Glee - Topic

Glee: The Music, Vol. 6 Play

Finally, a Glee album that avoids the usual pitfalls -- the overtrained Broadway vets turning pop tunes into stiff Italian arias, Matthew Morrison’s repeated attempts at rapping -- and starts to move beyond karaoke territory. Volume 6 still contains a handful of duds, but it also plays up the show’s creative side. “Rolling in the Deep” is stripped of its Motown arrangement and turned into a minimalist a cappella duet, with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele trading verses over a gospel choir. “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty” combines Leonard Berstein with TLC, turning two seemingly incompatible songs into one of the show’s prettiest tributes to self-acceptance. “Dreams” sticks closer to its source material, but Kristin Chenoweth turns in a surprisingly spot-on Stevie Nicks impression, and Matthew Morrison’s backup harmonies are the stuff of cool restraint. The second half of the album doesn’t fare as well as the first -- in a post Mamma Mia world, do we really need another lackluster version of “Dancing Queen?” -- and some of the tracks could’ve been swapped out for better songs that didn’t make the cut, like Fleetwood Mac’s “I Don’t Wanna Know” (scathingly sung by Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron) and -- believe it or not -- Rebecca Black’s internet hit “Friday” (performed during the prom episode to surprisingly tuneful effect). Like most Glee soundtracks, this one has its homeruns and its strike-outs, but Volume 6 plays a better game than some of its predecessors. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi

Quarterback Play

As lovable quarterback-turned-glee club star Finn, Cory Monteith was such an essential part of Glee that his untimely death in July 2013 had to be mourned in the series' fourth season. The episode "Quarterback" found the show's characters -- and by extension, Glee fans -- grieving his loss and celebrating his memory through song. This EP features some of the episode's most heartfelt musical moments, which included Rent's "Seasons of Love," the Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You," and Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender." ~ Heather Phares, Rovi

Glee: The Music: The Christmas Album, Vol. 4 Play

The 2013 Glee cast EP Glee: The Music: The Christmas Album, Vol. 4 features the cast of the hit Fox television show singing a handful of holiday-themed songs. The album correlates to Glee season five, episode eight, titled Previously Unaired Christmas. Included are such cuts as Gene Autry's "Here Comes Santa Claus," Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Harry Belafonte's "Mary's Little Boy Child," "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Love Child," and the Christmas traditional "Away in a Manger." ~ Matt Collar, Rovi

Glee: the Music: The Complete Season 1 CD Collection Play

Originally released in September 2010 as a mammoth iTunes download, this compilation features virtually every song performed during Glee's first season. Most of the material has been released before, but a few songs that never made it onto a proper Glee album -- including "Hello, I Love You” (arguably Cory Monteith’s best performance of the season), "Highway to Hell," and the Acafellas' hokey rendition of "I Wanna Sex You Up" -- are tossed into the mix, making this an attractive box set for serious Gleeks who are willing to shell out the extra cash. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi

Glee: The Music, Best of Season One Play

Besides the Simon Cowell juggernauts of Pop Idol and The X-Factor, Fox comedy drama Glee has perhaps made more impact on the U.K. charts than any other TV show in history. Forty of the tracks performed in the hit series entered the Top 75, (15 of which made the Top 40), while their first three Glee: The Music volumes reached the upper reaches of the album chart, all within the space of six months. Listed in the order they were featured in the Emmy-nominated show, this U.K.-only compilation gathers 19 of the most popular tracks from their first season, starting with their most iconic number, their cover of Journey's rock classic "Don't Stop Believing," and ending with their version of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's interpretation of "Over the Rainbow." While faithful solo renditions of Rihanna's "Take a Bow," Wicked's signature tune "Defying Gravity," and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" showcase the impressive vocal abilities of stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith, Glee's stand-out moments undoubtedly occur on the epic productions of the ensemble performances. Alongside the show-stopping spectacles of Queen's "Somebody to Love" and Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" from New Directions, the high school glee club at the focus of the show, are two of the album's highlights, courtesy of rival group Vocal Adrenaline, whose covers of Duffy's "Mercy" and Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" turn the '60s retro-soul hits into toe-tapping musical numbers that sound tailor-made for Broadway. Elsewhere, All-American Rejects' revenge-fueled emo anthem "Gives You Hell" is given an infectious, shiny pop makeover, Beyoncé's R&B ballad "Halo" is mashed-up with Katrina & the Waves' '80s hit "Walking on Sunshine" with a surprisingly positive effect, while Idina Menzel stars on the stripped-down, cabaret-style version of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." Of course, with such an extensive selection of songs to choose from, there will be some notable omissions. Luckily, Mr. Schuester's cringe-worthy attempts at hip-hop are neglected, but the hilarious performance of Madonna's "Vogue," from (arguably) the show's most watchable character, Sue Sylvester, and their medley of Usher's "Confessions" and Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" -- one of three singles to make the Top Ten -- seem like rather bizarre exclusions. With its sugary-sweet production, musical theater-esque vocals, and bonus karaoke disc, Glee: The Music - Best of Season One is unlikely to convert anyone previously immune to its undoubted charm, but for the already initiated, it provides a welcome retrospective of one of the biggest cultural hits of the year. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
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