwine gracefully on Lionel Richie’s Endless Love, and Morrison takes a solo spot on Don’t Stand So Close To Me, which segues into Young Girl as though the two songs were conceived as one. Michele, the disc’s standout star, duets with the versatile Cory Monteith on Smile, a cover of the Lily Allen song, where she negotiates the awkward lyric like a pro; they then offer a fresh and most appealing version of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, which sounds newly minted in their hands.
Michele’s spirited take on Don’t Rain on My Parade, backed by a Broadway show band, has an authentic ring of showbiz about it. In the final bars, she and her band pull back the tempo to a challenging degree before a defiant last note. It sends out a signal that this is no carbon copy of the Streisand version, found on the soundtrack of Funny Girl. Another show stopper, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, gets a full-on vocal from Amber Riley as befits its dramatic context in Dreamgirls. She shines again on Don’t Make Me Over, a 60s classic from Bacharach and David where beehive hairdos and mini-skirts bob up before your eyes. The simplicity of Riley’s approach to John Lennon’s Imagine is unexpectedly appealing.
The bright, fresh energy of the entire cast in numbers like Jump is a great example of the pin-point accuracy of this singing ensemble. Encore, please, for a third outing!