This soundtrack is GREAT, not your typical covers album...
Larry Davis | NYC/Long Island, NY | 11/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All in all, this CD confounds expectations with it's contradictory flair, as does the show...it should be THE uncoolest thing out there...a glee club performing songs by uncool people like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Broadway tunes, hiphop/R&B, and more...
But it's COOL!!!
The way the songs are rearranged and reimagined, the kids (and teacher, etc) can all really sing, the context is about underdogs, the writing is sharp as a knife, and you care about the characters...it's an unexpected, exciting, odd, and brilliant treat. The real surprise is how well the songs and performances hold up as a CD, outside of the show...and yes, get the Target edition for 3 great bonus tracks...I met the kids too, and they're all really nice, good kids...but the main 2 girls (Lea Michele who plays Rachel, and Dianna Agron who plays Quinn) are stunningly (as they say in the UK) "fit" in person. Here's the breakdown of the CD:
1- "Don't Stop Believin'" (Rachel & Finn, the Journey song from 1981, nice arrangement with the accappella opening...it works!!)
2- "Can't Fight This Feeling" (Finn, the REO Speedwagon #1 ballad from 1984, it's given a fresh acoustic guitar treatment and imperfect but tender reading that gives it new life)
3- "Gold Digger" (Will and featuring Mercedes, the Kanye West(?!) song that's sorta like the teacher trying to be "hip" and "up-to-date", but it actually works and is as good as the original...Amber Riley's booming Martha Wash-like vocals add flavour)
4- "Take A Bow" (Rachel, the Rihanna song which works in context of the show and this CD, and Lea sings it with real emotion...I like it better than the original!!)
5- "Bust Your Windows" (Mercedes, the Jazmine Sullivan song which works perfectly with Amber's booming soul vocals, which are on par with Jennifer Hudson & Martha Wash...I like it as much as the original)
6- "Taking Chances" (Rachel, the Platinum Weird song...you're like WHO?? PW was a fictional band with Eurythmic Dave Stewart, but the vocals were by Kara DioGuardi...yep, the American Idol judge...and those 2 wrote this song...their album was almost "released" in 1974 but got shelved, and that actually came out in 2006...they also did a "new" 2006 album, which DID get shelved but got packaged at the last minute with ONLY BestBuy's edition..."Taking Chances" is on that BestBuy CD only...this project was botched basically, and Kara & Dave gave this song to Celine Dion for her album of the same name from 2007/2008...Celine is now only known for this song, not Kara...the original KILLS, Celine's not as great and an identical arrangement...LEA's version here is BETTER than Celine's and as great as the PW version...similar arrangement too...I guess best not to change it at all.)
7- "Alone" (Will & April, the Steinberg/Kelly song that was a huge #1 hit cover for Heart in 1987...Heart's version is iconic, and it's never been a duet before, but it works...this blows all attempts on Idol...except for Alison Iraheta's career-making take...Kristen blows the roof off while Matt is ample support...the guitars are rawer here than on Heart's version...love it)
8- "Maybe This Time" (Rachel & April...the "Cabaret" song, in an iconic spot on "Glee", works excellently here...GREAT vocal dual by Kris & Lea and I love the jazzy arrangement)
9- "Somebody To Love" (Rachel, Finn, Mercedes & Artie...yep, the Queen song, and the cast's take is as great, or better, than George Michael's take...it comes mighty close, believe it or not, to Queen's original)
10- "Hate On Me" (Mercedes, the R&B/hiphop song, TI?!?, not sure, I don't follow mainstream hiphop/R&B really, but it's a decent track, better than the original, as I'd rather listen to this than seek out the original, and that's rare)
11- "No Air" (Rachel & Finn, a hit as a Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet, and it's as good as their version...JS/CB didn't write the song, so it was easy for Lea & Cory to match)
12- "You Keep Me Hangin On" (Quinn, the #1 hit Supremes classic, and Dianna pulls it off!!! The arrangement is close to the Supremes original, not Kim Wilde's 1987 #1 cover, but Dianna brings an innocence to her take, which meshes well with the lyrical defiance of the song...it works both in the cheerleader scene on the show and as a track on the CD...not easy...and I LOVE Lady Di's vocals...many think they're weak, but I disagree...I find her vocals charming)
13- "Keep Holding On" (Rachel & Finn, the Avril Lavigne power-ballad which works better on this CD and on the show than in Av's repertoire, I think)
14- "Bust A Move" (Will, see "Gold Digger", but his take on Young MC's memorable late 80s pop/rap classic works better than Kanye, as it showcases Matt's personality better, and the musical track is still just as fun, with the Glee-sters adding fun "you want It, you got it"...girls...and "Bust A Move!!"...guys...)
