Glee Music: Episode 7 - The Substitute

Jonathan reviews the music from Episode 7 of Glee.This week we learned that while the cat (Mr. Schue) is away, the mice (the New Directions kids) will play. Ok, and so will the cat, with his cat ex-wife; but this is where the analogy breaks down, so let's move on to the music review, shall we?

When Will gets sick, Gwyneth Paltrow (she's asked me to call her G-Pal) guest-stars in this week's episode as the substitute Spanish teacher, and subsequent New Directions director, Holly Holliday. This episode parallels nicely with last season's episode, "The Rhodes Not Taken," in which Broadway veteran Kristin Chenoweth captivated our TV screens with a power solo, a classic Broadway duet with Rachel, and a stunning duet with Will.

In Tuesday's episode, G-Pal broke it down with Cee-lo's PG-rated "Forget You," performed a classic Broadway duet with Rachel ("Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag"), and mashed up with Will in "Singin' in the Rain/Umbrella." We also got what felt like a bonus performance of Will and Mike Chang in "Make 'Em Laugh." While the dream-sequence felt like a disruption of the episode's pacing, and wasn't all that musically impressive, it was visually entertaining nevertheless. Besides, since Will was bed-ridden for pretty much the entire episode, I felt he earned the musical "Inception"-like moment.

The highlight for me regarding this week's music is that it stayed in tune with what makes Glee great as a show. Glee shines when it doesn't cater to one group or another, but stays true to its quirky, Broadway-loving, self. The music, while good, becomes great because of the context in which it is performed, and by whom it is performed. So, at its best, the emotional response to Glee's music can't be separated from the characters singing them, or from Zach Woodlee's enthralling choreography.

Instead of replaying most of this week's music on iTunes, I'll be re-watching the clips to see fantastic off-the-wall (literally) back-flips, Fosse-inspired "rakes" and "drips," and water being splashed and kicked across the stage in dazzling light. Glee's music is as much an indulgence in the visual experience as it is in the audible one, and in "The Substitute," I wouldn't take one over the other.
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Buyer Recommendation: Once again, save your money on "Forget You," which comes out on Glee: The Music, Volume 4 on November 30th; and buy the "Singin' in the Rain/Umbrella" mash-up instead.

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