Glee Cast Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna Review

Soundtrack. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

It’s starting to look as if Glee is inventing its own alternate reality.

Fraser McAlpine 2010

It’s starting to look as if Glee is inventing its own alternate reality, similar to our own in almost every way, except all music is slightly gussied up, and sung in plummier voices.

Madonna’s music already runs at a fairly high level of gussy, so these seven songs, taken from a one-off episode, are incredibly faithful to the originals. Apart from the precise, Broadway diction of the singers, every last breath, beat, spoken aside and synth stab on this special EP (Glee-P, anyone?) has been painstakingly recreated from the source material.

At its best, it’s a loving homage; at worst it’s like the re-made pop music retailers play in shops to avoid paying proper royalties. The closer to verisimilitude they get, the more you notice the things that aren’t quite right. Express Yourself and Like a Prayer, for example, are so faithful to Madonna’s versions that there’s a hole where her voice should be. It’s unsettling.

When they mash-up Borderline and Open Your Heart by juxtaposing segments of the song in a haphazard fashion, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the musical directors are a little out of their depth. Having said that, the decision to get all the boys to sing What It Feels Like for a Girl is inspired, and represents a genuinely powerful musical moment that doesn’t need the TV show’s plot to make it fly.

Which is the point at which all criticism of Glee’s music falls down, really. As they are essentially photocopies of the originals, the songs depend on the context of the show to make sense.  So listening to the album on musical merits alone is close to pointless.

Then again, why would anyone be listening to this without having seen the show?

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