15- "Sweet Caroline" (Puck, the #1 Neil Diamond standard...on an unrelated note, this tribute to Caroline Kennedy and the Turtles' "Happy Together" are similar songs and the Glee-sters should do that song too...Mark does an AWESOMELY great take on this song, adding fresh energy to his great voice...he's like Neil Diamond mixed with Robbie Williams really...and I'm THRILLED the Glee-sters didn't add the annoying horn-line imitation "ba ba ba" on the chorus that they did on the show and fans of this song always do...but my one complaint is that this version is TOO SHORT!!!! It should have been 2 minutes longer...sorry, 1:58 is too short, it's inexcusable...I should loop it or something)
16- "Dancing With Myself" (Artie, the Billy Idol/Generation X new wave/punk classic, reimagined as a finger-snapping acoustic jazzy shuffler, and it really works...I at first found it annoying, but it was the biggest grower for me on the whole CD...go "Wheels"!!)
17- "Defying Gravity" (Kurt & Rachel, the song from "Wicked", sung originally solo by Long Islander Idina Menzel, and it IS a beautiful song, love it, and I was curious if Lea's vocals would be just as magical, and they are...predictably...if not more so, but the REAL surprise is Chris' BEAUTIFUL falsetto on this duet...like goosebump-worthy...he's worthy of complete adulation...I asked him at the signing when he will get his own song on the show, he said next week...this is the one, and people will be blown away, seriously...again, my one complaint is that the song's a bit too short...2:21, should have been a minute and a half longer)
TARGET BONUS TRACKS: 18- "I Wanna Sex You Up" (Will, the Color Me Badd song freom 1992...here is the ACAFELLAS version, and it's actually pretty cool on record...I never thought I'd love ANY take on this song, but this version's pretty sweet and cool...an achievement)
19- "I Could Have Danced All Night" (Emma, the one track sung by fave Jayma Mays, and she has an utterly sweet voice, not unlike Julie Andrews, and the song fits her like that wedding dress, but the track is, again, way too short...a minute and a half, are you kidding?? 1-2 more minutes please...I'm not into these too-short tracks)
20- "Leaving On A Jet Plane" (Will, the real surprise of the CD...this song hasn't been performed on the show yet, and I had no clue that Matt would be doing this utterly sweet take on this John Denver classic...the guy is better at doing these types of songs than silly rap numbers...being he arranged this himself, I wonder if he's also a songwriter and has put out records before...cuz he has talent...and if you listen to the lyrics, you wonder how it will play out in the show...if it's geared towards his sham of a wife or towards Emma...we shall see...but these 3 bonus tracks are reason enough to buy Target's edition)
The show "Glee" is brilliantly realized and original, this CD is so good and fun and stands apart from the show as a CD itself, which is quite rare, the singing is great, the arrangements are cool and creative, and it makes me anticipate more music and CDs to come...boxsets perhaps???
Maybe I am a "Gleek"!!!"
Get it at target, it comes with 3 extra tracks....
Bumpy | Virginia Beach, Virginia | 11/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i dont watch the show at all, i found out about these songs after my friend played them for me, and i thought they were pretty good, its a different take on some good songs. like i stated in the title of my review, get it at target cause it comes with 3 bonus songs, which are i wanna sex you up, i could have danced all night, and leaving on a jet plane. since i dont watch the show at all, i dont know or care about what songs are missing really, i will say this, i will get the next volume in december though. i thought gold digger was pretty nifty. what they need to do next is sing some iron maiden, or some black sabbath, now that would be pretty cool. since i like all kinds of music and all, im sure they will sing a heavy metal song or two sometime down the road."
Glee: Vol. 1- A Few Missing Hits, But Good
Antoine D. Reid | Durham, NC United States | 11/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In case you've been living under a rock for the past few months, 'Glee' is probably among the best in terms of new television shows to arrive this season. 'Glee' is your typical high school drama mixed with heavy doses of atypical popular music packed into each episode. In a way, 'Glee' is Fox's version of Disney's 'High School Music' franchise except better acted and with a far better soundtrack. This first volume of music comes from the show's first nine episodes and features a variety of music and genres, from Broadway numbers, to 80s hits and even some old school hip-hop. While none of this music is original (all of these songs are cover songs of popular hits and artists), the 'Glee' versions and arrangements of the songs are fun and almost just as good as the originals.
