A strong final collection of first season music.
S. Curley | Charlottetown, PE, Canada | 06/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The smash-hit musical TV series "Glee" releases its fifth musical compilation, "Journey to Regionals", which is the second of the five albums to focus solely on the music of a single episode (the previous being volume three, all from "The Power of Madonna"). And indeed, if any single episode of the series were to deserve that honour, I don't think any would merit it more than the first season finale, "Journey", which sends the Glee cast to their Regional championship and features a set of six excellent numbers.
New Directions delivers a full set of three new numbers here, all by the classic rock band Journey (hence, the episode title; they're subtle, these writers). The collection opens with a rendition of "Faithfully" (originally from the 1983 album "Frontiers"), with series stars Lea Michele (Rachel) and Cory Monteith (Finn) singing the duet (everybody else on backing, which really isn't the sort of thing you'd sing in a show choir competition, but whatever, that's not important here). Michele is the powerhouse of the series; Monteith started out rather weak, but he's grown by leaps and bounds over the last year, and he acquits himself well. The two just have chemistry, and it comes through in their song (if you're invested in Finn and Rachel as a couple, that helps too).
Next up, a mash-up of "Any Way You Want It" (1980's album "Departure") and "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" (1979's "Evolution") performed by the whole group, again with Finn and Rachel singing the lead. "Glee" has always done group mash-ups well (the gold standard being "Halo"/"Walking On Sunshine", in my opinion), and this one continues that trend. It's the most purely fun number in the collection, and one of the best the show has done on that score as well.
New Directions closes out its bid for the title with a new version of "Don't Stop Believin'" (1981's "Escape"). This is a bit of a risky move for the series in some ways; they covered it already in the pilot, and it's probably the show's defining song. Here, instead of Michele and Monteith dueting again, the producers mix in several other singers from the group (only Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina) and Dianna Agron (Quinn) are omitted). The results are frankly terrific. I don't know which version of the song I like more as yet, but they're both great; especially great is Naya Rivera (Santana), who has rapidly become one of my favourite voices on the show.
Then there is the big showstopper by New Directions' main competition, Vocal Adrenaline, who deliver an excellent cover of Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975's "A Night at the Opera"). Now, this will never be anything other than a Queen song, with talent like Freddie Mercury involved, but Broadway star Jonathan Groff gives it his best go, and it's a very admirable one at that. The non-competition numbers that follow are quieter: a rendition of "To Sir, With Love" (from the 1967 film of the same name, and most famously recorded by Lulu) featuring most of the group's female vocalists and Chris Colfer (Kurt) (again omitting Agron) is nicely handled. Then Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuester) and Mark Salling (Puck) deliver a charming rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (based on the 1993 ukulele version by Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, not the 1939 Judy Garland one) to send us off until next season.
All in all, it's a very strong collection of songs, and if you're a fan of "Glee"'s music, this is the album to buy."
Glee finale ends on a high note
John R. Wantiez | 06/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree this collection may not carry the same weight for those unfamiliar with the "Glee" phenom as it does for Gleeks like myself, but even a casual listener can appreciate the justice the cast does for the material presented. The cast shines on each track, particularly the acappella strains of "Bohemian Rhapsody." However, this is worth it alone just for the brilliant version Lulu's "To Sir With Love.""
'Journey to Regionals' EP [REVIEW]
Antoine D. Reid | Durham, NC United States | 06/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A few weeks ago, Fox released Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (Deluxe). My first question with that release was if Fox had spoiled the end of the season by releasing tracks that would appear in the finale. Luckily, that wasn't the case because Fox held off and saved the songs featured in the finale for its own release. Glee: The Music - Journey to Sectionals features (perhaps) all of the musical numbers featured in the season 1 finale. If you want to be surprised, buy the music but don't listen to it until after you've seen the episode. Some of the tracks may either leave your mind racing as you're bound to read into the lyrics and song choices to figure out where the tracks will fit into the finale. Or, you may not want to listen to the music simply because the finale is going to be the biggest musical moment (plot wise) of the second half of the season and hearing the music will make what you're going to watch on television a tad bit less exciting.
The Good: Listening to the music definitely gives the first season a "full circle" feel. The show started, and caught the attention of many, with the cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". Now, the first season is ending with an ode and love fest to Journey by covering a few songs from Journey's catalog. You should know that the finale's titled 'Journey' so in a way, this feels like the producers thanking Journey for catapulting the show and its stars into its fame by covering more of the group's songs. The opening track, "Faithfully" is definitely catchy and a duet between Lea Michelle and Corey Monteith. From there we have a mash-up of "Any Way You Want It" and "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" and though I have to admit I haven't been a big fan or long-time listener of Journey, the two tracks work well together to the point where you can hardly tell it's a combination of two different tracks. Then there's a new version of "Don't Stop Believin'" that definitely feels finale worthy as it was the first big song from the show's first episode and with this regional version we get to hear more of the cast be included and get solo moments in the song. Also included is "Bohemina Rhapsody" which (in my opinion) sounds pretty close to the original and isn't as thrilling, an acoustic/laid back version of "Over the Rainbow" and the most left-field track, a cover of Lulu's "To Sir, With Love". In all, while heavy on Journey songs, there are some tracks from other artists featured.
The Bad: There isn't much to complain about considering this review is coming before having seen the finale. I hope, unlike the past releases, this one includes all of the music from the final episode and there isn't one or two tracks reserved for digital-only release. If I do have a complaint, it was noted that there were more than a few tracks left off the third volume that (for now) have only been released digitally. Since this only have 6 tracks, it'd been nice if some of those unreleased tracks from this season had been included so that fans could have had more of the music from the first season on actual CD. But, for the Amazon.com price of $4.99, I'm glad the songs from the final episode did get released, period, and weren't saved for some future release or box set.
In all, it's a fun release but I feel like it's mainly for the hardcore "Glee" fans or those really into Journey. For me, there wasn't much variety and a six-track release felt like a ploy to make money. Why not hold back the last volume of music, released a few weeks ago, to coincide with the finale and release vol. 3 as an expanded two disc with the finale songs and the songs that were left off? Anyways, the only track that really made me cringe and feel was nothing more than well-performed karaoke was "Bohemian Rhapsody", but the safe cover of the track may actually play into the events of the episode.
Listen to These: "Anyway You Want It / Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'", "Faithfully", "To Sir, With Love"