The bigger the song, the brasher the treatment, the better for everyone concerned.
Fraser McAlpine 2010
In the past, the only correct response to a soundtrack album from a hit TV show based in a high school performing arts society would have been to hide in a box and wait for the fever to pass.
However, ever since the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ was rightly run out of town on a rail, there’s been a slackening of the rules about music and what it is allowed to do. In fact, it would be fair to say that there is no longer any such thing as empirically good or bad music, just an infinite variety of personal tastes.
Glee is the personification of this. It treats music to the same “come one, come all” ethos as, well, the Glee club itself. So where the show can boast a multicultural cast of black and white, gay and straight, disabled and able-bodied, their soundtrack is a ragbag of classic rock songs, modern pop songs, show tunes, hip hop bangers and RnB torch songs. And, given the right amount of fairy-dust, they all seem to get along fabulously. The bigger the song, the brasher the treatment, the better for everyone concerned.
The downside of this wealth of material is that they could make this album in a lot of very different ways, and very probably always leave off someone’s very favourite Glee moment. They also have to consider which of the big-hitters to save for Volume 2, so compromises have to be made.
No-one will be disappointed by a Glee album which includes Don’t Stop Believin’ – their chart-eating cover of the Petra Haden arrangement of the Journey song; or Alone, or Gold Digger. But it’s a shame there wasn’t room for their Winehouse-approved upgrade of Rehab; or the stripped-back swing at Bel Biv Devoe’s Poison, as performed by the show’s all-male vocal group Acafellas.
These would probably have lifted the second half of the CD, which loses some of the sparkle and joy once the barn-storming Somebody to Love has finished. Then again, if you put your grand finale in the middle of the show, you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s nowhere left to go once you’ve brought the house down.