The Good: As stated before, don't be turned off that the 'Glee' soundtrack is full of cover songs. These are actually well performed and are not 'karaoke' or butchered like the cover songs on Fox's other hit show 'American Idol'. The best part of this soundtrack is that it offers something for all audiences. Yes, to a degree, the songs are somewhat cheesy. The show is about a high school choir - the songs are meant to be a little cheesy. Lea Michele is the lead vocalist of the cast, having a background in musical theater. Her performances are probably what you expect from a show of this nature; a bit over the top, big, Celine Dion-ish with lots of theatrics. Her version of Rihanna's "Take a Bow" is (in my opinion) better than the original with how she simply belts it out and adds a touch of emotion and sincerity/innocence to it that really sets it apart from just your typical "cover" song. Yet, another underestimated vocalist that's featured throughout the soundtrack is Amber Riley who has the sassy attitude necessary to deliver the hip-hop "Hate On Me" song and the pipes to belt out some show-stopping notes on Queen's "Somebody To Love." In all, the songs are high quality and it's fun to listen to cover versions of popular songs that aren't butchered or are a bit too big for those performing it. Guest vocalist/actress Kristin Chenoweth puts her stamp on the 'Cabaret' number "Maybe This Time" and Heart's 80s power ballad "Alone"; Matthew Morrison comes off as the awkward high school teacher trying to remain hip (and pulling it off to some degree) on hip-hop songs "Bust a Move" and "Gold Digger"; Amber Riley makes a lasting impression with the Jazmine Sullivan cover song "Bust Your Windows".
The Bad: Some of these songs are best enjoyed within the context of the show more so than as stand-alone songs. There are a few songs on this release that I felt weren't as great and could have been replaced with other songs from the show that didn't make the cut for this soundtrack. "Sweet Caroline" and "You Keep Me Hanging On" are just okay. "Defying Gravity" and "Taking Chances", while great vocal performances from Lea Michele, are just a little weak when you aren't able to see the actress fully perform the songs with her acting alongside her singing. There were some songs that made more of an impression on me as a viewer and listener of the show that I am a bit surprised didn't make the cut for the soundtrack (yet were released digitally): "Push It", "Rehab", "Mercy", "Last Name" "It's My Life/Confessions Part II", "Halo/Walking On Sunshine" were all some of the best moments from 'Glee' so far this season yet all of these songs were left off and we're left with mediocre numbers like "Defying Gravity", "Sweet Caroline", "You Keep Me Hangin' On" all make it? In part, I believe it was because some of these songs featured guest stars (or in the case of "Mercy" and "Rehab", groups) instead of the core cast. Still, it's a shame because I'd rather have the true best performances of the season (so far) on a disc and be forced to buy some of the other tracks digitally than the other way around.
In all, a good release with my main area of criticism being that some of the best musical moments of the season were left off. Still, 'Glee' and its music is worth purchasing. It's fun, upbeat music and the cast really manage to step in and put their own stamp on the music. This is one to add to your collection.
Listen To These: "Take a Bow", "Hate On Me", "No Air", "Alone""
Good souvenir of the show, but ultimately limited by lack of
David Pearlman | Arlington, MA United States | 11/08/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With the TV show Glee, from which this soundtrack has been extracted, we are likely witnessing the nascent stages of a phenomenon. The cheeky mix of drama, soap, humor and a bit of pathos mixed with often striking music videos seems to be gaining momentum each week...and rightly so, I say.
Those who've watched the show will no doubt be familiar with all the songs on this soundtrack (save for, perhaps, the last two, which will appear in an episode still forthcoming at the time of the soundtrack release). Many of these songs have been the basis of strikingly good video presentations.
But how well do they hold up on their own, without the visuals?
The answer is: A very mixed bag. Listening to these full length studio versions (mostly the same as those used in the TV show but extended, although sometimes with mix differences), one finds that some songs are just too faithful to the originals. This isn't necessarily a problem in the show, but when you lose, for example, the cheerleader dances for "You Keep Me Hangin' On", this carbon (but ultimately inferior) copy of the Supremes original has a "what's the point" character to it. The same holds for a few other songs that are entirely too faithful to the original arrangement, such as "Can't Fight This Feeling" (originally by REO Speedwagon). Even "Somebody to Love", which is a flat out showstopper in the show, comes off a bit redundant (compared to the Queen original) on record.
The songs that survive best are those that are either substantively rearranged or else just much better sung than the originals. The glee club-ized duet arragnement for Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" reinvents the song and truly owns it. The remake of Rianna's Take a Bow doesn't play much with the arrangement, but it's nice to hear an actual in-tune voice and not the product of a whole body press on the auto-tune button. Turning Heart's "Alone" into a duet also doesn't alter the arrangement much, but does add a little to the song. The remake of Jordan Sparks/Chris Brown's "No Air" strips some of the clutter and superfluous electronics and plays up the pop elements of the song to great effect--though an even better (much better) version of the song is the shortened version that accompanies the visual sequence in the show.
They go too far once. The radical re-imagining of Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself" is striking in it's own way, but loses much of what made the original song catchy and winds up just a novelty.
While most of the songs that have appeared in the show up to the time of this album's release are included, there are some that are missing in action. Several of these are OK, but not really missed ("Rehab", "Leaving on a Jet Plane", etc.) But two of them are real head scratchers: The "mash up" mixes of "It's My Life/Confessions, Pt. II" and "Halo/Walking on Sunshine". These are unquestionably the two tracks that most successfully play with the originals and quite cleverly produce something new and worthy. The latter track, with a version of Halo that strips off the dirge-like canned rhythm track from the Beyonce original and reveals a top rank pure pop song, is probably, from the standpoint of the recording, the best thing they've done so far. (The track also substitutes Beyonce's ridiculously auto-tuned vocal with a very strong lead from Lea Michele). So why are neither of these tracks included? It makes no sense, unless there are legal entanglements. (The tracks are available as downloads from the major services).
A final comment about the vocals on these songs. Lead singer Lea Michele, who gets the majority of the leads, is an outstanding vocalist who can bring the Broadway belt when necessary and is really the secret weapon of the show. The other member of the Glee cast who has demonstrated real lead singing ability is Amber Riley, who so far has been given most of the more R&B leads. Matthew Morrison, who plays the teacher, and who gets the occasional lead, is also decent enough. So far, so good. But now let's talk about Cory Monteith, who plays the male lead Finn Hudson. While it's not so apparent on TV, when you listen carefully to these songs you discover that Monteith's vocals are heavily processed and auto-tuned. This gets old pretty fast, and if Monteith can actually sing, the producers have so far successfully hidden that fact and would be well advised to let up on the effects and let that shine through. In fact, Mark Salling (Puck)'s vocal on Sweet Caroline suggest that he may be a better singer than Monteith. Finally, a few of the lead vocals on this soundtrack (Last Name, Alone and Maybe This time) are handled by Broadway vet Kristin Chenoweth, who guest starred on a single episode, and who in true ringer fashion brings them all home with an outstanding singing voice."
Some of the Music From the Best New Show of 2009
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 11/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in May of 2009, FOX made one of the biggest gambles in recent television history. The network decided to air the pilot of one of the new fall shows just before summer. The thinking was that doing so would build an audience and build the hype for the fall. However, there was a huge danger in that people would forget about the show and no matter how good it was it would die an early death. That show was GLEE and the gamble paid off tremendously because GLEE is by far the best new show on television right now. The show is a strange mixture of quirky drama, fairly realistic drama, and outstanding musical numbers. One might not believe that the premise of the show, following a group of mostly outcasts in a high school around as they attempt to revive their school's failed glee club. However, due to some incredibly strong writing, solid acting, and charming music numbers the show has gotten better with almost every episode.
GLEE: THE MUSIC VOLUME 1 is the first of what will probably be a string of CDs released from the show. Normally, I would be aghast at such a thing. However, the most of the musical numbers on the show are so good that for once in my life, I can overlook the shamelessly self-serving shilling. The regular CD contains 17 songs, but depending on where you buy the album there are up to three additional tracks. My favorite songs on the album are:
"Don't Stop Believin'"--the song that started it all. It was the #1 downloaded song on iTunes for weeks after the original airing of the pilot. Journey made the song and was the master, but the Glee Version has such a youthful optimism that it really does is better.
"Gold Digger"--I've never been a fan of Kanye, but Matthew Morrison's rendition made me interested in his music for the first time in my life.
"Maybe This Time"--a song from the musical CABARET, but sung by the gorgeous an incredibly talented Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele.
"Somebody To Love"--a cover song of Queen? I know, you wouldn't think it would work, but it does and though it isn't as powerful as the original version, there's enough heart hear that makes the song worthwhile and enjoyable. Besides, this song is one of the anthems of the season.
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"--I'll admit it that this song looses a bit of umpth when not seen on screen with the whole conflicted cheerleader vibe going on. Still, it's the only song on the album featuring the vocals of Dianna Agron.
"Defying Gravity"--Another tune that suffers a bit from removing it from the show's context. Still, the number is performed well and there's just something about the song's message that is uplifting.
Overall, GLEE: THE MUSIC VOLUME 1 is a treat for not only Gleeks, but people who just enjoy good music."